For approximately four years, bodybuilding took over my life. I counted my calories and macro-nutrients meticulously. I hit the gym at least 5 times a week for at least an hour, sometimes at midnight just to get in my cardio for the day after work. I was shredded with a six-pack that could rival any washboard.
For the first time in my life, I felt physically strong. And that is a very, very powerful drug. And one I remained hooked on for quite some time. And… I was tired and lonely and burnt out and quickly learning that it’s not healthy to place the entire burden of my worthiness on the leanness of my body.
Byyyyyy the way, I am writing this blog post right now as a direct result of choosing not to go to the gym tonight. This is absolutely something that would never have happened a few years ago. I would’ve dragged my ass in there and forced myself to throw some shit around for an hour until I could permission myself to feel like I earned my sleep for the night. These days, I let me intuition guide me for the most part, with the occasional pep talk to get myself moving when I know I need it (but might maybe possibly want to binge-watch Outlander with a glass of wine instead).
Intuitive eating and training has been such a delightful change of pace for me, but it is not a weight-loss strategy and in order to properly eat intuitively, one must’ve done the work to be able to actually tap into their intuition (weird, right?). Intuitive eating is not having a burger and fries because you’re craving it/”deserve” it/ “earned” it. Intuitive eating is having an extra serving of protein or eating an avocado or grabbing that green juice because you can sense that your body needs it. And this is why it’s sometimes best to take a linear/logical approach to fitness when first starting and then transitioning into more feelings-based guidance.
Something I see time and time again as a personal trainer with my clients, are people who say they know that they should be doing but simply aren’t doing it. Why? My theory: because people are afraid to fail and afraid to be uncomfortable and afraid to be new at something. And most people get a quick hit of dopamine and a feeling of accomplishment from talking about taking action, but then never actually doing anything. This is why people:
- buy gym memberships but never go
- pay for a personal trainer but always cancel
- buy a book but never read it
- hire a nutritionist but still eat crap
My suggestion? Figure out what you’re getting in exchange for continuing the cycle of not following through (because there is always something you’re getting). Do you get to avoid looking “silly” in the gym by not even showing up? Do you get to emotionally bypass difficult feelings by drinking/eating/smoking instead of choosing a healthier outlet? Or maybe it’s something trauma-based and subconscious that you need professional help with. (P.S. There’s no shame in going to therapy).
We subconsciously loop thoughts and patterns picked up in childhood that we’ve now deemed as comfortable and normal, whether healthy or unhealthy, so it’ll likely take some awareness and effort to interrupt those. You can only hate, shame and force your body into doing what you want in the short term, and you’ll be a miserable mess the whole time with this approach. This is why extreme diet and fitness programs fail: you never fixed whats happening in your head and in your heart to encourage long-term success.
I have been good at athletics for as long as I can remember. The secret? I was rewarded when I was a child for athletic success on a regular basis. I then subconsciously attributed this as an effective way to gain love and attention. If it’s not something that comes naturally to you, you have to reprogram some of the deep inner workings of your mind that are blocking you from success. I’m hoping to get someone on the Reina Rising podcast to chat about this soon!! But in the meantime, start small, celebrate your wins, and ask for help!