As many know, I’m trying to make working out a part of my lifestyle. I started mid-January and did pretty well. Then, Spring Break hit. I used that week and literally took the week off. I didn’t work out (except for one day), I didn’t do homework, nothing (besides March Madness and my bracket busting in the first round, my productivity level was zero). And that was okay with me. But then I came back to school and found that I was unmotivated to continue to work out. My work outs, meant for the mornings, got later in the day, until eventually, they stopped happening at all.
For roughly these past two weeks, they stopped happening.
I was down on myself. I looked in the mirror and tried desperately to avoid it. I got on the scale back home and to my great disappointment, those six pounds I lost crept back. I was right back where I started, yet I had worked out for nine weeks straight. Discouraging is an understatement. Every day, I would tell myself I should work out. I should log my food. I should eat better.
But the results weren’t there. I couldn’t see them. I could only see the things that I really needed to work on. And the whispers returned. The You can’t do this; the you’re not good enough; the this is impossible. And I kept getting reminded that I’m going to be at the beach soon and I can already feel the shame and guilt surrounding my body surfacing. Two-piece or one-piece? Will I have made enough progress by then? Plus, a lot of people around me are trying to lose weight, too. And they constantly bring it up, talking about how they are eating bad, they need to eat better. They need to lose weight. They are too fat. They should be at the gym.
All these people, talking about all the things they need to change about their bodies, when in fact, they are all healthier and skinnier than I am.
How am I supposed to read that?
I began to feel suffocated under this constant strain of getting healthy. Everywhere I turned, eating better and working out was either being talked about or thought about. And everywhere I turned, I continued to see my own failure. In a discussion with a great friend, I was told in a honest moment that yeah, losing 20 pounds would be good for you; 40 would be ideal, given your height and age, but 20 is a good start; a needed start.
20 pounds? 20? How could I manage 20 when I can’t even manage 6?
Things were growing darker. I began to panic, feeling overwhelmed. I always viewed losing weight as a way to become beautiful, instead of focusing on getting healthier. But my health, if I continue the way I am now, is actually at risk. My eyes were opened to that and it freaked me out. It meant my failure was even worse than it was before.
Graduation and the summer — the season of bikinis and way too much exposed flesh — continue to creep closer and closer with every day. And I’ll want to take pictures, then. I’ll want to look nice at my grad party, take pictures with friends before I lose them. I’ll want to take pictures on our last guaranteed family vacation. And I didn’t want to hate the way I look in those pictures. I had to lose the weight. I had to. But I couldn’t find the motivation, not after seeing that scale, not after facing my failure and accepting it.
Then, today, I got back from a meeting around 8:30 or so. Before I could think, I quickly changed my clothes into workout attire, grabbed the “Core Speed” video from T-25, and threw it on my laptop. I’m stubborn. I knew once I started the video, I was going to finish it. So I made sure I didn’t have any other option, I made sure I didn’t have any time to talk myself out of it. And I worked out. You would think two weeks of not working out wouldn’t make that much of a difference, but I couldn’t complete half the workout, I was breathing so hard. I went through two bottles of water. By the end, I sweat so much my hair was literally matted against my head, drenched as if I had just showered.
But I had finished it.
And I felt strong. I felt my muscles working. I felt good.
You see, I got so fixated on the number on the scale, so fixated on the number that I want to reach, and the great distance between them, that I didn’t stop to think about where I was at now, what I have already accomplished. Could those six pounds have been six pounds of muscle added? Maybe. Were those six pounds a sign that while you can work out with the best of them, if you don’t fuel your body right, you aren’t going to reach your goals? Definitely. But, I was working towards it. I had worked out for over 60 days in a row. I went from never working out to keeping up with Shawn T (as much as anyone can actually “keep up” with that mad man). I was completing what I set out to do. But instead of the next step (working on my food intake as well as working out), I was only focusing on a goal, and how it wasn’t happening quick enough.
Sure, do I wish I could wear a dress at graduation and not feel self-conscious about it? Yep. Do I wish I could wear a two-piece bathing suit and not feel like a beached whale? You betcha. I focused on those events alone and raced against an impossible clock. I’m not going to transform myself the way I want to by the time I graduate; by the time I go on vacation; hell, even by the time Christmas comes around. I won’t have reached my goal.
But I will have made progress. But only if I keep working.
So lost was I in the desire for results to be immediate that I lost sight of my real goal: I want to be beautiful. I want to be lean. I want to be healthy. I want to be strong. Like I tell myself all the time, I’ve created this body for 22 years. It is going to take a couple years — and plenty of failures and missteps along the way — to reach my vision that I have for myself. And I do have a vision, a great one; an obtainable one. But not a immediate one.
For the past two weeks, I forgot that.
Tonight, after I worked out and showered, I wrote something on my wrist: Vision over Mind. I want it to serve as a reminder; a reminder that I’m not racing against any sort of clock, but instead working to make a lifestyle change. A reminder that I’m doing this to be healthy and happy. A reminder I am doing this to prove to myself that I can. A reminder that there are going to be days where I don’t work out and days that I eat way too many calories, and I enjoy every bite (and rightfully so). A reminder that while the scale is one sign of health, it isn’t the only sign, and at the end of the day, my weight is just a number. A reminder that I have a vision for myself, a vision of myself, and who I can rise up to be; and I have the strength, the endurance, the perseverance, the stubbornness, the will, to make that vision come to life.
All I have to do is shut off my mind, shut off my self-doubt, my despairs, my disbelief, my impatience, my fear. And once I do that, anything is possible.
So, I say onward! And congrats on reaching my first failure. Here’s to many more, alongside all of the exciting successes, awaiting me on this journey.