Put Down Your Anger. Pick Up The Barbell.
Sometimes keeping a positive attitude about exercise is difficult. How many of you out there feel that way sometimes? For me, it’s not due to a dislike of exercise, since I actually like the workouts I do and I do see results over time like I hoped. My sometimes negative moods stem from my own lack of patience with myself. It’s like I somehow think that after spending 15+ years eating poorly, not exercising regularly and being sick and obese, that I can just be an athlete again because I’ve decided that’s what I want now. It is unfair that I treat myself this way considering all the progress I’ve made over the past year. You are being unfair to yourself too. The truth is that transformation takes TIME and PATIENCE and DILIGENCE and LOVE. It is so easy for many of us to help others, but when it comes to helping ourselves, we are short-sighted. In general, I am patient, loving, understanding and kind, and I genuinely feel excited to be part of another person’s health transformation. But when it comes to me, I am harshly critical, judgmental and short-tempered. Why are we so hard on ourselves?
I believe the answer lies somewhere within the idea of who we are, who we think we are, and who we were. When I was in grade school and high school, I was an athlete. I played all different sports from gymnastics to tennis to softball, track, swimming, field hockey and horseback riding. I could do anything physical. When I was in college, I took this for granted and I stopped moving around as much. Since I was so fit, it didn’t seem to matter. My weight and body composition remained the same through college and I had energy to spare. But being more sedentary took its toll by my late 20’s, early 30’s. From there, I weighed over 200 pounds for about a decade, but still somehow believed I was OK, that I was still strong and could still run and swim and lift heavy things whenever I wanted to. But the reality was that I didn’t. And I couldn’t. Now, when I have any negative feelings or severe disappointment when I cannot perform an exercise successfully, I know those feelings stem from how angry I still feel at myself for allowing this delusional thinking to occur in the first place. I am angry that I let myself devolve into a fat, weak, and sick person and did nothing for so many years to help myself. I am angry that I didn’t believe enough in myself to save me. Does this sound familiar?
So what do we do about this unproductive and unhealthy circle of thinking?
Why not? We forgive others all the time for their stupid or destructive actions and behaviors. Why not ourselves? The truth is that we need to do it in order to live the life we now desire. Forgiving oneself is a difficult task, but it is crucial to moving forward. If I want to be more athletic, I will work at it regardless of how long it will take because of poor decisions I made 15 years ago. There is nothing I can do about that. This is where I am now, I accept it and forgive myself for taking my health for granted. I forgive myself for putting other things and people in front of my own needs. I forgive myself. Yes, it is going to be more difficult for me to do hang power cleans at 40 than if I had tried it at 30, but so what! I am the one who wants this even though I know it is going to be difficult! So what. Getting angry at yourself for things you can no longer control is only going to cause stress and unhappiness to you and your loved ones, and most likely will derail your workout in the end – which will only make you more angry at yourself. This negative cycle stops with forgiveness.
No matter how you got here, you are still going somewhere. Don’t forget to enjoy your journey!