Sunday, 5 October 2014

Strong is the new skinny

I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't trying to be skinnier.  Or just less fat actually as in order to be anything-er, you have to be a bit of whatever it is in the first place and (in my mind anyway) skinny is not something I have ever been accused of being.

My entire adult, and pre-adult before that, life I have been trying in some way or other to lose weight. To make that number on the scales and the clothes label, along with my bulk, shrink.  With varying degrees of success.  Most dramatically a few years ago by following the Dukan diet and losing 3 stone.

But I have always struggled with consistency.  I know all the dos and don'ts, I could probably write a book on diet and nutrition, but sometimes cake and ice cream still wins.  Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn't really care what you know, it only responds to how you feel.

And, as this blog will testify, I haven't always felt great.

One thing I definitely haven't always felt great about, not surprisingly, is said bulky body.  I've always scorned statements like "love your body no matter what".  Thought it a load of old pap that appreciating your body as beautiful and loving yourself would naturally lead to it magically morphing into the leaner more lithe body you (were now not allowed to admit) you always wanted. 

It makes sense when considered alongside all the positive psychology I avidly believe in.  It's basically the same premise as Shawn Achor's happiness advantage - success comes from happiness not the other way around (thin people aren't happier, happier people find it easier to get/stay thin); The Law of Attraction (and other similar less new age versions) advocates 'living as if' and working towards what you do want, not trying to escape what you don't.

So, whilst trying to pretend that I love my flobberyjobs I continued to pursue ever new ways to get rid of it.

Most recently by following a year long online coaching program that turned out to be much more about what's on the inside, than the outside and that includes a not-for-the-weak-hearted 6 times a week gym program.

Which has left me in quite a peculiar place.

Right now, I am not the lightest I have ever been.  I am not the skinniest I have ever been.  I am not wearing the smallest sized clothes I have ever owned and I don't have less body fat that I ever have.

But I am the strongest I have ever been.  And the stronger I get, the more I push myself, the leaner I get, the more toned I get and the more my body changes shape.  

Suddenly I understand what it means to love, and to be grateful to and for my body (although I don't think the feeling's mutual after a round of weighted elevated split squats).  Sometimes I can hardly believe what it's just been able to do. The weight I've managed to lift at the gym or the yoga posture I somehow managed to bend myself into, and then hold. Yes, I can now even do the yoga I always wanted to but never managed to, um, manage before.  I am more flexible and more confident, I have more stamina and I love challenging myself to go just a little bit further every time.

I've still got rolls, but I've also got muscles I never even knew existed before and the more I focus on those, the more those rolls get less roly.  I may not ever learn to love the rolls, but I certainly love the rest.

So, it turns out I had it all wrong in the first place. I was entirely chasing the wrong goal.  It is not about trying to get skinnier. It's not about trying to lose weight.  It's about getting stronger.  I can't control what the scales do, but maybe I don't need to care about that anyway.

What I can do is get off my butt, get to the gym, lift those weights a little bit heavier than before and high five myself for being so damn awesome.

Strong is SO the new skinny.

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