A few days ago I was meeting with a client that I hadn’t seen for 11 years.
He described to me his workout history over the past decade, which basically consisted of an on again off again relationship between him and exercise; periods of consistent biking, walking and embracing an active lifestyle followed by periods of inactivity and frustration. It’s been eleven years since I last worked with him and he still hates the gym, is bored with the limited selection of “healthy” foods he allows into his diet and to put it in his own words, he feels “portly”. (I always thought that was a strange word)
He is exhausted and doesn’t know what do to next.
He feels stuck and powerless.
Unfortunately his unstable relationship with exercise and feelings of frustration are not uncommon.
Yo-yo exercising, just like it’s not-so-distant relative yo-yo dieting, is far from abnormal in this country. In fact most of the clients I see have either struggled with or are currently struggling in a yo-yo relationship with their exercise.
To illustrate what yo-yo exercising looks like (based on the hundreds of clients I have worked with over the years), here is a nifty little graphic:
Look familiar? Don’t worry - you’re in good company.
The important thing to notice is that all the momentum for this cycle is generated from negative feelings about yourself and your body; feeling disgusted with yourself and hating your body is at the core of this endless cycle. Self-hate and the possibility of physical change is the motivation to start up an exercise plan and when the plan fails to deliver our dream body, all our feelings of shame and disgust toward our body only grow stronger. We believe we are a failure and society reinforces it by saying that we didn’t try hard enough or that we didn’t have enough will power.
Last week I mentioned that I would share with you the first step in reclaiming your power from the diet and exercise industry and here it is.
The first step in reclaiming your power as well as breaking out of the yo-yo exercise pattern is to fully ACCEPT, VALUE and RESPECT your body in a compassionate and non-judgmental way in this very moment.
In other words, let go of the self-hate and the negative relationship you have with your body and stop using guilt, shame and self-hate as motivators to exercise.
“But if I accepted my body, wouldn’t I still be stuck in a body I hate forever?”
The intense fear of actually accepting your body, as it is in this very moment, has plenty of proof behind it; mainly from the diet, fitness and weight loss industry’s fear mongering advertising. For if you truly accepted your body, as it is in this very moment wouldn’t that just be giving up? Wouldn’t you just quit exercising? What would be the point of doing any exercise at all? Why would you even think about eating another stalk of broccoli? Their marketers have spent a ton of money hoping you believe you would stop any and all healthy habits if you truly accepted your body. That’s why it’s so scary to even think of accepting your body in the first place.
Hating your body is seen as normal in our society and using self hate to motivate healthy habits is what the diet, fitness and weight loss industry exploit in order to stay in business. It is also how they steal your power.
Getting out of the yo-yo cycle requires first changing how you speak to yourself, how you feel about your body and how you value yourself.
It is the hardest thing to do. Ever. Period.
And really, if hating your own body worked as an effective way to motivate your exercise consistency, don’t you think the gyms would be way more packed?
When we truly value ourselves and have a positive relationship with our body, we make better decisions about our health and wellbeing.
So, how do you stop hating your body and start accepting it?
Check out next week’s post to find out! Until then, what will you do this weekend to let go of the guilt and welcome in the respect?