If it’s vibrant health you desire, let go of the weight-focused approach, and work for your health. If you’re not sure what that means, then it might be research time. What illness or dysfunction are you hoping to resolve? What can you do, specifically, to address your concerns? If it’s athletic development you want, let go of image obsessions. It’s not looking more like an athlete that will help you to run faster. If you want to look different, is training what you need to be doing? Or is it something else? Get a new pair of jeans. Are you seeking acceptance? Re-evaluate your goals.
If you want to feel good, do things that make you feel good. This can be for the short term, or with a broader view. But don’t expect things that make you feel bad now (punishment, starvation, self-shaming habits) to make you feel good in the future.
What do you want your body to look like? One that has endured hardship, and the discipline of work? One that has been cared for? Neglected? And how much control do you have over the way you look, anyway? Very little, I think. Mostly, your body looks like the body of your parents, combined with your own uniqueness. Can we overcome our genetic limitations? You know, those things we like to blame for everything? It’s a little more responsible than blaming our parents, I suppose. Or is it merely the same? How do you discover what lies within your power to change, and what does not? How much hardship is testing your resolve, and how much hardship is a sign you’re on the wrong track?
Many things don’t come easy. What’s really worth your time, energy, dedication and sacrifice? And what do suffering and sacrifice actually have to do with building the life you want?
You can control your intention, you can get yourself to the gym, you can talk yourself up or down, you can play mind games with yourself, or you can be honest (which is not a euphemism for being cruel). But you can’t control how fast you recover, how quickly you fatigue, and how much work you can do before burning out. You cannot control how you, as an individual, adapt to training. You can tweak your program, your sleep, but still... You can’t control how much food you, specifically, need to eat. It’s hard enough to even know what that is in the first place. You can hop on-line and look for guidelines if you like, but I find them predominantly useless. You can’t control how people talk to you, but you do have some say in who you spend your time with.
Training helps you to feel at home in your own skin - if you trust yourself, if you’re working on what you want to work on. Not sure? Pick something. Seek out guidance if you can. What looks like fun? Yoga? Rowing? Dance? Martial Arts?
When you train, you no longer feel like a stranger in your own body. You are introduced to yourself in a very real way. You discover who you are, under pressure, in a safe environment. Too fanciful? Abstract? Idealistic? Maybe. But I still think it’s true.
I read an article earlier by a strength coach who was talking about the “how can I get ripped, jacked, strong like you?” questions he regularly receives, and about his 18 years of dedicated training. It made me stop and think about my impatience, my progression and achievements, in the context of... well, years spent on the planet, doing my thing, pursuing my desires. I’m still relatively new to the dedicated lifting heavy things.
I don't like the term ‘goals’ any more. It’s not that. Life isn’t an achievement, it’s not a thing you succeed or fail at. It’s something that happens, irrespective of success or satisfaction. I like to think of my desires, not goals. It seems a truer way to describe my athletic training and progression. I don’t know if it’s implicit in either the term ‘desires’ or ‘goals’, but I enjoy the process. If you’re only training for some vague idea of a goal, what happens if that never comes? If you fail, if you were lied to, or if it simply takes too long? Resentment. What kind of a life is that to live, one where you don’t enjoy the process? The time that you spend, working on some future objective, that time is your life. It passes in the blink of an eye, especially when you’re not on track.
That’s what lifestyle changes are about. Changing your life, little by little, to be the life you desire, a life that you enjoy. It’s not about discipline or punishment or reward, or denying yourself the food you want, it may be about hard work and focus, who knows? It’s about you. It’s about what you want, and that exists in context, not in a vacuum. Sometimes you’re free to pursue your desires, and sometimes you aren’t. Sometimes you are empowered to move forward, and sometimes what you think you should be doing is actually what’s holding you back.
How much questioning is useful, and how much only adds to the confusion? Damn! I got nothing!