Wearing Lycra and jumping rope in front of a mirror are two sure-fire ways to notice every little jiggle on your body. I discovered this the other morning at the gym, noticing the little pooch on my belly that is proof that I drank a few too many margaritas last year. I joined a new gym two months ago, have been training like a professional athlete six days a week, and that damn gut is still there. It is beyond annoying.
A few minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse in the mirror of a girl across the room (or so I thought) with really toned, tanned arms. I wish I had her arms, I thought.
Turns out that girl? That was ME.
I was so busy being focused on the fact that I haven’t yet lost all of drinkfest 2011’s extra pounds that I failed to notice that I have made progress. That, though in my head I am round and un-toned, in reality, I have shaped up and am looking lean…even though I still have a few pounds to go.
It hit me then how easy it is to ignore the progress we make, to instead focus on the fact that we might not yet be where we want to be. This is a surefire way to lose motivation and go right back to square one, a surefire way to skew your perception of yourself and fail to notice the positive.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood in front of the mirror, turning this way and that, sucking in, pinching fat, thinking if only this were gone that I’d feel comfortable with my body.
I can, however, count the number of times I’ve stood in front of the mirror and smiled, admiring my arms or the definition in my legs, told myself I looked great. Those times could probably be counted on one hand. Maybe one finger.
I’ve been too busy thinking I looked horrible to consider the fact that I might just look good. Even at my most slender, with 18% body fat, I still nitpicked in front of the mirror.
However I looked, whatever the scale said, it was never enough. I was never satisfied.
How could I be, when my inner voice (and, hello, The Media) was telling me I wasn’t there yet?
That inner voice, the one we all have, can be our biggest source of support or our greatest foe.
When it bullies us, we are the only person alive who can stop it.
This is something I’ve been working on over the past year. That negative inner voice has not completely shut up (as evidenced by my jump-roping fiasco), but it is much less strong than it used to be.
We all have the ability and power to change our thoughts and habits, and here are three things I’ve been doing over the past year:
1. Center yourself
Know who you are. There is a higher truth to you, one that is so much bigger than the number on the scale or the salary you earn. The truth of you is, you have unlimited potential. You are more beautiful than you feel, smarter than you know, more talented than you think. Daily, I meditate and remind myself of my higher truths. This is called “centering,” a.k.k. getting in touch with your higher truth. I meditate in the morning and in little intervals throughout the day (which is little more than taking a few deep breaths), and most definitely when I feel myself getting down. There are times when those self-destructuve thoughts creep up, and when they do, I catch them and re-center, remembering the higher truth about me.
2. Celebrate the small stuff
Progress is not linear. If it were, we’d all be pretty close to perfect. The reality is, progress waxes and wanes, and true progress should be measured over long periods of time. It is important not to beat yourself up for being less than perfect. Rather, celebrate the small things. Don’t beat yourself up if you ate ice cream after dinner, praise yourself for having one scoop less than usual. Pat yourself on the back for exercising five minutes longer than usual. Those small amounts of progress add up over time. Take some time to reflect and acknowledge yourself for the progress you have made toward your goals, no matter how small you think that progress is. We all need encouragement and motivation. What better way to motivate yourself than believing in and feeling good about who you are?
3. Consistency is key
Our habits, our thoughts, our actions are results of years of conditioning, so it is absurd to think they’ll change after a few days, weeks, or even months. Progression toward your higher self is a lifetime pursuit. When you keep working toward something, when you’re truly committed, you will see results. Even if those results don’t happen when you want them to. Keep at it, and when things aren’t going as you think they should, refer back to #2 and remind yourself to keep going.
Above all, remember that you are the one that has the power over your life. Attitude is everything, and owning your own power–taking it back from that inner-bully–will take you as far as you believe you can go.