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Self Talk

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Fit People Can Feel Shitty About Themselves Too

Ugh.

I had a crappy weekend.

It started out good – I’m transitioning out of my diet, I’m feeling strong, and I had a few really cool things happen last Friday that caused a mini dance celebration in the break room and left me grinning like a complete goon most of the afternoon.

I’m working on a Top-Secret New Project (but as my Mom has told me, I’m not really good at keeping secrets – email me at Genevieve@theinertiaproject.org for details!) and had been planning to take some photos for the project this past Sunday.

No big deal – I’ve done shoots before and know how to approach them.

Or rather, I SHOULD know how to approach them.

AND I TOTALLY SCREWED IT UP!!

I psyched myself out.

In an attempt to fill my muscles out like I’ve done for my other shoots, I tried to do an emergency carbo-load on Saturday (read: ate my weight in fun party carbs like fro-yo, cookies, and Pad Thai - mmmmmm) to fill out more, with the thought that not drinking water until the photos were taken on Sunday would get rid of the inevitable carb bloat and I’d look great and tan and happy.

What actually happened was the opposite.

I woke up bloated, my abs were NOT defined, and I felt like I’d eaten a load of mopey antisocial wallflower carbs instead of fun party carbs. Exactly how I DIDN’T want to feel – and DIDN’T WANT TO LOOK!!

I was distraught. And what’s worse is that I had concrete proof my body had changed because I had taken progress photos four days before.

How I looked on Wednesday

 

How I Looked 4 days later - my literal Photo Bomb

Take a look at the difference in these pictures – the one on Wednesday is blurry and I’m pale as all get-out, but you can tell that my abs are better. I’m not retaining water. I look good.

And here’s another confession: I actually took the second set of pictures Monday night because I couldn’t bring myself to do it Sunday – this is what I looked like a full 24 hours later, after my meltdown.

(Note: I realize that my “bloaty and gross” pictures are what a lot of people would kill to have. It goes to show that regardless of your weight, you can still feel bad about yourself. This is not a post to make anyone feel shitty about how they look, or say “look at me, even when I feel bad I look good” – NO. This is about how each and every one of us has struggles with how our body looks, regardless of whether you compete in fitness competitions or avoid mirrors at all costs.)

There was an internal war going on, and it wasn’t pretty.

Here’s what was going through my mind on Sunday:

“Gen, you KNOW how to do this correctly, and that you weren’t doing it right. Why the fuck did you do this? How could you totally let go? Why didn’t you try cleaner carbs like oatmeal? Why did you think you could pull this off? The tan won’t save you, your abs look like complete crap. They are watery and soft and you can’t take pictures like this. They looked better yesterday. Why didn’t you do the photos last week when you looked super cut? What if you look WORSE later this week if you put off the photos?”
(For those who are wondering, if I had eaten no differently than usual, this never would have happened in the first place.)

There was more, but that’s a small sample of what I was saying.

But this isn’t my first rodeo. Basically what happened was I took on too much water too fast thanks to the fun party carbs. All I need to do was go back to eating normally and the bloat will subside in 2-3 days.

In the scheme of things, this is not a big deal AT ALL.

But I know myself, and I know what can happen when I let these thoughts get out of hand. I wrote an article previously about how I had a hard time with self-talk last year. I felt myself ready to fly off the handle and knew that I needed to get my head back on right.

I swallowed my pride, called up a good friend and talked through my thoughts.

This was SO HARD.

As a fitness professional, it’s so hard to admit to myself that I’m not treating my body or mind nicely, much less verbalize it to someone else. And, to be quite candid, writing this for the world to see is pretty terrifying right now!

It’s so hard to explain though – people automatically assume that because I have a six-pack that I am satisfied with how I look all the time.

THAT IS NOT TRUE.

I have good days, and I have bad days, just like everyone else.

I have days when I feel invincible. And I will admit that I do have more of them now that I have changed my body and mindset.

But I, too, still fall prey to ugly thoughts. I too have moments when I look in a mirror and see imperfections. I too struggle to love my body – and to be honest, I don’t think ANYONE fully loves everything about their body.

As I was venting to my friend, I acknowledged that what I was complaining about would seem ludicrous to 98% of the population.

But these feelings are real to me, and learning how to deal with these emotions in a healthy and constructive manner is a battle.

But if I’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that while I don’t always have control of what my body is doing (helloooo, carb bloat and hormonal water weight!), I DO always have control of something FAR more important – MY MIND.

After throwing a little more of a pity party, I rolled up my sleeves and started weed-whacking away my invasive thoughts.

I GET TO DECIDE TO STAY CALM.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT JUST BECAUSE I FUCKED UP THIS PHOTO SHOOT, IT DOESN’T MAKE ME LESS LOVEABLE OR WORTHY.

I GET TO DECIDE THAT I WILL LET THESE THOUGHTS PASS INTO MY MIND, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I SHOULD PAY ATTENTION TO THEM.

I AM IN CONTROL.

I bet you’ve had similar thoughts –

  • You’ve walked past a mirror or caught a glimpse of your reflection in a storefront window and been less than thrilled with what you see.
  • You’ve eaten too much and feel like you need to compensate by not eating for the rest of the day, texting your best friend that you’re “such a fatty”. 
  • You decide that THIS TIME, you’re REALLY going to buckle down and exercise but you give up after three workouts when you’re sore, and label yourself “lazy and unmotivated”.
  • You step on the scale and your confidence is shattered because you’re three pounds heavier than you were yesterday.
  • You have a weak moment and go for that third (and then fourth) slice of pizza and then continue the food fest because you’ve already screwed up and might as well keep going.

Look, these things happen.

It’s easy (and common!) to freak out and beat yourself up.

I clearly struggle with this too.

But always remember that you’re the master of your thoughts. Take a deep breath. Resist the temptation to take your ugly thoughts seriously. Treat them like a troll leaving a stupid comment on a YouTube video and scroll on past.

I have a challenge for you all – this week, I want you to stop yourself when you start that downward spiral and send me a short email telling me the exact thought you had when you caught yourself. I promise it will be better than hating yourself for the next day or two or three.

Chances are you’re blowing things out of proportion.

Practice acknowledging that you are having the thought, but that this particular thought doesn’t define you. This is a toughie but it will get easier with time.  And just to let you know, I’m going to be doing this too – we are in this together.

Now go, stop those negative thoughts, and be a winner.


Have you ever had a meltdown over a fitness mishap that in hindsight wasn’t a big deal? I’d love to hear it - send me an email and share your story. And please feel free to pass this on to a friend who needs to hear this.

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Square One and a Half

Disclaimer: If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, please spare us both the inevitable heartache and unsubscribe yourself immediately.

Ok, now that I’ve culled the non-nerd herd, on to my post.

One of my favorite parts of Harry Potter is Platform 9 ¾. As a kid, I loved reading this part. I mean, seriously – how cool would it be to go into some mundane place and then – BAM! – be transported to a magical land full of people waving wands in weird clothes holding toads and eating treacle (full disclosure – I’m still not quite sure what this is)?

And the fact that it wasn’t a whole number always made me smile. I don’t know why, but there was something charming about the fraction thrown in. Like it’s a magically ambiguous place that semi-exists and semi-doesn’t. It’s the Schrodinger’s cat of transportation (huge shout out to the nerds who get this one!).

So, in honor of Harry Potter, I’m going to introduce a concept I like to call Square One and a Half.

We’ve all heard of Square One.

That’s the dreaded place that you go to when you fall off the wagon.

You missed your workout for a week? “I’m back at Square One!

You were eating well and then the weekend wine fest with the girls happened? “I’m back at Square One!

You *insert whatever setback you had and aren’t where you think you “should” be*? “I’m back at Square One!”

But are you REALLY?

Think about it – if you missed your workouts for a week then you’ll probably lose some strength and stamina. But you’re not starting completely over. It’s a slight setback but you’re going to be back where you started in no time.

If you fell off the wagon with food, congratulations, you’re a human being! Give yourself a round of applause that you have friends and a social life. Get back to your normal healthy habits and the bloat will subside after a few days – you’re NOT back at Square One, and you shouldn’t think that just because you had some pizza you might as well make out with a fro-yo machine too (pro tip: toppings are where it’s at, anyway).

Ladies and Gents, I’d like you to consider a lovely concept called Square One and a Half.

Square One and a Half is a magical place where you may have slipped or tripped or meandered away from your goals a bit and you aren’t where you think you should be. But if you look back on where you actually started, you’re ahead of that “old” you.

You’re not at Square One.

Last summer, one of my friends made a goal for herself: she could do three pushups and wanted to be able to do ten by her birthday, which was a few weeks away. We put together some workouts and progressions and before too long, the moment of truth arrived.

It was a pretty amusing moment of truth.

We were at a Young Professionals’ Networking event and may or may not have had a few drinks before I remembered (very excitedly, of course) that she needed to test her strength. After a little convincing, we went to the back on the venue (so as to avoid baffled looks) and did pushups. She hit all ten, and there were lots of hugs and excited squeals to celebrate her accomplishment.

It was fantastic to see the look in her eyes and excitement about accomplishing something that had been a far-off goal just a few weeks previously.

But even more interesting was the conversation we had a few weeks later.

She hadn’t kept up with the pushups and – you guessed it! – lamented that she was back at “Square One”. But the funny thing is, when I asked her how many she could do, she said, “only six.”

Six… SIX?

How the heck is that back at Square One when she could do DOUBLE what she started with?

Sure, it might not be all ten any more, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t work her way back. It’s totally achievable. Since she’s accomplished it once, she KNOWS she can do it again. It will just take a bit of time.

You might not be at your best, but you sure as heck are farther than when you started.

That’s Square One and a Half.

Next time you fall off the wagon and are nursing your bumps, change your internal dialogue around the situation. You’re rarely starting from scratch.

Embrace the journey ahead, realize you’re at Square One and a Half, and start working again.

You’ve got this.


Have you ever fallen off the wagon? What helped you get back on? Leave a comment below to help other Square One and a Half-ers out!

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