radical self acceptance – why I believe it only works if you’ve first achieved RADICAL SELF RESPONSIBILITY

I noticed something interesting in my journalling recently. When I write about my goals for continued weight loss, and staying committed to my training for mountain trail races as well as increasing my personal fitness, there is a feeling of guilt that exists around these topics. 

As I have been working my way (more then once!) through the Desire Map program, I’ve learned something key to my flourishing – that wanting what you want is OKAY, and that you don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of your desires. Especially the pure, good, healthy, holistic, life-enhancing ones! 

So why the guilt when I write about my continued health and weight loss goals? 

I think it has to do with some crusty, old, unhelpful and polarized thought patterns that still live in my brain surrounding body image and definitions of “healthy weight”. As I was overweight most of my life, I found myself caught between two schools of thought about my body: 

1. That my body is perfect at any shape, size, or fitness level and I should accept it exactly as is.

and, on the other side of the spectrum…

2.  That my body was made to be healthy, active, and athletic, and there is no genetic reason  or ‘disposition’ that can be blamed for being overweight other than unhealthy lifestyle/eating habits learned over time through family/cultural conditioning. That being overweight is a problem that needs to be fixed so I can be as close to a healthy weight as possible. 

These are the two extremes of “healthy” body ideology – one that seems to say of a healthy weight/BMI “who cares”, and one that seems to say “this is extremely important!”. I am now in a place where I can honestly say that I am leaning more towards the latter than the former; however, I am not allowing myself to go all the way to ‘the other side’. It’s been interesting to see my perspective evolve as I have personally broken free from limiting habits and thought patterns, maintained healthy weight loss and increased my fitness levels. Why? Because this was something I didn’t believe I was capable of before, when I was leaning more towards the “who cares” side of the body argument. I was proven wrong – by myself. 

The truth of the matter is, I do care. I care about how I look and more important, how I feel in this body I inhabit. I care about having the freedom to move and participate and experience things IN my body, WITH my body, BECAUSE of my body. When I was obese, I may have told myself that it was totally acceptable to be overweight, accept yourself completely as is, and not push yourself to change, but I think that was primarily homeostasis, fear, and lack of self confidence on my part. Yeah, it’s true – radical self acceptance is a good way to stay outside of negative societal pressure and media bull crap, but – and bear with me on this but – what happens when we radically accept things about ourselves that are actually harming us? Like binge eating disorders that are self abusive to the body? Excess weight that prevents us from trying a sport we’ve always wanted to try or running around with our kids? From enjoying a healthy sex life? High fat and sugar consumption that causes diabetes, heart disease, degenerative disease, early aging? Heaviness that negatively impacts us personally and professionally because we can’t show up and be fully present, or work as hard as the rest, or are constantly ill due to obesity-related complications? 

So here’s my thought, based on personal experience – take it or leave it, but at least consider it: 

Radical self acceptance is only healthy when it follows radical self responsibility. And radical self responsibility means taking an honest account of what is TRULY not working for you, holding you back, or negatively impacting your life and the lives of those you love. In my opinion, obesity caused by overeating, lack of exercise, emotional wounding, and fear SHOULD NOT BE SOMETHING WE RADICALLY ACCEPT. IT SHOULD BE SOMETHING WE RADICALLY TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR AND BREAK FREE FROM. We CAN do this. It IS possible. It just means changing your mind. 🙂

There. I’ve said my piece. And this is not an anti-overweight rant. Quite the opposite. This is about identifying mental blocks and hurdles where they exist, and facing them head on rather than glossing over them and allowing self acceptance to become a limiting factor. I was an overweight person. I know how challenging it is to overcome life-long habits and thought patterns, and that radical self responsibility taking is a mountain to climb. This is just a reflection on my part about the guilt I saw creeping in for wanting to be thin. This is me saying to myself, “I believe that it’s a good thing to be thin and healthy. It’s what I want, it’s what I’ve worked for, and it fits with my evolving life goals.” And this thought comes POST radical self responsibility taking. 😉

It’s amazing how your thinking can shift! 

Thanks for hearing me out. 

Ovr’N’Out!

Amber

This is a good thing – 140 lb

Well, it’s official – I am the lowest weight I’ve been in my adult life…and the numbers are just going to keep dropping as the fitness and kilometers I run increase and increase. Man, I feel good. That’s all I’ve got to say. Life is NOT perfect. I still have…obstacles…stresses…heartbreak…loneliness…etc etc etc, but knowing that you’re making progress and getting to where you want to be is ammunition to keep fighting and seeking and weathering the storms. Right?

I also decided to dye my hair black…’cause why not!?

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Let’s see if I can’t be 130 by my 30th B-day!? It’s possible.

Thanks for reading.

Ovr’n’out!

 

quietly defying the odds

There is something that I’ve been trying to put my finger on lately. It has to do with the stigma around being ‘fat’ – one that is hard to outgrow and outrun. It also has to do with the lack of credit people who are in the process of weight loss receive for the hard work (mental and physical) that goes into changing the body, habits, lifestyle, etc.

I have a friend who quit smoking 2 weeks ago – ONLY two weeks ago – who talks about herself now as an ‘ex-smoker’. I am extremely proud of her for her efforts, knowing that this will most definitely alter her life for the better and give her a reasonable chance of escaping lung disease as she ages. People on facebook, in our friend group, and from elsewhere were congratulating her and giving her a techno high-five for having ‘kicked the habit’, and for some reason I found myself feeling frustrated and envious. I took a moment to reflect on the source of my sour emotions, and discovered something that needed my attention…

Losing weight (getting ‘un-fat’) is a process that does not involve a lot of credit or encouragement from the outside world. Why? Because if you are going about it the slow and steady way that doesn’t involve crash diets, overexercise, surgery, or other forms of masochism, your weight loss and the mental hurdles you overcome are most likely not very obvious to those around you.

Four years ago I decided I was going to get truly healthy, kick the overeating habits, the self sabotage, overcome the fears, get active, etc, but I don’t remember anyone congratulating me for being ‘ex-weighted’ 2 weeks later. No – that never ever happened! Why? Because even though I was ‘doing the stuff’ that leads to being healthy, I was still – for all intents and purposes – a fat girl.

That’s one of the reasons I so desperately needed this blog! I needed a place I could go to explain my process; to journey with others; to have people witness what I was going through and how it was affecting me. I needed a place to go where at least *some* people (that’s you!) would see that I was, indeed, quietly defying the odds.

Now, 50-ish lb lighter and nearly 4 years into blogging (with many weight fluctuations along the way), the people in my community and family do notice the physical and psychological changes that I am now embodying. It wasn’t until it was truly physically noticeable, however, that I received much credit for the years and years of commitment I have been putting into the process. Sad but true.

If you find yourself in that position today, I want to tell you something – something very very very important!!

I. See. You.

I am with you in spirit.

I know that there are moments when you’ve wanted to give up, give in, sabotage, derail, and you stood your ground…and no one saw it.

I know that you got all dressed up for the party after losing 10 lb, feeling so beautiful (or handsome) and healthier than you’ve ever been…and very few people paid you a compliment.

I know that you listen to your breath getting short, and you feel your muscles start to ache, and you keep on going, tired but triumphant, after another arduous workout of some kind or another… even though there’s not a single person around to congratulate you when you get back home!

I know you are quietly defying the odds –  just like me.

So, keep on doing what you’re doing. Seek the people who are on the same journey as you and acknowledge the crap out of each other! That’s why we come to these weight loss blogs – we need to support one another.

Thank you for being here to witness me. I want to witness you as well! If you read this and want to share anything in particular, please comment with your blog post, success story, or something inspirational that you’d like to share! I can’t wait to hear it!

Ovr’N’Out