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

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Amber — Preparation, Perseverance and Perspective

(A picture of Quarry Rock, the place we hiked to from Deep Cove...I didn't take it, just found it online!)

PREPARATION:

I decided to take some time yesterday afternoon to do some inventive and industrious cooking, getting all my food preparation for the week done in one go!  It felt so satisfying to purchase fresh produce, invent new recipes, organize myself in the kitchen, cook multiple dishes at once, package the final products up, stick them in the fridge/freezer, clean up all the dishes, and put a mental check mark beside a vital, weight-loss-necessitating task!  I have learned from trial and error that food preparation is one of the “make it or break it” factors of weight loss success (and it also greatly affects the ole’ pocketbook!).  I prepare food ahead of time now because I made the decision to treat myself fairly by being PREPARED for hunger and having healthy and delicious foods at the ready — it just makes sense, right?    So, I made a quinoa salad for lunches Mon-Wed (see recipes category), a pot of dal for lunches Thurs-Sunday (see recipes category), and some roasted veggies that are ready to be made into soups or casseroles for next week!  I also have an abundance of fruit and nuts on hand as snacks.   I am awesome.

Oh and…

Dear hunger,

I’m going to keep you at bay this week, as I refuse to be tempted in unhealthy directions by letting you get out of hand!  Let’s just pretend you are one of those games at the arcade where the hippos pop up out of a hole, and I am the kid with the padded mallet!  SMASH! POING! K’DONK!  That’s right, back to your hidey hole! Wha-pa-cha!

From Amber

PERSEVERANCE:

I went on a hike today with my SAWB (super awesome workout buddy — check out her super awesome blog) from Deep Cove up to Quarry Rock (see picture above, which, NO I did not take).

It was the first hike of the season, which is usually the most arduous, as all of your major muscles groups are being engaged at the same time and there are many intervals of stairs going up and down.  The last time we did this hike consistently was in 2008, at which point it took us both at least 45 minutes to get to the top, on a good day.  This time around, to our surprise, it only took us about 30 MINUTES!  I guess working out for the past four months really HAS made a difference.  I felt so proud of myself for making it all the way to the top feeling only slightly winded but totally invigorated!  It’s all part of the new me that I’m getting used to — a me I am very VERY proud of, a me who is STRONG, FIT, ACTIVE, BEAUTIFUL and HAPPY.   Perseverance, the “NEVER GONNA GIVE UP” quality, is what gets me to the top…always.  🙂

PERSPECTIVE:

Deb and I had a great conversation yesterday about perspective.  As human beings we are, for the most part, the PRODUCT of our thought patterns and beliefs about ourselves.  Every religion that I know of through history has brought to light the connection between what we THINK and what we ARE.  It is a profound connection, one that should not be overlooked or unattended to.  We have the choice to perceive ourselves differently and move in the direction of that new self perspective.  I am not identified with being overweight and depressed anymore, even though there are still pounds for me to lose and moments of sadness and struggle, because, quite simply, I don’t want to be that person anymore.  I am choosing to identify with health and balance, hard work and discipline, happiness and enjoyment of life because those are the realities I want to be living out.  Each one of us has the power to make these kind of choices, and as I said in the introduction to this blog —  CHOICES EQUAL CHANGE.  I am going to make choices this week that fit with my new self perspective.  Simple as that!

So, now for the weekly goals and mood/food update….

MOOD:  Proud of myself.  Feeling light and happy.  Determined.

FOOD:

Breakfast:  6:30 am — greens powder; 7:40 am — one medium americano from JJ Bean; 8:20 am — one hardboiled egg, two mini bran muffins (c/o DEB’S AMAZING BAKING SKILLS!  Thanks for bringing them over last night, doll face!).

Lunch:  11:10 am — eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and arugula, a few (didn’t eat many of them) friend potato hashbrowns, and one glass of water with lime.

Snack:  10:15 am (post hike) — one medium green tea and one half of a donut from Honey’s Donuts (quite honestly, and I’m not exaggerating at all, You. Have. Not. Lived. Until. You. Have Tried. One. Of. These. Donuts.); 1:40 pm — three pieces of fresh pineapple (got two whole pineapples on sale from Donald’s Market for $2 each, chopped them up and now I get to graze!!); 2:50 pm — one tall decaf americano from Starbucks.

Dinner:  5:00 pm — quinoa salad!

WEEKLY GOALS — April 12-19:

1.  Go to Curves three times and fit in at least two extra exercise sessions on top of that (hiking, jogging, aquafit, etc).

2.  Take my Greens Powder every morning.

3.  Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.

4.  Bring packed lunches/snacks to work and spend money ONLY ON COFFEE and nothing else. (This one’s gonna be a challenge, but BRING IT ON!)

5.  Do my morning pages.

I will update at the end of the week on my progress with these!

Thanks for reading.

Ovr’n’out!

Amb