Exercise and the Inner Critic

Today’s chapter of The Perfection Detox was “Change Your Relationship with Exercise.”

Petra’s words were, “a day for me would be defined as good or bad depending on the length and quality of my workout routines.”

As for me, I simply cannot relate. (Riiiight)!

Sometimes, I feel like there are a whole airplane full of people in my head… and the ones that chatter the longest and loudest are the ones in the back row, next to the toilets!
Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about?
I have found movement to be a surefire way to quiet the noice, bump the negativity, and restore mental peace.  After laying it “all-out” through intense exercise, a moderate-paced long jog, or even just walking the dog, I feel free. My body accomplished something magnificent and I feel absolutely wonderful. It’s the antidote to anxiety for me.  It truly transcends me to this happy place where all feels well.

Where I have to check myself before I wreck myself is when I overvalue the vanity side of exercise.  It’s a good thing to want to maintain a healthy BMI.  It’s a bad thing to obsess over every ounce of body weight.  When “image” becomes everything, good enough is never good enough.

It’s a common pitfall among fitness professionals.  Well-known fitness journalist, and  Fitness Test Drive blogger, Amanda Vogel, recently and passionately wrote “Does The Fitness Industry Have a Body Image Problem” for IDEA Fitness Journal.  A very insightful read, and turns out- yes, it does (we do).

Here’s an example of how image can become the fuel that my inner critic (the passenger on the back seat of the airplane in my head with all that chatter) runs with.

In fall 2015, I packed on 7-pounds, without changing a thing with my diet or activity level, but I was dealing with quite a bit of stress. Stress hormones can totally wreck your sleep and, also, pack on pounds.  January 2016, I had the biggest photo shoot of my career, and I was heavier than I’ve been in years. It was an entire sports bra shoot. My inner critic shook her finger and ranted “You’ve been lean, but now you’re not! You amateur! You are on the package of fitness products? Nobody would buy this with your image on the cover! Too bad it wasn’t last April- you looked amazing back then! That was what true fitness professionals look like. You shouldn’t even get paid for this!”
That inner critic of mine! I’m telling you, she’s harsh! She sits on the back seat of the airplane, right next to the shitter! She keeps talking, and the shit keeps coming!

I have felt, as a fitness professional, that I’m a failure to the fitness community if I look anything less than perfect. And yet, embracing Mother Nature and the aging process, I know that the perfect body is not sustainable. So, even when I am happy with my appearance, I feel like a fraud, because I know it won’t last. And it won’t!

I choose to release my choke hold death grip on “looking the part,” and focus more on just living the part. I am educated, experienced, fit, and knowledgeable- I am the “consummate fitness professional,” said Lindsay Vastola in my PFP Magazine feature. I also have two children and an adoring husband that need me to be spending more time enjoying our family and being 100% present with them.  I cannot do that if my mind is all-consumed with what my body looks like and when I can get my next workout in.

I love how movement can bring joy and happiness.  An able body is a gift, and what a pleasure it is to use that gift!  I don’t want to taint all of that goodness by trumping emotional wellness with physical figure.  I am a fitness professional.  I will always try to keep my body in shape.  But may that not be the reason I exercise.  I hope the same for you, too!

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