Throughout my fitness journey I learned that the one thing you needed to transform your health is probably the least most talked about. It's not motivation, determination, discipline, or any of the other traits you probably are thinking of. Although those things are incredibly important they are not the greatest thing you need. I've found that the one thing you need in order to transpire change is forgiveness.
It's common, but not the reason for some of us, to start our fitness journey because we're trying to "fix" something. It's as if we're programmed by society and outside expectations to view the changes that occur in our bodies, like getting out of shape and gaining weight, as a negative affect of shifting our precious energy into another area of our live's needs for that season or period in life. In my personal experience, I gained weight because I was pregnant with two children and after Olivia was born I was more focused on my career and family life than I was on losing the baby weight.
As much as others told me it was "OK." There was a part of me that felt guilty for not being like those other women who seemed to bounce right back to pre baby shape in 6 weeks. There was a huge part of me that almost shamed myself for not being this "perfect" mother/wife who had it all together. This mindset of guilt and shame was the seed that planted the stories of failure in my mind which then became toxic to my mental and physical health. The feelings of shame and self blame are cues that we all need in order to pay more attention to the actions that lead us there in the first place. These feelings are actually the first steps of self forgiveness and its a feeling we all need in order to let go and move forwards towards our health goals.
While there's no way to reverse time and undo what's happened in the past, you can make peace with it and provide yourself closure.
Here's 4 steps you can take towards self forgiveness:
- Remind yourself that no one is perfect, including you. This might be the most important step. It's easy to get caught in a perfectionism mindset. But making mistakes is part of the journey. I read somewhere before that underneath one successful moment is a thousand failures and it is so true. Imagine all the times a baby falls in order to learn to make that first step, they rarely get it on the first try, and they keep getting up until they've got it. Babies don't aim for perfection they aim for progress when their learning to walk. It's something as adults we seem to forget as we're learning how to create a healthy balance in our lives.
- Reduce rumination and focus on rumbling. In Brene Brown's book, Rising Strong, she refers to a reality check that we need as rumbling. While its easy to mistake rumbling for rumination, she states that "rumbling requires a degree of mindfulness." Ruminating is not being mindful, because you are over-identifying with something or ignoring stuff. But rumbling requires a little self identification of what you need to understand about yourself and the limitations or boundaries that need to be placed in order to not feel that same pain or suffering.
- Practice self-forgiveness. Like yoga, body building, playing a sport, or even learning a new skill; you need to practice! It's ok to recall or relive some of the past experiences and feelings the situation has caused. And when you do each time give yourself the grace, compassion, and empathy needed in order to forgive and let go. Some days its easier and others its more painful to recall. It's process that can lead to healing on step at a time.
- Embrace self-acceptance and change the things you have the power to control. The past is done, its written and we cannot rewrite it. So come to terms with it and accept it. What you do have the power to change is your future by redefining your actions towards it today. Getting stuck in a playback loop of the past is detrimental to your mental health and can have long term effects like depression or immune dysfunction. Keep that in mind the moment you feel like hitting replay and watching the scene in your mind over and over again.
We often view health and fitness as physical conditions such as exercise and what we put into our bodies as fuel. And as much as the conversation is changing these days that health also equates to our mental and emotional wellbeing, there's still a whole lot of unsaid conversations about anxiety, depression, and the physical affects of mental illnesses or emotional imbalance. When we are unable to identify our mistakes, forgive ourselves, and let it go; we hold ourselves back from our greatest potential in living the most healthiest and happiest lives we deserve.