Shifting Attitudes

Today’s post stems from a lot of recent experiences – from conversations I’ve had with girlfriends, from how I’ve been feeling myself, and from some articles and blog posts I’ve seen kicking around the internet. It’s certainly not a new topic, and I’m not sure I’m going to cover any new ground here, but here goes nothing. I want to spend some time today reflecting on why we, as women, are so damn hard on ourselves.

Most days, I think I am my own harshest critic. I struggle to just let things go. On days when I can’t make it to the gym, I feel guilty for skipping a workout – even if I had a legitimate reason for being unable to make it to my scheduled classes. When my diet isn’t as healthy as I would like it to be, I condemn myself for making poor decisions.

I know I’m not alone here. I cringe every time I hear my friends criticize themselves. These are smart, talented, successful women. They are funny, compassionate, smart, and engaging people; I enjoy their company and I’m lucky to have them as friends. But despite all of their outstanding qualities, I still hear these women put themselves down. They’re not working out enough; they don’t like what they see in the mirror; they’re unhappy with themselves.

And as if it weren’t enough to battle the voices in our own heads, we also get it from everywhere else. If we do achieve our health and fitness goals, suddenly we’re under attack for becoming obsessed with the gym. I’ve heard friends – healthy, strong, inspiring friends – relay their frustration at being told they’ve gone too far. Don’t be overweight – but don’t lose too much weight, or you’ll hear just as many complaints about your appearance. If you don’t work out, you’re lazy – but if you commit to making the gym a priority in your life, suddenly you’re a bad friend who spends too much time working out.

I’m posting today because I’m sick of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been on track this month – and that’s okay. My weight’s gone up a few pounds, I’ve had to miss a lot of classes, and I haven’t prioritized food prep. It would be really easy to look at these past few weeks and see all the things I could have done differently, and to criticize myself for that. Instead, I’m choosing to concentrate on the positives. I didn’t grocery shop or meal prep this weekend because I decided to take some time to spend with friends, and the quality time I spent with them meant more for my health than any of the nutritious meals I would have prepared in my slow cooker. I had to cancel my gym classes this week because I had to have a mole removed to test for melanoma, but I’m not going to be upset about that. I’m prioritizing my long term health, and letting the biopsy site heal cleanly is more important than squeezing in a barre class.

I shouldn’t need to make excuses. I should be able to be at peace with myself, whatever version of myself I’m presenting on any given day. I want to feel as confident on my best days as I do on my worst. I want to silence the voice in my head that spreads doubt, and guilt, and leads me to question my every move. Basically, I want to get to the point that this is my inner monologue, 24/7:

So, I’m challenging myself to create a new habit. Every morning, I’ll set a positive intention for the day – something I’m doing that day for myself, for the pleasure of doing it, not for any other reason. And every night, before going to bed, I’ll reflect on at least one positive thing that happened that day. So as not to overcrowd the blog, I’ll be posting these intentions on my tumblr page. I’ll include a digest of my week’s reflections as part of my Friday roundup.

Do you ever feel like you’re too hard on yourself? Care to join me on this journey? Let me know how you’ll be logging your intentions and reflections – if you’re doing so electronically, share the link in the comments! 

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6 thoughts on “Shifting Attitudes

  1. I stumbled upon your blog through Internet creeping. I love this post. I work out a lot, mostly as an outlet for my anxiety rather than medicine. I have always been an average size but since i started working out i have lost some weight. Everyone comments on how “boney” i have become and how “skinny” i am now. “What are you not eating?” “Eat a cheeseburger!” I work out to feel good and it really sucks to hear that kind of feedback. Sometimes it’s like you can’t win!!

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    • Welcome, Ally! I love when new readers comment. I’m glad you can relate. It is a vicious cycle – criticism from outside leads to self-doubt, and repeats and repeats. Enough is enough! Do you FEEL good? Do you feel healthy and strong? Then that’s all that matters and you should celebrate that!

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  2. Yup, I’m definitely my own biggest critic. Sometimes it’s helpful, but 99.9% of the time it’s not. I made a conscious effort to be kinder to myself this semester, and not beat myself up for not getting A+s when I’ve had a lot on my plate- I’m happier than I have been in quite some time! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  3. This is a really great idea, I think I’m going to try to adopt the idea of setting a positive intention each morning maybe over coffee and reflect on something positive that happened each day at night – it’s certainly something I don’t do enough of!

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