I feel like I have been on cruise control for the past 4-5 weeks. Training hard, eating clean, finding balance, feeling positive, and making progress! Even though I want to continue to get leaner, I feel content with where I am right now, which feels like a contradiction to me. Doesn’t it seem like an oxymoron to be content with where you are while still striving to reach someplace else?
The cliché that says, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” never really rang true for me until now. Being content and being complacent are not the same thing. I’m content with the balance I’ve struck, I’m content with the progress I’m making, but that doesn’t mean that I’m complacent about my physique or my fitness level.
Any person who’s read at least a handful of my blogs knows that fitness, body image, and competing have always been a rollercoaster for me – doing awesome one week and in a pit of despair the next. Eating like a competitor one week and drinking like a rockstar the next. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out how I switched gears from those ups and downs to coasting along like I have been.
I have a hypothesis or two that involve motivation. There are two kinds of motivation that propel us forward in life – positive and negative. I’m floating in a sea of positive motivators right now – I feel good about how I look, I am proud of how strong I’ve become, I feel like a million bucks, and I’m making my trainers proud too. When I am breaking personal bests, happy with how I look in the mirror at the gym, and actually enjoy my quality time with the stairmill, those positive feelings and experiences continue to reinforce my motivation to keep going.
However, this is a pretty significant departure from what my motivators typically are. Historically, here are some of my motivators:
- I hate my body/I feel fat/I feel out of shape
- I have to be perfect to have value
- I’ll show [insert ex-boyfriend’s name here] what a mistake he made
- I wish I looked like [insert fitness model/figure competitor’s name here]
- I binged last night/this weekend and need to compensate
- So-and-so is so much fitter/skinnier/more attractive than me
- All of my problems would go away if I [lost 10 lbs, was 10% body fat, won a competition, etc.]
- I need to prove [insert naysayer here] wrong
Don’t get me wrong, I think that negative motivators do have a useful time and place. I think they are effective for a “wake-up call” type of situation to shock you into action. Having naysayers can give you a little boost too, as long as you let it fuel your determination instead of break you down. Ultimately, you should endeavor to be healthy purely for yourself though, not for someone else. And if you look at a lot of my negative motivators, they are either wholly or partially tied to other people and not to myself. And that is why they never last.
It’s sad but true that many people engage in exercise and healthy eating out of self-loathing. I know how it feels because I’ve certainly done my share of it. Somehow, I’ve snapped myself out of that though and feel like I am running on pride, happiness, positivity, and self-love. I think it’s a combination of finding the right balance (the holy grail of my fitness goals) and time.
Time is important because in the beginning, it will be hard. You will be out of shape, you will crave junk food, you will be hungry, you will be sore, you will be weak, you will be tired. But, if you stick with it long enough (the secondary holy grail of my fitness goals), eventually you rise to the occasion. It’s not that it got easier, it’s that you got stronger.
It’s taken 2-3 months of consistent training, trials and tribulations, and accomplishments and setbacks to get to where I am. But I kept going and stuck with it. And now instead of being bucked off the horse yet another time, I’m galloping along the racetrack and feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my face.