Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year's Evolution

Happy New Year!  Today is the first day of a brand new year where people feel the powerful lightness of new beginnings and clean slates.  Fresh commitments to be a better person, parent, spouse, employee.  To be organized and punctual and vice-free.  And, most commonly, thinner.

I hate New Year's Resolutions primarily because they don't last.  They have very little staying power.  Any decision made while suffering from a hangover and after being tagged in far too many NYE party photos making your duck lip face shouldn't be taken too seriously.  And very often it's not.  I've seen it time and time again in the gym - the place is packed the first few weeks in January.  You can't get a machine to save your life.  By early February there is a little more room in those classes you wanted to attend.  By the end of February you have the run of the place again.  And as quickly as that the Resolutioners disappear.

This is why I wanted to try my Body Gratitude experiment.  What would happen if I entered the New Year having already practiced for a month what I'm convinced is the secret to all successes?  What if I had already laid the ground work for a brand new tone for my life?  Would I feel differently at the end of 2013 than I felt about 2012?

2012 was personally one of the hardest years I've had in awhile.  Not the hardest, mind you.  I've been through much worse.  But this one really got to me.  By mid-year I was beat down physically, emotionally and spiritually and it took the rest of the year to try and climb back out of that hole.  The worst of it all was not what people did or said to me.  It's what I did and said to myself.  I was a horrible friend to myself.  And like a lot of women I let all that self-hatred manifest itself in hatred for my body.

So, enter 30 Days of Body Gratitude.  Today is day 30. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I was able to come up with 29 separate entries for physical attributes I loved, liked or was ok with.  Contrary to what many thought it wasn't about complimenting or bragging about myself.  It was about making a conscious effort to say nice things to myself and change that internal dialogue.

And you know what?  It kind of worked.  I spent a lot of time each day thinking about what I wanted to post about or how I could spin something that normally was a negative thing for me and change it to a positive one.  I felt responsibility in living up to what I was preaching about so any time I felt those "ugly" thoughts or "fat" thoughts coming on I quickly changed those words in my head or, more importantly, thought about what emotion I was feeling that made me want to say those things and I tried to deal with the real issue.

The best part of all of this wasn't what I said to myself each day.  It was the feedback I got from others and the gratitude posts from them.  There weren't a lot of people that went the distance with me.  I had quite a few that started strong and didn't make it.  I had a few that just popped in once in awhile to contribute on days when they were probably feeling pretty decent about themselves.  I had a few surprises from people who never posted but at the end said they were sad to see it go as it made a difference in how they looked at their own bodies each day.  How amazing is that?  That made it totally worth it to feel so vulnerable and exposed most days when I posted, wondering when someone was going to call bullshit on me.  And one gorgeous friend has decided to put her scale away for a year because of this project.  Fantastic!  I am truly inspired by all that came out to play with me.

Sadly, I had some friends who gave up quickly or couldn't contribute at all, saying that there was nothing they were grateful for on their own body.  That kind of self-loathing for their own bodies speaks to a much, much greater problem which was the real root of what I was trying to accomplish for myself.  It's what I believe is the secret to all successes or goals.  It's love for yourself.

So many think they will love themselves when they get to their goal weight.  Or when they find the right person to spend their lives with.  Or perhaps when they find that perfect job that will finally make them feel like a success in their professional lives.  But what if they have it all backwards?  What if the only way to get to those points is to love yourself first, thereby inviting all those things into your life because you are DESERVING and WORTHY of all good things.  What if the key to your resolution of being a better person, parent, spouse, employee is all about knowing, first and foremost, that you "are worthy because you were born"?

I'm still going to struggle with worthiness on a daily basis.  Even through all this gratitude I've been practicing I have still been battling with that which should be my birthright.  It doesn't help that I'm still hurting from losing friendships that I thought I'd have forever just because I made a career choice that was better for me and my family.  And just a couple of weeks ago I was reminded, yet again, that I was "a stupid mistake" (not my words).  It all takes it's toll.  But I didn't manifest those feelings into calling myself ugly or disgusting these past 30 days.  And that's worth it because those were my weapons of choice.  Instead I dealt with the real issues and feelings and felt what I had to feel instead of beating up on my body just to take it out on someone.  It was painful but I did it.

So what is my plan for the New Year?  I'm going to keep practicing loving myself and I'm going to find a way to focus on worthiness.  And I will not let a number on the scale dictate my worth any longer.  I know the issues are bigger than that and I will not shrink away from them and hide under a bathroom appliance.  This doesn't mean I won't try to be healthy.  I will still try to eat better and exercise smarter and feel stronger and leaner because I like feeling that way and I like being able to participate in activities that require me to take care of my body.  And there are still things that I would change about my body. But I will do my best to try to approach my body with the intention of love and gratitude for what it can do for me rather than trying to fit it in to some mold before I can love it.  Love first, change second. And I'm not calling this a resolution because those come every year.  I'm hoping to evolve to a point where I never again have to start over on this project.

I no longer have a goal weight or a goal size.  I really don't.  I do have a couple of other goals, though.  First, I'm going to try my hardest to never say anything to myself that I wouldn't say to one of my best friends.  Next, I will no longer wait for the perfect weight or size before I try new things or new activities. It's time to start living and achieving all the things I want for myself. And finally, my last goal is a line from one of my favorite Brandi Carlile songs - "Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?".  This includes being a blessing to myself.  And unless there is some new way to measure blessings I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with a god damned scale. 

May your 2013 and forever after be filled with all the blessings and worth that you are entitled to just because you were born.

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