My fitness journey began because I wanted to lose weight. I was so tied to a specific number I thought would mean beauty, sex appeal and success. It was a number I never weighed before and one I wasn't even sure was realistic. It was a number that would make me so small, that I became obsessed with weighing myself several times a day.
So obsessed I ignored my appetite.
So obsessed I ignored the dizziness.
So obsessed I lost the pleasure food once gave.
Does this sound familiar?
Apparently, I’m not alone. 91% of women feel that they need to lose weight to adapt their body to fit in with a social standard when only 5% of women possess the body type being portrait in the media.1
︎Looking back, I realized this mindset not only shrank my body but also my soul. It kept my purpose in this world small and meek because I was trying to be small and meek.
How sad an existence is that?!
But millions of us live this way. Chained to the scale. Imprisoned by this arbitrary little number that can change in an instant if you breathe, drink, eat or poop.
The moment I shifted my mindset from small and skinny to strong and confident, everything began to change.
The less I focused on the number the stronger I grew mind, body and soul.
I realized empowered and confident is better than small and meek. I realized what I saw in the mirror, and how I felt about myself, brought forward and strengthened my favourite qualities. And, lessened the discontent for the things I didn't like about my body.
The longer I pursued this journey, the less I relied on the scale of validation. My day could no longer be determined by a number.
Here’s what I know for sure. We’re meant to feel as one with our body. We’re meant to nourish, celebrate, move, love and give grace to our body.
But we get stuck. We lose our way. We forget. We’re influenced by external factors about the ‘should’s’ of our body.
The beautiful protective force field that is our confidence gets weak, cracked and breaks down. It allows that negativity to enter and we struggle. We stop wearing what we love. We stop feeling good in our skin. We begin to believe our body to be wrong in some way. Our confidence ultimately suffers. We can go on for years in this cycle never remembering to come back to feeling as one with our body.
After years of doing the work myself, I’m happy to report I smash scales instead of stand on them. I eat for joy and the energy I need. I dress easily most days and have even been an underwear model.
As you read this, we will be as close to summer as we’ve been all year. The weather has warmed up. The sun shines more. The trees and flowers are blooming. The heat of the season is upon us with its longer days. But many of us are still feeling the weight of the layers we wear on our bodies.
That weight can be physical, actual clothing, mental and/or emotional weight. All of it valid, but not all of it helpful or purposeful on our journeys towards personal development and living our best expression.
When our body confidence is low or fragile that transition from winter to spring and summer can be tricky. I’ve come to learn that confidence is a skill set and developed over time. It’s seasons of riding the ups and downs, going through life to accumulate the experiences that help us build the level of confidence needed to feel successful and capable in all areas of life.
If confidence is a skill, then it can be learned and acquired like any other skill. First, we take inventory on ourselves. Understand where we struggle and get clear on what we want to learn. We want to approach this learning with an open mind to new knowledge and ways of thinking. We may be challenging current belief systems to replace them with more positive ones, and this can be challenging work in and of itself. Next, we don’t want rush the process. Take time to practice this new skill, especially when confronted with old patterns.
I like to think of self confidence like a force field that deflects negative actions and beliefs from entering our mind space. When our force field is strong it works well to protect us. We flow through our days, stacking those wins, generating ideas, solving challenges and making decisions more easily.
When it’s weakened all that negativity is flowing in and disrupting our belief in self. We begin to act and react based on negative thoughts and emotions. We lose our ability to follow through and know what it feels like to be successful.
There’s so many approaches to building back confidence. For some they can flip a switch and push out the negative, put those blinders on and get to work. I want to share 5 ways you can begin to explore building your confidence.
1. Achieve the result at the beginning.
Visualization is a powerful tool to creating our own reality. There’s a reason why the top athletes use this technique to deepen their practice. Repeating the ideal outcome over and over in their minds helps to develop the path they will follow when executing the play in real life. We are no different. Begin to visualize your perfect day. The one you wake up easily, pull anything from your closet and feel great, enjoy your meals guilt free, move your body with ease and injury free. Begin with the vision of where you want to go and you’ll more easily identify the areas to work on as you create your reality.
2. Feel your Feelings.
Too often we’re told to push away how we feel, hustle through it, grin and bear it. All these saying are encouraging us to ignore our feelings. This often leads to numbing behaviours so we can escape or disconnect. Emotional eating is just one example of how we can manage emotions. Over time this leads to a belief that our feelings are not valid, are unimportant and don’t matter as much as something or someone else. It also reinforces habits around food or other things that aren’t in line with how we ultimately want to live. So we begin by honouring our emotions, validating their presence, facing some of their root causes and inevitably you will develop a new strength to manage emotions and the habits we’ve developed to cope.
3. Move with Intention.
Just because a particular workout is effective doesn’t mean you love it. And we know if we don’t love it we won’t do it consistently. So my best advice when it comes to movement is, find something you LOVE and do it consistently. Dance, run, walk, hike, swim, resistance train, play a sport, when it comes to the benefits of cardiovascular health and maintaining general health consistently moving and doing an activity you love will trump the start and stop of an activity you hate any day. When we love movement we can become more present in that activity, reap the rush of endorphins released and use it as stress relief too.
4. Get off the Scale.
Often information is power but in the case of the sale it’s not powerful if it over takes our mindset. I’d encourage you to explore other definitions of success beyond numerical values like the scale. Consider energy levels, relationship with food, hair, skin, nail improvements, more balanced view towards movement, improvements in confidence are all better measures of your success to build confidence and feel good in your skin. One of the worst things to become is a false positive, someone who reaches their weight goal but still feels the same inside.
5. Meet yourself where you’re at.
Just because it’s summer and every body is a bikini body doesn’t mean you need to force yourself into a bikini. Meet yourself where you’re at. Perhaps this year you’ll commit to wearing cropped pants, shorts or jump into a few photos. It doesn’t have to mean you show more of your body.
Remember, give yourself grace in doing this work. Its rewards are deep and beautiful but can also bring up a lot of wounds. So please create a safe space for yourself before beginning. Set aside time where you won’t be interrupted and be consistent with the practices.
This is your life, your body and ultimately the journey you take towards happiness. Build that confidence force field up nice and strong so that you can face anything including what I hope you’ll some day agree is a silly little scale.