Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why do I lunge? Hatred or Love?

 How would your life be different if you could double your confidence level?

Wow. What a loaded question. A friend asked me that question a week ago, and the answers have been rattling around in my brain ever since. I stick with my original answer: “I would be better in relationships because I wouldn’t be looking for someone else to validate me.” (I admit my answer probably did not come out that smoothly). Even after I gave my answer, the question got me thinking a lot about the source of my own confidence and my motivation for exercising.

My thoughts took me to the novel “Eyes Wide Open” by Ted Dekker. I won’t go too much into the story, but the struggle of one of the main characters really gave me new insight into confidence and self-perception. The female character is being told she is ugly. She is told by someone in authority (paraphrased) “you think you are average or even pretty, but I’m going to show you just how ugly you are. Then you will be able to appreciate how we recreate you into something beautiful.” She is exposed to mirrors that distort and contort her image into a hideous creature. She is exposed to the distortion long enough that it becomes her reality. And she buys into the lie that she is a hideous being that needs to undergo extreme transformation.

I had to set the book down for a moment when her struggle really hit me. Isn’t that our own struggle? If there were no outside influences we would look in the mirror or some other facet of our life and think “I’m pretty average, even above average.”  But every single day we are exposed to false mirrors that show us how we should be displeased with ourselves. We are shown the images of chiseled physiques and airbrushed beauty. We are told over and over again that we are not even close. We are not average. We are below average. Hideous. And only by buying this product and that product and doing this exercise or not eating these foods will we become beautiful. Any effort made to improve our life is born out of a place of self-hatred. We are sold on the lie that we are in need of extreme transformation to even be tolerable.

I’ve told some people that I was less confident and more critical of myself when I lost 35ish pounds. How can that be? I was getting every compliment in the world and the reflection in the mirror was definitely smaller. But that transformation came out of a place of self-loathing. Because hatred was my motivation for restricting my eating (ahem, dieting), when I arrived at a lower weight that hatred was still there. It was telling me I still wasn’t small enough. Or that maybe I was small enough by my nose was too big or my hair too flat. I hadn’t been choosing to eat a Spartan diet because I loved myself and wanted to make food choices that would add to my health. I was living on salads and eggs because I believed that what I saw in the mirror was grotesque. And that thought stayed with me as the number on the scale went down. And it’s a curious thing. Now that the scale has gone back up I actually am more accepting of this body that I have.

After a hiatus from strength training I’ve been slowly adding weights back into my weekly activity. I love strength training in a gym setting but hate doing it at home. And with a serious lack of gyms within a 40 mile driving radius, I’m pretty much stuck with my dumbbells. And it’s like pulling teeth to even start a home workout. But today I reminded myself that I want to be able to carry my own groceries and get off the toilet by myself as long as possible, so it was time to pump some iron. As I started doing lunges I caught a glimpse of my legs in the mirror. Hideous. Ugly. Grotesque. These were the words that came to mind. I chided myself for poor discipline and told myself that I needed to start doing 100’s of squats and lunges to get rid of the lumpiness. But then the other thought passed through my head. Those thoughts come from a place of hate. Even if you arrive at less lumpiness your voice of hate will always tell you you’ve never arrived. You’re a slave to that voice. So I changed my focus. I want to be strong to continue being active with my kids. I want to be able to rock a strength training workout because of the empowering feeling it gives me.

I want my confidence to come from a place of love, not a place of hate. I want to choose to exercise not because I hate my body and want to change it, but because I love my body and I want it to stay active, vibrant, and powerful.

No comments:

Post a Comment