Updated: Dec 12, 2021
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I sometimes have to laugh when I can see the frustration in peoples eye’s in my answer(s) to their training and nutrition questions. They’re frustrated because often, my answer isn’t an answer. It’s “it depends.” Let me be clear - I’m not laughing at anyone. I’m laughing because I relate all too well to not wanting to dig into the next step to identify an actual answer.
The next step is looking into ourselves. We have to be quiet. And patient. And uncomfortable. Then, we can identify a more true reasoning as to why we’re even asking about if intermittent fasting is right for us. We have to ask if we’re chasing the next thing because when we’re thinner/stronger/more competitive THEN we’ll be happy. Then we’ll be accepted by the communities we want to be in, get the girl/guy, get the job (none of which fix anything - let’s save that for another post).
Most of the time, the thing that needs to change isn’t what or how much we do. It’s how we think and what we believe. Challenge the belief that you need to be anything other than exactly who you are to be worthy and to be the recipient of joy, happiness, success, and love.
And it’s hard. Our culture makes it really hard to believe that we are enough, and also (simultaneously) that we are not too much. We’re given a very convincing script from a young age, that no matter what we are, it’s wrong. Can we just logically look at how messed up that is for a second? No matter what I am, I’m wrong?! Nope. No way. I won’t entertain that anymore.
So, if you’re asking me what your macro-balance should be, what your training split needs to look like, or if you should take a rest day my answer will probably be ‘it depends.’ Chances are, once you understand a basic definition of health, you already know the answer. We just have to take some time to clear out all the mixed messaging and the bullshit. Maybe a lot of time, because there’s a lot of bullshit.
But if we can get quiet, something pretty damn magical usually happens. That’s when our knowing appears. Usually, what people need help with isn’t sticking to a certain diet or training plan. We need help learning what questions to ask ourselves that will help uncover that knowing. And then we need support in doing a scary thing - trusting our knowing over trusting what the world is telling us.
Look at Simone Biles. She chose to disappoint the world before she would chose to disappoint herself. She knew what was best for her. And she likely had one or two awesome people in her corner telling her it was okay for her to trust herself. Simone if this ever reaches you, thank you. Your decision to choose yourself gave permission to so many others to do the same.
I don’t think this work is easy. I often question my decisions and what the right balance is for me between being held accountable to my goals and knowing when something isn’t serving me. I’m only beginning to unwind the mental and behavioral patterns that my athlete, my disordered self, and my inner child have held onto. I’m beginning the work and questioning around what still serves me and what I need to let go. And I’m leaning into relationships that help me ask questions.
Here’s the advice I can give:
Work on quieting the voices in your head. There are usually a lot of them, and sometimes the loudest ones aren’t always the ones that hold our knowing. It starts with identification. Notice which voice (often an emotion) is talking, and let it know that you hear it. Just identify, you don’t have to do anything else yet.
Look at the content you’re absorbing. When my Instagram feed is full of figure competitors, of course I think I need that body to be happy. When it’s full of ultra runners, I think I’ve found my happiness in a run. Oh, or that new dating app - I’ve just been on the wrong ones and my person is hiding in this new one! None of which is true. I’m switching a lot of my scrolling out for podcasts.
Lean into people that will ask you questions instead of giving you answers. You don’t need yet another person’s opinion on what you should do. You could however, probably use someone to help you get quiet and sit there with you. You could use someone that will ask questions to help you look inside of yourself. Who in your life encourages you to explore and figure things out for yourself? Hold onto those people. And yes, your therapist should absolutely be one, but I’d also suggest having some therapeutic coaches, mentors, and friends.
If you’re in a place where you’ve untied worthiness and happiness/joy/success/love from an asthetic ideal, congratulations - you’ve done some good work. When that is the case, and your foundational identity contains more than just ‘athlete’ or ‘human that is physically desirable by current cultural standards’ we can have a very different conversation. I LOVE that I identify as an athlete, and that me as an athlete will look different in various phases of my life and as I age. But it only works for me to pursue athletic goals because they don’t define who I am as a person. I think it’s easy to get lost in an external pursuit in hopes of solving an internal issue.
Keep chewing on things. Keep questioning the script given to you. Until next time.