Recently, I asked my students to write about something that had recently begun or ended in their life.
Their ears perked up immediately, and I have to say the prompt got me thinking too. What had I given up in my life recently? What have I learned to let go of, in order to make space for new things?
Now, there are a whole lot of emotional things I could bring up, or relationships that I’ve moved past. But a few weeks ago on my birthday, I was reminded of one have it I had recently given up without even meaning to.
I looked in the mirror on the morning that I turned 29, smiled, and realize that it had been weeks since I’ve measured myself.
Whenever I’ve written about fitness, I’ve tried to be honest and that I’m nowhere near perfect when it comes to self-love are having a positive body image. I struggle like anyone else. While I had learned to let go of the scale, I still measured my body every day. Bust, waist, hips, thighs. Every morning, sometimes even multiple times a day, I would take stock of how much “progress” my body had made. How much I ate or whether I worked out were anchored to that daily act of measurement.
In the past few months, something has changed. I’ve implemented so many different things– CrossFit, Muay Thai, Yoga– into my routine with running, but I frankly just lost the ability to focus on these a static measurements. I have regularly found myself working out 2 to 3 times a day, and having the occasional private yoga session with my boyfriend in the evening to try and recover from it all.
Here’s what I know I’ve learned before, and will probably keep learning for the rest of my life: the more I focus on my body’s ability to perform rather act rather than just be seen, the better I am able to redefine how I perceive success. Instead of using a measuring tape to figure out exactly how much I would let myself eat that day, I’d see three different work outs in my calendar, listen to the growling in my stomach, and stop leaving the meal I had brought in my lunch bag untouched. It is impossible to perform at the level I want if my body doesn’t have fuel, so I’d set that as a higher priority than what the tape might say. Frankly, at a certain point, I just sort of forgot to measure my waist and just measured my ability to be moving at the end of three hard sessions.
A few days ago, I decided to check in with both my weight and my measurements, just to see if my actions have created any noticeable change.
My waist and hips had generally stayed the same. But I’ve gained about a solid inch of muscle in my arms. I can also with more, run faster, and throw a better punch that I could a few months ago. Those seem like successes to be happy with.
Here’s the thing: I don’t think you need to spend hours in the gym to attain some level of happiness, worth, or pride in your body. I don’t think the change happened when I started spending more time working out, I think the change happened when I had new, exciting goals for my body. The ability to run faster and focus on that was why I had dropped the scale in the first place. The ability to do new, crazy things with my body is, but I hope, has let me get rid of the measuring tape too.
So, with my marathon season about a month away from the end, it’s time to start rethinking what’s next. Here’s what I’m sure of: it definitely won’t be boring, and I’m excited to measure how successful I am by how much fun I’m having along the way.