An episode of Barbell Shrugged that I was listening to
earlier has hit a nerve. So I thought, maybe I should write it down…it might help others who have been or are in a similar position.
So I’m going to word vomit and see how it goes…
Intrinsic vs. extrinsic goals…(allow me to explain).
I’ve been a coach for 7 years now
and in that time – I’ve met and coached literally THOUSANDS of people.
In the last 3-4 years I’ve also coached hundreds of women through a journey to increased body confidence.
A journey which starts with setting goals.
In my coaching – it mostly starts with this question:
What is going to make you happy?
It’s a difficult question to answer on the spot. In fact, it requires quite a bit of thinking, and reflection on what has made you happy in the past.
It got me thinking about how I spent (was going to use the word ‘wasted’ there but I will refrain, as it was a learning curve) almost 2 years chasing happiness based on a goal that was entirely consumed by what other people thought of me. It began with thinking that ‘getting shredded’ and being able to see my abs was vitally important in my journey to happiness.
Seriously, I fully believed that I would be happy when I could wake up in the morning and see the definition of my rectus abdominis staring back at me in the mirror.
It is only on reflection that I realise the entire process was making me utterly miserable – not to mention the negative side effects of complete hormonal disaster (my periods stopped), fucked up sleep patterns and the fact that my social life was suffering due to the bland, boring food I was eating every day. The constant fatigue from my gruelling workouts was something I celebrated – it showed I was working hard – right? That’s honestly what I believed to be true at the time.
I carried on. I had a coach who knew what she was doing – so I assumed I was fine. I would just tell myself to ‘man up’ if I so much as showed a flinch of emotion. “Go hard or go home” and all that bullshit. Thing is, it wasn’t my coach’s fault – she designed my program solely around the fact that I told her I would only be happy if I could see my fucking abs before I went on my trip of a lifetime to California (back in 2014).
It took me a LONG time to realise that this goal was ‘extrinsic’ or, to please others and not myself.
I don’t think I was fully aware of the sacrifices I was going to have to make if I wanted to get to this place of ‘happiness’.
When I look back now I can see how ludicrous the whole thing was…but the thing is, I can also remember how laser focused I was on it. Day in, day out – 5:45am wake up call, 2 hour workout – 15 hour working day, eating from tubs 6 times a day – taking in less calories than a 12 year old girl would eat to sustain their weight.
But what was the alternative?
Quit, and screw up 3-4 months of consistent hard work and sacrifice. NO WAY.
I often cried when I looked in the mirror.
Nothing was changing.
Or it wasn’t changing fast enough.
I was exhausted yet not sleeping.
Hungry yet didn’t feel like eating.
I had no energy to cook, and my culinary creativity went out the window.
I became moody, snappy and moaned all the time.
And all of this because I thought if ONLY I could drop my body fat percentage – THEN I would be happy.
The cure came in the form of 3 weeks touring Southern California.
It was almost instantaneous.
I ate ALL of the food, and American food is insanely good.
I exercised a little, walked a lot, laughed a lot, drank a lot, spent time with friends,
Swam in the sea, went to Hollywood, got tattooed…the list is endless
That trip saved my life.
And guess what? I came back LIGHTER and SLIMMER than I was before I went (after 4 months of ‘graft’).
I was happier than I can ever remember being in YEARS.
So now that I’ve rattled on for ages, here’s what I’m trying to get across to you…
I’m certainly NOT saying that aiming for an obscenely low body fat percentage ISN’T going to make you happy. If that is your goal, and that is your kind of ‘healthy’ – then I admire you. I truly truly admire you. To create and sustain an unnatural level of body fat as a female is a full time vocation which requires dedication and sacrifice, and if that is making you happy & feel healthy – then you have found the answer to intrinsic happiness.
What I AM saying is this…
Before you embark on ANY sort of journey whether that be to lose weight, tone up, get stronger, be able to see your abs, run a marathon for charity – WHATEVER.
Do. It. For. YOU.
Do it for you.
Do it for you.
There are FAR too many girls out there in the world eating and exercising for Instagram ‘likes’.
Far too many women on extreme diets because they think it might make their husband love them more, or improve their sex lives. Or even SAVE their relationship from ruin.
Far too many young girls on low carb diets because #lowcarbsformarbs
I know this,
because I speak to these women every single day.
Miserable because the goals they have been setting themselves have been so focused on other people’s opinions – that they have forgotten what it is that they truly want.
I’d would ask you to consider the answer to this question:
What does it mean to you to be healthy and happy?
What does it mean TO YOU?
(Not anybody else).
When you know the answer to that question,
then you can think about how to get there.
And if that’s to walk around completely shredded – going against your genetics and working HARD – then go and DO IT.
If that’s to eat foods you love all the time and walk every day for an hour – DO IT.
If that’s to ‘eat clean’ and ‘train mean’ – DO IT.
But DO IT FOR YOU.
Because what happens with the Instagram likes die off? What happens when you get to your ‘happy place’ and your husband / partner STILL doesn’t notice you?
I’ll tell you what happens.
A huge chunk of your life has just passed you by whilst you’ve been trying to make OTHER PEOPLE LIKE YOU MORE.
You don’t need validation from other people, girl.
You need to do what makes you happy.
From the inside out.
Because I said so. Haha just kidding,
because happiness is an inside job.
Now go get it.
Some random shots from the trip that saved my life and led to true happiness…