Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fitness Manifesto for 2014

I remember the moment I started feeling fat. I was in fourth grade.

I was standing in the girls’ bathroom with two friends, when one asked me how much I weighed. I paused, considering my answer and wondering why she cared. Before that moment, I never worried about my weight, but suddenly, I felt self-conscious and wondered if I should lie. What was an acceptable weight for a girl my age? What would these girls think of my weight? Did they think I looked fat?

We didn’t have a scale at home—or if we did, I never saw my parents use it. But I must have visited the doctor recently, because I knew my weight. Cornered by my peers, I debated shaving a few pounds off my answer, but I worried they would see my deception in the soft tissue of my adolescent figure. I decided to answer honestly. After all, we were all about the same height and build—at least that’s how I saw us—so my answer wouldn’t shock them.

I was wrong. My friends looked at each other, smiled, and giggled a little. Then one said, “Wow! That’s a lot!” And that was the end of the conversation. I fell silent as I watched them dry their hands and leave the girls’ bathroom. Having no other option, I followed them back to class.

From that moment on, I believed I was overweight. True or not, it’s how I saw myself. Throughout my teenage years, I went through periods of food rationing. You could not have known this by looking at me. I did not look frighteningly thin. But in my mind, I was at war with myself: struggling with the desire to be thin but believing it was morally wrong to starve myself. Craving control over my body and hating it for betraying me.

This mental battle followed me into adulthood. Over the last ten years, my weight has fluctuated up and down. But surprisingly, being thinner has never improved my self-worth or self-confidence. At one point a couple of years ago, when I was training about two hours a day, I got down to 12.5% body fat. That’s low. Very low for a woman. (I’m nowhere near that now.) I bring it up, because even at 12.5% body fat, I looked in the mirror and found things to criticize. Being thin didn’t change how I felt inside.

Fitness and nutrition are important to me. I’ve made major changes to my diet and exercise in the last five years, and I’m proud of the improvements I’ve made. But this year, as I sat down to write my New Year’s resolutions, I decided it was time to reframe how I think about diet and exercise. Time to stop focusing on being thin and start focusing on fixing my thoughts.

Below is my personal Fitness Manifesto for 2014. It begins with the origins of self-worth: my Heavenly Father, the Creator of my body and spirit. It ends with my personal motivation for staying fit: to be a better servant of God. I pray that this new focus will help me overcome the self-doubt and self-criticism that have plagued me since fourth grade.

As you work toward your own fitness goals for 2014, I hope you will also remember that your body is a gift from God. You are His. He does not make mistakes. Love your body. Honor His gift. Teach your daughters to do the same.


If you would like a copy of my Fitness Manifesto, email me at rachel_l_gainer@yahoo.com.

1 comment:

  1. Oooooo I love it! Just what I need right now. I am with you friend, we've been given a gift with these bodies of ours, we just need to be reminded.

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