I wanted to share (with permission) an email I sent to a long time client of mine. She is dealing with an injury and has been out of the gym for a while now. She is really struggling with not being able to exercise and is terrified of how her food choices will affect how she looks while she’s injured. This girl is me two years ago. I wanted to share this because I think we all need a few reminders sometimes about what’s truly important, what’s not all that important.
Coincidentally, this email is somewhat of a follow-up to my last post on instant gratification. When we turn to cleanses, detoxes and supplements and supplements for fat loss, we’re fooling ourselves. Again, I’ve been there! There are no short cuts when it comes to long lasting results. These tactics are nothing but a short term solution that just keep us stuck and wondering what happened months after we stop the strict eating regimen and stop having shakes and pills for meals.
I hope this email is helpful for some of you who are struggling. I know this is what I needed to read way back when. If you do struggle with body image and food issues, you’re not alone. It’s insanely common to feel the pressure to look a certain way.
The advice below is not “hardcore” and for some, that’s a turn off. This stuff might not hit home now but at some point I’m hoping all of this will become crystal clear 🙂
Here is what I want to tell you.
First, you are not your body. You are so so so so so much more.
You’re an amazing, supportive and loving fiancé, friend, sister and daughter. You are so kind, funny, thoughtful, caring, intelligent, and strong. I’m missing a bunch there but you get the idea. I mean… you even have someone who asked you to spend the rest of your life with him and I’d be willing to bet everything that it has nothing to do with your body. You are loved by everyone because of who you are at your core, not because you weigh a certain amount or workout a particular number of times every week or because you’re the hardest worker in the gym. People in our world don’t even care about those things. They care about who you are.
You need to give yourself time to heal. In the long run this injury is setting you back months. Not years, not forever. You won’t even remember this in five years…you won’t even remember this next year as you get closer to your wedding. Remember that nothing is irreversible. There’s nothing that can’t be undone. Any strength lost, you’ll regain. And muscle lost, you’ll build back up again. What you really need to work on, I think, is letting go of the emotional attachment to food. I have been exactly where you are turning inward was the only thing that actually worked.
The mindset shift that I adopted which was a huge change is having an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. What I mean by that is, instead of thinking “I really shouldn’t eat this candy because I can’t workout…I better eat it all and get it over with” you think “Ok I can have this candy whenever I want it so I can have a handful now, finish that, then if I want more I can get more” because in the grand scheme of things, a handful or two of candy isn’t going to impact your physique whatsoever. The only way it will is if you’re bingeing daily. And honestly, at the beginning you might over eat a bunch of times. And it’s scary as hell because you feel out of control but it just takes practice. Constantly remind yourself that nothing is off limits because you can have any food at any time. You can have treats because you enjoy them and food is meant to be enjoyed. When I’m going for my daily candy, I even ask myself out loud sometimes “do I actually want this?” while I’m standing at my open cabinet and a lot of times the answer is no. If in an hour I find myself back there, I grab a couple pieces just because. This helps reinforce that I can have it whenever I want and that there’s always more where that came from.
Here’s another thing. Working out doesn’t change your weight/body fat percetage that much. Exercise shapes what your body looks like but has very little to do with our body composition. Think about a bodybuilder…they want to get as lean as possible before going on stage, right? While exercise certainly plays a huge part in the process, bodybuilders manipulate their food intake until they reach their desired look. Their cardio might increase towards the end of their prep but the difficulty of their workouts actually decrease because they don’t have enough fuel for the hardcore workouts anymore. If exercise made that much difference their food intake wouldn’t be cut way down and exercise would be increased significantly. All that to say, nutrition is king when it comes to body comp, not exercise. I know it’s stressful not being able to exercise but as far as your physique is concerned, you could maintain most of your muscle by just eating the right foods and enough of them.
So do you need to spend hundreds on supplements just because you’re injured? You know my answer to this but I don’t blame you for buying in because it seems like a good idea, especially if you’re afraid of gaining weight, but let me just going to throw this in here… Those supplements will not do any of those things (speed up your metabolism, burn fat, etc). We’d be the thinnest and healthiest nation in the world if all it took was a supplement to do those things! But last I checked, we’re the opposite of that. The cleanse is kind of just a glorified (and expensive!) laxative and of course if it’s flushing out your system you’re going to lose weight….I wonder how many calories you burn running to and from the bathroom But in all seriousness, remember, that’s not real fat loss… it’s water weight. If after the cleanse portion you comply to the diet plan, then sure, you’d most likely lose some weight and/or body fat. BUT that would be due to sticking to the meal plan and portion sizes, not the supplements. And again, I’ve said this a number of times, you need to ask yourself if you could eat this way for the rest of your life to maintain your results…but I think you’ve answered that already.
No judgement whatsoever if you choose to say on the supps or not because we need to have our own experiences with this stuff and learn what really works for us. However, I would challenge you to see what happens without them. I would challenge you to see what happens when you start slowing down, lowering stress and tuning into your body. Working on mindset stuff probably doesn’t sound ast as captivating as a quick-fix challenge promising fast results, but doing this work is a life-changing practice. I’m living proof that working on the inside first works so anyone who says it doesn’t just hasn’t devoted the time to it or hasn’t dug in deep enough. It takes time, it takes practice and it can be scary! I still have moments where I slip up but having the tools and having practice turning that around is so much more comforting than relying on external sources to get me “on track” again.
In the end, I want you to learn to move because you love your body and you want to take care of it. I want you to be able to stop focusing on changing it and manipulating it to look a certain way. This is your reset. Honor what your body is asking for and give it a break! Let yourself rest and heal. You have the rest of your life for vigorous workouts. Take a chill pill just for now .