I have always been extremely competitive - even when it doesn’t really make sense. For example, I like to compare my fitness level to my very-naturally athletic, and tall fiancee. While I am fairly athletic myself, I have much shorter legs and a less-fit body, making the comparison between him and me unfair. Yet I still am so hard on myself when he runs faster or can go further. It really did not make sense to judge myself based on his accomplishments but I did so readily.
Unfortunately, this made our workouts together rather hard. I was always pushing myself to the extreme to keep up when I was not in the shape to do so. Honestly, I was lucky I did not end up with an injury. It was hard for me to watch as he bounded ahead of me with ease and energy, whereas I was huffing with every step. Did I care that he had longer legs, and therefore had a longer stride? Did I care that he was a natural runner? Nope. All that crossed my mind was how I ran more often than him but that he could still outrun me, and I was filled with negativity.
One day as I watched him gracefully and handsomely bound ahead, I had a huge realization. The thought hit me like a truck. Here I was promoting this business that encourages people, particularly women, to love themselves and to use workouts as a way to express that love, but I was not practicing it in my own routine. I thought I was practicing what I preached, but when I saw my adorable fiance out ahead of me, the real truth came bubbling to the surface. I was not exercising out of love. I slowed down because I was losing the imaginary race between me and my fiance, which showed me my thoughts were negative and ugly. I was not practicing the fundamentals of FemTribe, I was belittling myself.
For the rest of the run, every time I began to have a negative thought about myself, my running abilities, or how I should be better, I replaced it with the simple phrase “I run for me.” Trust me, I had to say it A LOT.
I run for me. Four little words that changed the rest of my work out. Four little words that changed how I saw myself. Four little words that worked.
The transformation was astounding. I was suddenly strong. I remembered that I loved to run. I breathed in the freedom that running allows. My stride suddenly grew, and my breathing was not as labored. Four little words gave me pride.
It was a complete 180 degree turn. I went from being discouraged, and wanting the run to end, to feeling empowered, feeling that I was healthy, and knowing that I was running FOR ME.
I could feel satisfaction in myself, without the need to beat my much taller running mate. I did not - and could not - catch up to my fiance, but I was happy and finally enjoying my run.
I was helping my body get stronger, and I was doing it at my own pace. It felt amazing.
I encourage everyone to repeat the phrase “I workout for me”. You do not work out because you dislike yourself, and you do not workout because your friend can run farther than you. You workout because it makes you happy, gives you energy, and is good for your body. You workout for YOU. It is as simple as that. It is tempting to feel discouraged when you see some hunk lifting 60 pounds when you’re struggling to lift your 8, but if you’re working out for you then your satisfaction could be even greater than his. You won’t feel the unrealistic pressure to be perfect, or to do something your body is not ready to do. Leave others out of the equation - work out for you. Besides, as my gal pal Mother Theresa said, “It was never between you and them anyway.”