A Journey towards Self Acceptance in the Fitness Space

Updated: Feb 25, 2020


Self acceptance: unconditional acceptance of you as you are in each and every moment. It's something we don't talk about enough in the realm of physical fitness. In the wellness world, all this talk of 'self loOoOooOve' gets thrown around. Why is this problematic? Love is one of the most complex emotions we experience, and it means different things to different people. On top of that, love will not always be unconditional when our fitness journey begins. Yes, we can learn to unconditionally love ourselves in all our forms. But the first step to LOVING ourselves is ACCEPTANCE. You cannot have love without acceptance. We must first accept all of ourselves in this present moment before we take steps towards self-improvement and self love.


Growing up, my worth was based only on the number of goals I scored, the amount of successful plays I orchestrated, and the number of wins our team had. I only accepted myself as a great soccer player if I met external markers. Most of which were rooted in competition with others. Was I the fastest, most technical, strongest player? These were questions I asked myself every single day, and it ate at my self esteem.


When I first started college, and began on my solo fitness journey on top of playing soccer, my sources of acceptance shifted. BUT they were still based on external validation and comparisons with an added factor of appearance. It took an extreme toll on my mental and physical health, as I went to extremes to stay "healthy." In reality, I was severely undernourishing and overworking myself. Nothing was ever good enough, and I was always chasing more thinking that once I reached a certain 'look' I would be happy. Not the case. Luckily, I found tools like podcasts, journaling, meditation, and surrounding myself with friends who EMPOWER and SUPPORT me.


In a conversation between Oprah and Eckhart Tolle, Eckhart says "The very basis for everything is to come to an acceptance of this moment as it is, so that there is no neediness for the things we want to manifest. If we are not friendly with this present moment, we are not friendly with life." I cannot preach this enough. That does not mean that you accept the lifestyle that is not honoring your mental+emotional+physical health, and leave it at that. Acceptance is not giving up. It's merely the first step on the journey to take action. When we address and accept ALL of it-- the good, the bad and the ugly--we begin.


1. What does your self talk sound like? Remember, judgements you have--both on yourself and others-- are just conditioned ideas that were placed onto us from EXTERNAL sources. You weren't born with negative thought patterns.

2. Accept that those thought patterns are there, and that you yourSELF are merely an observer of them.

3. Accept that your capacity for growth is right in front of you, and that you hold the keys to unlocking your highest potential.


Now what the hell does all this mindset mumbo jumbo specifically have to do with fitness, Adrianna?




For starters... Positive change happens from a place of acceptance rather than resistance. And with each change made, we love to see and document our progress to write a story for our journey. You can continue to track your progress when you see it. You can take progress/transformation photos, and strive for PR's. It is extremely motivational.


BUT...


We may feel discouraged when we don't see continual progress. And I will let you in on a little secret: You're not going to see progress every day. There are so many factors that contribute to this, so...

We cannot solely place our gratification in 'progress.' Instead of cursing your body's form or spiraling into negative self talk because you didn't hit a PR or over-ate one night, just accept the present for what it is. And move forward by taking positive action, every single day. Leave behind the expectations of where your progress should be because...


Progress is not linear.


Our bodies are ever changing each day, even for those like myself who have been doing this for years. We cannot let our motivation rest solely on physical progress markers. If you are doing the work, trust in the fact that change within your body IS happening regardless of whether your measurements or your performance reflect it.


We would never be happy with our progress if our only satisfaction came from external appearances or PR's. Because true satisfaction does not come from form, but is rather created internally. If we are solely looking for outside validation as our source of happiness, we would constantly thirst for more. Putting quality into our bodies, and moving everyday is the highest form of self respect we can practice. Enjoy the PROCESS through a lens of acceptance.


I remind every single one of my clients of this... a lack of self acceptance will hinder your ability to embark and stay on this fitness journey. Without it, you cannot exercise from a mentally and emotionally sustainable place.



So what can we do to mitigate all of those things working against our self acceptance?


1. DO NOT FOLLOW A REGIME THAT MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE FAILING

We are not perfect, so allowing a program to make you feel like your lifestyle/body is wrong, and making you feel punished for not meeting certain markers can be detrimental to your journey. Find a regime that celebrates your body, and makes you feel alive because you are MOVING. Something you genuinely enjoy doing regularly. A good workout honors your living, breathing body and everything it's capable of. It is NOT an hour of punishment for what you ate last night.


2. STOP COMPARING. Remember that old saying "comparison is the thief of joy"? Keep that in mind when you start comparing your journey to someone else's. We are all on different pages, chapters, hell even in different books of life. Unfollow anyone on social media who makes you feel as if you are not enough in this present moment, even if their doing so is unintentional.


3. Meditate. Come back to the present moment. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, recognize them. Welcome them. Let those feelings pass. If negative self talk continues, recognize that you are an observer of that little voice that is judging and criticizing you. You are not those negative thoughts. Deep breaths.


3. Listen to a good podcast that educates you, makes you critically think, feel all the feels, and feel empowered. A few of my favorites are Oprah's Supersoul Conversations, "hey, girl", The Food Medic Podcast, and the Aubrey Marcus Podcast.


4. TALK IT OUT. If continual self work still doesn't lead to a sense of self acceptance, it would be wise to talk to a professional to figure out where your lack of self acceptance and self worth stem from. Once you have tackled whatever is holding you back, continue to do the self work because you, my friend, are so worth it.


To accept ourselves, we must also accept that we are never "finished." There is no destination we are trying to reach because we are always becoming.


Repeat after me, "I cannot love what I cannot accept."

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