MMP: Acceptance Comes Before Change

by Rebecca A. Watson on June 2, 2014

in 30 day challenge, Monday Morning Pages

Back in 2009, I was in really good shape. I’d been hitting the gym for a few years and then started using the outdoors as my own personal trainer. I was pretty stoked on how I looked.

Around Christmas of that year, I got hit by a car while riding my bike. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt badly, but it did stop me from working out the way I once had. For a few years. And it did a number on my mental health because of it.

It took several years, (four?!?) but I’m in better shape now then I was then. And it occurred to me that the reason for me getting hurt in the first place was so that I could learn something. I mean, isn’t that usually the reason things happen?

I’d always worked out because I wanted to look good. A friend who was into being active spent an hour with me at the gym once to show me her routines, and she asked, “Do you have any fitness goals?”

I’m sure she was expecting something like, “Run 5k in 30 minutes,” or “Lift X amount of weight by Thanksgiving.” Not what I had in mind.

“Look good naked,” was what came out of my mouth. She laughed and shook her head.

athena halloween

Ahhhh, vanity.

In the few years that I couldn’t work out the way I used to, I discovered yoga, which is all about loving your body and acceptance day-to-day. You don’t even compete with yourself.

While my body got softer, I wanted to be mean to myself. I longed to whip myself back into shape (really?!? Whip?), and my injury didn’t allow for that. But yoga was making it easier for me to love myself as I was.

This, of course, didn’t dawn on me until 2013. I realized I needed to stop working out the way I was (comparing myself to pop stars, pushing for longer and more difficult challenges without improving the form I had initially, telling myself I looked fat because I missed ONE DAY on my schedule) in order to understand why I worked out in the first place.

All of this came up when I read something from my journal in 2012:

I feel like it’s important to better yourself and work toward being more altruistic and everything, BUT I feel like accepting yourself is really the first step toward it. I mean, how do you know what to work on and what to celebrate if you don’t have a baseline? It’s true. It’s like the 1st step: Admitting you have a problem. And be OK that that is who you are. At this moment I accept myself exactly as I am.

Why did I work out before? To look good to myself. It was all about me.

Why do I work out now? Well, a lot of it is still about me, but it also affects other folks too: improved mental health, longer life, ability to do more/hike farther/etc. I also want to be inspiring to others. I see women running all the time and I silently cheer them on. It means there are more of us practicing self-care, something that does make the world a better place.

Don’t get me wrong. I also like the way I look when I’m active. No doubt about that. But it’s not the first thing on my list. In fact, when I’m pumping myself up to run, it’s more about how I’ll feel after than how I might look.

Today I read something in my daily affirmations book that also struck me, and I think is along the same vein:

ego death

For awhile now, and especially since I started being nicer to myself and accepting me as me, just as I am now, I have noticed that my choices to improve myself don’t come from this I-must-be-better place.

For a long time I felt like I was in some perpetual boot camp where as soon as I would make one new great habit, I’d find something else I didn’t like that needed to be changed. Now. I remember telling a friend that I loved self-improvement but sometimes I just found it exhausting.

When I stopped drinking, my inner critic wasn’t giving me props for that. Nope. It was telling me to cut back on my meat intake. As if my evolution was just a checklist that had nothing to do with how I felt.

Now things are a little different. I looked at my goal for June (to wake up at 5:30) and realized there wasn’t any reason to get so extreme. What would that prove? I’m the one who has to live with it, and if I can’t how can I help anyone else? (6 a.m. That’s more my speed.)

And then I realized, oh yeah! That’s my frickin’ mission statement: Help people through my writing. If I’m too busy treating myself like a machine that can just upgrade software without any downtime, I’m not only making it harder for me to create real change, but also more difficult for me to live my life authentically and encourage other people to do the same.

Aha moment!

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Drunky Drunk Girl June 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm

GREAT post! I learned so much, and can identify with so much of what you write here. Thanks for this… (and, I hope to comment more–I love your comments to my blog, btw) -DDG


Rebecca A. Watson June 10, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for stopping by lady! I am thrilled to hear from you and glad my post resonated 🙂 Gotta head over to your blog now … saw you had a new post. YES!


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