We live in a world overrun with time-sensitive goals, and that includes health goals. As a business owner and leader, I have a love/hate relationship with this basic truth. In some ways, the deadlines, visions, and commitments we have all set in motion help us keep “winning” in this game called life. Many of the provisional goals and dreams I have set for myself have also allowed me to make really exciting changes in my professional life and career.
But the downside is that our society has created this competitive atmosphere in which everyone who is driven by these ambitions feels they have to prove their “worth” (to people who probably don’t even support them anyway) by a certain date with a certain expected metric in mind.
It’s straight-up exhausting.
We see this ALL the time in the fitness and health community. The inches lost, the pounds gained or lost, the aspirational size achieved.
These metrics end up being the whole damn goal, rather than focusing on what we’ve achieved in pursuit of that goal.
My issue with this is: What if you don’t hit the goal? Or can’t? What if that metric is just not achievable with your body type, blood type, personality type or timeline? What if we are all so blinded by the process of hitting some crazy end goal that we can’t even take note of the small (but mighty) internal changes we’ve made along the way?
Like so many, I entered this world of fitness without even knowing it would captivate me in life-changing ways. When I found Pilates, I was newly a mom, oh-so-tired, and had just gone back to work full time. I had a not-so-sexy new C-section scar, a loose, icky core, tired eyes and endless pairs of (old) skinny jeans that made me furious to look at. I entered this fitness world with one single set of performance metrics in mind:
I was going to lose those last 15 pounds in three dedicated months and finally get back to my “old” size.
I was ready.
I was going to commit myself to 90 days of strength and cardio training and a clean, organic, zero-carb diet.
I envisioned how I was going to reclaim my former glory and “the old me” in size, measurements, energy level, and weight. I envisioned how others would view my success. Truthfully, this crazy vision drove me to my first Pilates class.
With my totally superficial Key Performance Metrics (KPIs) in mind, I began my journey toward my “perfect health goals.” Achieving these body-centric KPIs meant one thing to me: Was I going to be successful or unsuccessful?
I went to my first Pilates class in St. Louis on a Thursday night. For four days straight afterward, my core was in amazing agony and glorious pain. I went back the next Thursday. Same scenario. Have you ever been so sore it hurts to laugh? When the third week came, I went to class almost every single day. I was feeling muscles in so many new places, and my energy level was increasing with each class.
I did a full 90 days of Pilates with a personalized Pilates trainer and (of course) a commitment to boasting on social media to hold me accountable.
I felt stronger and longer. I had more energy and felt more active. I was excited each day to hit the mat. But, day after day, I didn’t lose any weight.
Zero size changes. Zero old-skinny-Jean moments. I had actually gained weight! What was going on??
Around day 50, I broke down and cried to my husband. “Why isn’t this working?” I bawled. “I’m eating strict pre-planned meals, I’m working out daily with both a cardio plan and daily Pilates strength training, but my size isn’t budging!”
He asked two simple questions:
1. Do you feel better?
2. Are you happier?
The answers were simple, too. Yes, yes, and yes again.
My body was finally being pushed the way our bodies want to be pushed. I was experiencing levels of stability and flexibility and strength I had never before experienced.
I was gaining muscle. I was gaining tone. I was gaining some real strength!
I kept going.
Around day 75, I started to relax my KPI expectations. I began to enjoy the nutritional foods I was making and craved more plant-focused recipes. I added healthy carbs back into my life. I began to crave my gym time because it made me mentally happy. Quite simply, I started to enjoy the journey because some legit endorphins were truly guiding me.
Instead of weighing myself daily and trying on those stupid skinny jeans each morning, I tossed out the scale and started journaling. I started guiding my day with gratitude. I focused on being healthy for my son, my husband, my family and the long-term version of me.
Somewhere in the process, I stopped thinking that my “success” was tied a mental vision of how I wanted my body to look.
And I started to visualize that feeling this healthy could be a part of my life forever.
My new holy grail?
Exercising and eating a balanced diet.
By day 90, I had muscle strength and endurance that I’d never had before. In my journey to meet this expectation I’d set for myself, I ended up with a newly toned figure, sans any significant weight loss, and a totally focused mental confidence I can’t begin to express in this post.
But, truly, the most significant thing that happened to me in my 90-day health journey was that I shed the perceived need for “skinny metrics” once and for all. I refuse to use weight as a way to define me or, for that matter, any other fantastic women in my life.
Here’s the scoop, ladies:
It is our serious DUTY to take care of the one and only body we were given. If you want a long, happy and super balanced life, and you are physically able, I feel it is our universal responsibility to consistently eat nutrient-dense foods, drink all the water and physically challenge our bodies multiple times a week, 52 weeks a year.
This isn’t about a metric that shows off your success in your world. It’s not a number, or stat, or measurement that proves you’re winning at life.
Your outlook on life, your relationships, your happiness and your daily energy levels are a much better way to chalk up any earned “success” points.
Never diminish the fact that you’re working inside the journey. Small steps are big steps. The evolving process is hands-down the best part! Winning with health goals is when you stop to realize you’re living the exact life you used to only dream that you could live.