I have an invitation for you. This invitation is also a challenge.
A Body Positive Challenge that all started recently with one of my many experiments. I have always loved to experiment with my lifestyle. I am a sucker for efficiency and systems, a love no doubt instilled in me from my parents who are both environmental scientists. Don’t get me wrong, they still look at me like I am from another planet entirely.
So one day when my boyfriend made a particularly hilarious observation about me, I came to believe that the key to making any kind of change in my lifestyle could be found in the trusted hands of science. That’s right, I am about to blow your mind with science…at least I hope.
We know that Newton has fancy laws of motion, specifically the last one, the law of inertia! This law states that an object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force.
My boyfriend jokingly proposed a scientific analogy that made ME the subject of this law.
“A Katie in motion stays in motion. A Katie at rest will stay at rest, unless an outside force intervenes.”
While this is definitely not what Newton had in mind, this resonated with me in a profound way because he was absolutely right! Why is it that when I am in motion, when I have momentum, it feels like I can do anything? However, the second I lose steam it is as if the wind has been taken out of my sails and everything comes to an “all stop.” Without momentum it feels like I can barely balance one or two of my values at a time. If I wanted to power towards my goals and values, I needed to find the outside force that was going to intervene
Let me pause briefly to say that I am definitely not the first person to have this revelation. Following a structured workout plan or overhauling your eating habits with a specialized diet or cleanse is so common that most people have tried several different “miracle” programs in their lifetime. How many can you list off the top of your head? The 21 Day Fix, The Whole 30, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Insanity, P90X, Cross Fit and the list goes on and on. These programs all illustrate ways to kick-start your motivation and change your lifestyle by following their plan. That sounds an awful lot like an outside force intervening in the inertia of your life!
So you caught me, I am clearly not the first person to have this epiphany. Does it work? While some people have a lot of success, the overwhelming majority of people who try these programs quit, relapse into their old habits or simply cannot afford to do it for life. Some people end up abandoning their diet because they dislike the way it makes them feel about their bodies. A LOT of people talk to me about this predicament, especially people who are trying to embrace body positivity into their life. ABC News reports that the diet industry is worth over $20 BILLION dollars. For that kind of money somebody should be seeing some results. So why can’t I stick to P90X, the 30-Day Navy Seal Workout or my close attempt at clean eating?
Because they are based on someone else’s values.
This is the important part. Someone else sat down and created a plan to jump-start their lifestyles goals and they did it by taking into account their own personal values. I am one hundred percent sure that each one of these diet and exercise regiments worked for at least one person, the person who created them. They don’t necessarily work for you because they have nothing to do with you. Lifestyle habits are definitely not “one size fits all.” How could we expect a program to magically fit our needs like a glove? Your life, your values and your goals were not involved in the making of any lifestyle program – until now!
I want to invite you to investigate and discover what your lifestyle values really are.
What exactly do I mean when I say “values?” I am talking about the things in this life that you value the most. If you had to make a MySpace Top 8 list of what you personally value most in life, what would that list look like? Only once you establish a clear and concise list of what your core values are can you begin to play my game of Extreme Makeover: Lifestyle Addition.
I challenge you to start living every day in practice of your own personal values.
I once met a young woman who told me that she was a vegan, but several times a year she’d have a huge craving and binge on a burger and a basket of chicken fingers and subsequently be sick for several days after. I asked her why she decided to change her life to become a vegan and she gave me a few vague reasons behind her choice. But she never once said: “I don’t believe in eating animal products” or “I don’t like what eating a non-vegan diet does to my body and how I feel.” I would venture to say that if being a vegan was deeply rooted in her personal values then she would not have a wicked round of food poisoning six times a year.
I had a similar experience with dairy products. I would always suffer from a horrible stomach episode after indulging in a bowl of ice cream or a plate of fettuccine alfredo, but I wouldn’t give it up on principle. This went on for years until one day, during a particularly bad round of stomach pain, I looked at the Ben & Jerry’s container and thought: “I don’t deserve this. I don’t care how good you taste, I deserve to feel good all the time.”
You deserve to feel good all the time.
This is one of my values and it is right up there at the top. Despite what our very opinionated egos have decided that we should or should not do, our values are the clearest path to a better lifestyle. Just follow that list of values like a road map. You will be surprised where it might lead. I don’t really eat dairy anymore and it is not because I gave in and started hating myself. Hating my body is definitely NOT within my values. I love my body so much that I decided it deserved to feel good all the time.
Above all things I am dedicated to using my body positive values to genuinely love myself and my life. Take a look at your values. Does anything surprise you? Is your family at the top of your list and yet you have not called your mother in a few weeks? If you are struggling to find out what is missing in your life, this is a fantastic way to make discoveries. How many things do you accomplish in a day that are in support of your values?
Most of the people that I talk to list health and happiness as their top priorities and then lament about how they hate, or have too little time to exercise or to dedicate to self-care. Your health and happiness values can fly under the radar and are easily pushed aside because they don’t seem mandatory or dire. Until…. well until they BECOME critical and dire. I’m not trying to be cryptic; I know you understand what I am talking about. After all, YOU did put them at the top of the list.
The key to designing a lifestyle program that you can’t wait to start is to do it with the intention of creating a life that you cannot wait to start living. In order to do this I sat down and had a long talk with myself, and my partner. about our values and applied that to our lifestyle. We tried to find a fun and inspiring way to implement these changes. Of course this turned into the invention of a game! I am incredibly competitive (I get this from my family too!) so I immediately went to work creating a list and a point system.
In a nut shell we get points for every time we eat a meal by our values, get active, workout or win the daily step challenge with our Fitbits! I have made a lifestyle program based on our values, and it is honestly the easiest program to follow because it is mine. It was created for me, by me, with my values at the forefront of every activity. It is hilarious, fun, motivating and it could not feel more body positive. The competitor in me would also like you to know that I am kicking my partner’s butt! But that’s beside the point. I feel the blessed autonomy of making these decisions based on my happiness and not because of shame. I would love for you to play along with me by creating a game of your very own.
Lifestyle changes get a bad wrap because we lump them in with a bunch of things that are definitely NOT body positive. I do not think they deserve to be in that category! It sucks to feel like you are living your whole life under a heavy load of self-deprecation. It is a joy to live every day in salute to what you truly value in your life. Nobody can tell you what you do and do not value in your life. If you want to change your habits, do it without assuming shame or guilt. Liberate yourself to find things that you do enjoy, and don’t be blinded by the things that you hate. For those who fear reverting to comfort or laziness, your values will provide you with a very sturdy yardstick to assess your new plans – but only if you keep quiet and listen to them.
A lifestyle lead by your core values can also open up the pearly white gates of self-acceptance and love. Personally, this is what happened when I discovered the body positive community. My infatuation with this beautiful lifestyle began when I discovered, to my shock and awe, that I was not the ONLY person who refused to hate their body! FAR from it! There is a whole community of glorious people out there, who are all out there preaching the same thing. What I am is a voice, one of many, shouting from the rooftops. So are you craving a change or in need of some momentum? Let’s play a game together! I’ll let you make the rules, but the catch is, you have to follow them.