I used to work in an office where good work was rarely rewarded, but mistakes big or small were magnified and publicly shamed for everyone to see. Sometimes the shaming was subtle, and other times it was plain as day.
The office’s infamous “Bun Fund” was one example of the deeply rooted culture of shame and fear. The Bun Fund’s rule was simple: If you sent a client correspondence with any spelling or grammatical error in it, the perpetrator had to put money into the fund, which conveniently sat in front of the whole office. We’d later use that money to buy
alcohol bagels and drown eat our emotions.
Needless to say, staff members typically dreaded coming into work. It stifled creativity, killed motivation, and turned great employees against one another.
That’s the thing about shame. It wears us down, forces us to shrink away rather than grow from our mistakes, and it stifles our ability to do anything really well, be it in fitness, nutrition, work, or relationships.
Shame shrinks us, and yet we do it to ourselves by using words like “saddlebags”, “muffin top”, “spare tire”, “gross” or “disgusting” to describe our bodies.
I don’t know about you, but shaming my own body has never motivated me to go to the gym or stick to a routine.
Are You Body Shaming Yourself?
It’s okay to be unsatisfied with how you look. It’s alright to want to change your body and work towards improving yourself. But shaming yourself? Name calling? Using exercise as punishment?
That’s exactly the kind of behavior we must stop tolerating from ourselves. It kills motivation and progress. It’ll make you hate the process and prevent you from reaching your goals in a healthy and sustainable way. Self-imposed body shame will never make you feel more confident, even if you do lose the weight and achieve the body of your dreams.
Just imagine if your significant other or your best friend said these words to you: “Look at those saddle bags! Time to hit the gym!” or “Wow…you look gross. Want to go for a 10-mile run?”
Can you picture punching this person in the face? Because I sure can!
We can’t tolerate disrespect from ourselves if we claim to care and love others. Your capacity to love someone else, to show up for your spouse, kids, and friends is limited by how much love and grace you give to yourself.
Ditching negative talk and body shaming is a slow and grueling process, but it can be done. However, it starts with a choice.
You choose to treat yourself better or you berate yourself and get the same results.
The people that have made fitness and healthy eating a lifestyle aren’t special unicorns. They aren’t more disciplined than you. They simply decided that it was a lot easier to respect their bodies than it was to punish it. They found it more enjoyable to use exercise as a way to fuel their spirit. They sought out experts for their guidance and chose to learn more about how to train, how to eat better, how to feed their bodies so they can operate at the highest level.
That’s the mindset shift we all need to make at some point if we want to health an easy process and a natural part our lifestyle.
Start with your mind first, and change your internal script.