Goal Weight & Deferring Happiness
I’ve been around 'Fitness Instagram' since 2014...minus that combined one-year hiatus in 2016 and most of 2017... but I still lurked during that year. And what I saw, and continue to see, is a reflection of my own story.
The women I started this journey on four years ago... those hundreds of women, in similar shoes as mine - ASICS they were at the time - we all sang the same song. It went something like, “once I reach my GOOOOOOOALLLLL WEIGHT, I’ll be HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!!!”…
And then many of us did. Reached our goal weight that is.
But then we looked around and realized that our Goal Weight didn’t look like HER goal weight.
Internal narrative: "Hum… she hit her goal weight and got a six pack? And I’m not nearly as defined. Wait… she hit her Goal Weight and got a huge Instagram following, clearly my Goal Weight isn’t good enough. I need to do more! I need to meal prep harder, I need to stop being lazy and do my morning workouts earlier, I need to do things to drop my body fat % to match HERS….
My goal weight isn’t low enough
I’m not trying hard enough.
I’m not good enough...."
And even in that hollow isolation in your bathroom, without peering eyes, staring down at your scale and you see it hit whatever that “number” was…
…that one you just made up in your mind
...and it's finally staring back at you,
…after the momentary excitement wears off, there is still that ache inside – because the weight is gone, but the pain and burdens of life are still heavy on your heart.
And the root of the problem(s) that you thought weight loss would solve still remain, sometimes even more exposed.
Internal narrative, “I thought that losing 40lbs would make me happier? Now I can fit into all those clothes I wanted to fit into, feel confident at the beach, people will like me more, they will want to know my secret……”
Steps out of the bathroom and logs into social media.
Internal narrative: "Hum….. her goal weight got more likes than mine…."
In both of these photos I believed that once I had achieved my “goal weight’ I would magically be given the key to permanent happiness. But even when I did achieve it, I moved the goal lower.
I decided the main program I had been following wasn’t giving me the results I needed. I added a second program. Then I added intermittent fasting. And then I was surfing the black hole of the internet in the middle of the night trying to find tips on how to fast longer….
Near the end of 2016 a series of events led me to suddenly close the book on fitness and my "weight loss" journey.
And just like that, I shut the light off, closed the door, and walked away.
And gained weight.
At first there was a lot of shame attached to my new “size”. Mostly internalized shame. Because everyone around me told me I finally looked “healthy”. But to me, initially, it felt like failure. So I gave all in. Like the extremist I am. And I gained 30lbs in rapid time.
It was probably the best thing that I’ve done. But hold on to your hats while I explain. Because it’s not the reason you think it is....
I was finally able to see, from this new vantage point, that I had been lying to myself for years.
Since I was a teen I defined myself, my worth, my value, based on my body and my appearance. I attached my happiness to it, and eventually I made it the focal point of all my daily activities.
It wasn’t until I had achieved everything I wanted to achieve that I realized that all of these years I had been deferring my own happiness.
In 2002 I was sitting in my bachelor apartment in uptown Toronto reading Everyday Grace by Marianne Williamson - a book I would soon credit with one of my first mental transformations. In it she writes,
“We need not wait for the world to become more mystical; the world is mystical. Our problem is not that the world lacks magic; our problem is that we don’t believe in its magic… I’ve seen so many people auditioning life, waiting for the right relationship, or the right job, or the right house, before deciding to live life to its fullest. People say, “When I’ve met the right person, I will show up fully in a relationship… When I have the right job, I’ll throw myself 100% into it… When I’ve lost the weight, I will try to look great…”
This deferral of happiness is rampant in our online fitness communities and in the women (and men) in our lives. We are continually fed a narrative that says, goal weight = happiness.
Marianne continues by saying, “The time to show up fully for life is right now, whatever the circumstances.” … meaning, at whatever weight you are right now is where you need to be OK.
If my story (and the stories of hundreds of women I have talked to over the years) is any example, here is my message: Be your divine self now, see your radiance; be the one who allows acceptance to flow into your life, into your body, into your practice….
Release the chains that you have imposed on yourself. Release the bonds that you have clenched over your body. If you have made a choice to change your appearance, do it from a place of radiant, divine, acceptance with full knowledge that you are allowed to be OK now.