Most of us who are looking to lose weight or live healthier lives are doing so because we are unhappy with an aspect of who we are. We think we’ll finally be happy with ourselves when we can fit into a size six. We think that the little voice in the back of our head reminding us that we aren’t good enough will go away if we make it to Soul Cycle four days a week. But the truth is, as soon as we fit into that size four we start thinking we should really be wearing a size four. As long as you’re striving for some kind of idealized perfection, nothing will ever be good enough. The first step toward happiness is acceptance. But acceptance doesn’t mean you can’t improve.
By far, the biggest factor determining our weight is genetics. It’s also the biggest factor in determining our health, happiness, intelligence, work ethic and even our sense of humor and political ideology. The truth is we come 90% assembled right out of the box. Most of who and what we are is hard wired into us. Sure, we have control over our lives, but we have to accept the truth of who we are to begin with. From there we can look to make positive changes.
When I started my weight loss journey I took up running because I thought that it was what fit people did. For a few years, I ran miles and miles every day. And I hated every single second of it. I read about the runner’s high and was baffled that anyone could experience anything but agonizing pain and misery while on a treadmill. One day I finally had enough. I quit running altogether, breathing out with the relief of accepting that, hey, I just wasn’t a runner.
Some of us aren’t meant to be runners. We can try—of course we can try—it just might never feel natural. Instead, maybe we’re power walkers (raising my hand high).
Some of us have a tricky time practicing moderation. We’re more the all-or-none type. And for us, simply abstaining is easier than having a sliver of cake.
Many of us can’t maintain 15% body fat, like the models we see. It just isn’t a realistic goal given who we are.
Still, we can always strive to do better—to be the best we can be, and to find the things that allow us to feel aligned, more energized, and a little more content. By knowing who you are, you can recognize your strengths, observe your weaknesses, and work from there. You’ll be a better you every day.