Working on my fitness, mental fitness that is.


Hey y’all,

Do you have a similar work-out rhythm to mine? I get excited, set a few goals and hit the gym to accomplish them. I mix it up so I don’t get bored, set mini-goals, and even take a day off if I’m tired. Things are going along smoothly and then one day – BOOM! I will get knocked off track.

Well, after years and years of reviewing this cycle, I have chalked my own BOOM up to a few specific insecurities:
(1) Wishing I weighed a little less (usually 5-15 pounds),
(2) Wishing I was more carefree and didn’t care about my weight/looks (contradictory much?),
(3) Wishing I was someone else.

There is nothing more liberating than admitting your insecurities to the entire world the people following your blog. Okay, so there are a lot more liberating actions to be taken in life. Yet, I often feel that if I would just get out of my own way, I could accomplish a lot more in life.

For instance, while it is true that I enjoy running for the solitude, the sweat, the cardio/resipratory health benefits, the connection to nature, the goal-setting, the accomplishments and achievements, etc., it is also true that I use running to balance out my enjoyment of rich foods, alcohol, and eating whatever I want. Well, not “whatever I want” – but I let myself indulge more than is probably healthy.

Yet, no matter how much I truly enjoy running and other physical activities, I still find myself wasting time worrying about my physical appearance. I chose my words carefully there, people, it is a huge time suck to do this! I am a healthy person, I choose organic and whole foods as often as possible. I exercise regularly and I reduce my stress in 101 different ways. Yet, as a part of contemporary image obsession, I am caught up in the flat tummy hype.

I feel there is no escaping this image burden, yet so few of us achieve the unrealistic images we hold so dear in our heads. And, thank goodness for that (see: Angelina Jolie at the Oscars, aka She-skeletor, aka Bobble Head megamama). I can recognize some sort of identity crisis when the eating disorder slaps me in the face and I do not want to see that in myself, ever.

So, as I strive to find more time for activities that bring me joy, that feed my spiritual soul, I am working to put more time and energy into those sources of energy, renewal and fuel. That means putting less time into sweating the food choices. Hopefully I will feel more secure, and more fulfilled, and still find my inner beauty shining through my physical representation.

As for #3 – wishing I were someone else. Well, let’s just face it. There will always be moments like that. Really, the best way to deal with that is to laugh (at myself, if possible). That’s where The Oatmeal comes in. Enjoy this comic strip of what we’re all thinking about each other when we’re at the gym…

At The Gym, by The Oatmeal



Filed under 5-100, Running

8 responses to “Working on my fitness, mental fitness that is.

  1. jenny

    Good comic strip! One year after having Shaelyn and I have been hitting the treadmill to lose these last couple of pounds and of course a few extra that have snuck up over winter. I know how you feel, if only results could be instant!

  2. We’re talking vanity pounds at this point…and I get it. I get that you don’t need to lose weight, and that nor do I, but that we both have those voices at times and that just HAVING that voice in our head is troublesome to us.

    I’m currently tabulating calories for the first time in…15 years. Yup. College. It’s in part to get a feel for how and what I eat vs what I think I eat. It’s gotten much easier over those 15 years because the information is no longer mostly catering to people who eat packaged items.

    At this point my schedule has ramped back up that I am actually at risk of underestimating how much I should be eating (which doesn’t make me thinner…it just makes me have blood-sugar crashes and then I make very poor choices about eating and eat crap when I’d be better off eating smaller, richer portions of unhealthy wonderful food for enjoyment and not because OMFG I COULD EAT EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW)…but I have always mentally struggled with issues of vanity pounds. I am always going to have a sweet, soft, tummy. I am not built not to have one. If I managed to lose it it would require other parts of my body to get worrisome looking.

    • Oh – of course you would not only understand this post, but have a perfect phrase for concisely conveying the idea – vanity pounds! That is exactly what it is.

      Like you mention, I have come to the point where I accept the general roundness of my body parts, and I am on board with loving myself…but it is completely vanity driving me to think about/struggle with the idea of the last 5-10 pounds. Of course, knowing that those pounds make a difference in how I feel physically and affect my energy level is a factor, but really it is vanity. Argh!

      Also, I get the blood sugar risk, too. It is difficult to manage an eating schedule with intense activity – especially what I read of the intense schedule you’ve been keeping!

      Glad to hear I’m not the only one troubled by that voice…

      • I am embarrassed to admit this…the term “vanity pounds” comes from my whole fascination with JIllian Michaels and is her term.

        And, yeah, I’m sure you also have the same other problem with the voice…the fact that we’re forward-thinking, feminist, women, who understand how the media is putting forward unrealistic ideals, who aesthetically enjoy women of various sizes and shapes and who generally feel ok about themselves…but we still have that head-voice.

  3. I’m doing my weekly (bi-weekly?) blog catch up. I think you look great. It’s funny how much harder we are on ourselves (a la the Oatmeal cartoon, funny because it’s true). I wrote a post last May when I was feeling pretty good about myself (but of course wanted to lose “just a little more”)…and not only have I failed at losing just a little more, but I’ve been steadily gaining ever since. Ugh. Internet brag curse.

    I’m angry at myself because back in May was the closest I have ever been to being at peace with my body image. And now I’m not. And Easter’s coming. Hold me.

  4. Jill W

    I see this theme hit a note with you, too.

    Yes, the “at peace” weight range. While it is the stuff that urban legends are made of, if you have spent a month or two at that elusive weight, it is something you don’t forget! How the clothes fit, how easy it was to laugh about the “old days” of when you weighed a few vanity pounds more. Then, two weekends of unmitigated Sicilian wine and you are back in vanity range.

    The best I can say to you, Tracy, is that you seem very slim to me and active and healthy, thus likely to stay slim into the funnel of your future. Plus, your mental fitness seems healthy, which for me is the bigger battle of the bulge.

    Damn my feminist roots and abysmal social media tempting me into prostitution for a happy ending (I watched a lot of Pretty Woman as a young teen).

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