Operation Skinny Jeans: Keeping up with the Joneses

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keeping up with the Joneses

We have all seen this message in one form or another.

Yet we continue to live our lives comparing ourselves to those around us. We all do it, I think it's human nature, but at what point does it become destructive? I think especially when we do it from behind a keyboard and compare our reality to someone's highlight reel (aka blog) it can really warp our sense of reality and our own personal accomplishment.

I wanted to lose weight before I decided to blog about it. I didn't know how, but I was going to try. I was going to eat better and workout and that would take me there. I would probably use Weight Watchers, because thats what everyone does, and I would probably take Zumba, because thats what is popular. In fact, for a while I was on the Weight Watchers/ Zumba plan, and it was great. It wasn't until I started blogging that I discovered what I should be doing.

I was never a runner. Until I started blogging, I never ran a mile. Until I started blogging, I hated running. But after following other women on this journey, I started to think "If I want to be successful, I have to start running..." Everyone (back then) was running. It was the thing to do. If you weren't running long races, you didn't fit in in "blogland" (at least thats what it felt like). I stopped listening to my body and started listening to strangers on the internet, and that was when things started to fall apart.

I ran my first mile in the summer of 2013. I was incredibly proud and I was pushed to do so by my desire to "fit in" with the other weight loss bloggers. I am thankful I was motivated by them to push myself further (which is a healthy type of competition) but what came after that was less positive. I became obsessed with becoming a "runner". I didn't even like running but I felt like I had to in order to be a part of the "fit crowd". I started C25K attempt #7/109 but instead of feeling proud when I pushed further than I had before, I felt ashamed and disappointed that I couldn't run as far or as fast as the people I was trying to keep up with. Instead of feeling accomplished, I felt destroyed. I thought maybe my goals weren't "big enough". Seen this one?

My goals scared me, but I still wasn't progressing as a runner as fast as I wanted to, so maybe they weren't big enough. Maybe I was failing at making the right kind of goals, and thats why I was failing at running. I think we all know what happened next.

I set myself up for certain failure by signing up for a half marathon when I couldn't even run a 5K. I couldn't run more than a mile, how was I going to run 13 of them in a row? But I kept repeating "If you goals don't scare you, they aren't big enough." because thats what the women I looked up to said.

When I had to pull out of the race (because I was not prepared) and had to admit that to all of you, a piece of me died. I think you all know things haven't been the same. I failed at being the fit blogger I was "supposed" to be. I failed all of you.

Same thing with eating. When I started blogging, clean eating was THE way to eat. If you weren't eating clean, you weren't dieting appropriately. I learned a lot about processed food and "cleaned up" my diet a lot, but there is also a lot of shame if you don't eat clean. So I looked into IIFYM, but probably because it's what is trendy and what all the fit bloggers are doing at the moment.

I think it's important to check out new trends, and learn new things. And every thing I have tried I have learned something new about myself. But something that was really getting to me is the shaming associated with all of it, whether self inflicted or otherwise. If you aren't an all or nothing clean eater, shame. If you eat Poptarts cause it fits your macros, shame. If you enjoy cardio instead of lifting, MEGA SHAME.

I think its really awesome we aren't alone in this extremely lonely journey because of the internet. And having so much information at our finger tips is awesome. And I am fully aware that my perceived pressure to do something is all on me. But I think we all want to fit in, we all want to do what is "right" according to the people we look up to, and we all feel internal (and often external) shame if we aren't doing it "right". There is so much cardio shaming right now. I totally get that lifting weights burns more calories in the long run, and that building muscle has SO MANY benefits, but shaming women because they like cardio is like the new black or something. Between memes and blogposts and advise that all women should hate the treadmill (or if you aren't doing HIIT, you are doing cardio wrong) etc, is more destructive than constructive.

I took last week off to clear my head. I have felt like such a failure for so long because what was "cool" wasn't working for me, or I couldn't make it work. I was letting all of that pressure build up on me and it wasn't good. I needed to step back, re-assess my situation and priorities, and figure out what I like to do. I am done keeping up with the Joneses (or Laughlins) and I am ready to do what makes me happy. This is my journey. It hasn't been perfect, it won't be perfect, but I am doing myself injustice by trying to be someone other than me.

Maybe its just me. Maybe I am the only one who feels the pressure of being fit blogger, and if so, that's fine, I own that. But if you feel the same way, you aren't alone, and you don't have to do something just to fit in. If you love counting points and running on a treadmill, that is so awesome. If you love counting macros and lifting ALL the heavy things, that is so awesome! I think we need to be more accepting that we are all on this journey of health and fitness together and that any way that we choose to get there in the end IS awesome. We aren't competing. Your way of doing it isn't better than mine. And my way isn't better than yours. This isn't a race.

If you want to read a blog about a girl who is doing her best to live a healthier (mentally and physically) life, who often messes up and definitely doesn't have all the answers, then stick around. If you are looking for someone who will lose 2+ lbs every week, provide workout videos and be a beast, I can't promise that, and my blog might not be the one for you. I can promise candor, and I can promise positivity, but I can't promise perfection. I am not an after. I am right in the sticky, hairy middle, and I am putting one foot in front of the other every day. That's all I can do.

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