The other day at the gym, I had a moment that surprised me.
I work out at Orangetheory a few times a week, and there’s another woman who also works out there who I see frequently.
She’s quite petite, very toned, has very little body fat, tan, lovely, and she is close to my age, I assume, but with the tight skin that I think means she probably didn’t battle her weight for years.
I don’t know what you assume, but I’m not a tiny, toned, zero percent body fat kind of girl. I still have fat on my body. I have stretch marks from weight gain in my teens and from pregnancy.
My weight loss did not make my body perfect. It just made it easier for me to move around in the world the way I want to.
I saw her walking out as I was on my mat stretching at the end of class, and to be perfectly honest, I glanced at her butt in her shorts — one that looks very different from mine.
Guess what ran through my mind?
“She has different genetic gifts than I do.”
No joke, that is the thought my brain offered me. Just a passing thought. I almost laughed because that is completely different from how I used to think when I saw people like that.
When it feels unfair
I was surprised and delighted that that’s where my mind lives now — in the truth, rather than the unfairness. In acceptance, rather than anger, jealousy, envy, and wishful thinking.
I used to think and feel that it was unfair that some people didn’t have to work at it. It was unfair that some people could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight. It was unfair that I had to restrict and refrain and feel deprived.
Meanwhile, I was drinking only water and eating carrot sticks instead of tacos, and I still hated my body and its size.
Along with the thought, “It’s unfair,” was always, “I wish…”
I wish my legs were longer, I wish my metabolism were faster, I wish I could eat whatever I wanted.
Anyone else? Any of you out there living in unfairness land? In the land of self-pity and injustice and wishing things were different than they are? The place where it’s so much harder for you and so much easier for others?
I feel you. I see you. I have been there.
Moving from “unfair” to “it is”
There is another option in your brain besides “It’s unfair.”
Like most ideas that I offer, it’s a simple solution, but it’s not always easy to shift to a different way of seeing things.
In this case — the case of your body, your genes, your hair, your body’s reaction or tolerance of certain foods, etc. — “unfair” is a thought, a perception, a story our brains tell us about the way things are.
This is different from unfairness in society or the legal system, for example. There is something to be done in those cases, a way to enact change, a path to justice and equality. It’s still not easy, but it is possible.
There isn’t a path to justice when it comes to your body shape or your genetics.
It isn’t possible to make it so everyone’s legs are the same length, or everyone’s body fat percentage naturally the same.
So to view it as unfair that you have to be conscientious about what you eat if you want to achieve your health goals, while your sister gets to eat Captain Crunch nonstop and not even think about it doesn’t get you anywhere but frustrated.
To think it’s unfair that your husband can cut out soda for a week and lose 10 pounds, but it takes you months of careful planning and mind management to lose the same amount doesn’t change anything.
It isn’t unfair. It just is. It is the reality. It is the way things are.
There’s nothing to be done to change it.
What we can change
We can enact changes to how we are feeding, moving, and taking care of ourselves. By doing these things, we can change some aspects, like the number on the scale and the shape and size of our bodies, and even our cravings for certain foods and our energy levels.
But we can’t change things to become the same as someone else who we think has it better.
I will never healthily be a size two. That is not how I was made.
I will not ever have skin that doesn’t scar and freckle easily. That is not how I was made.
I will not ever be able to eat endless amounts of sugar and donuts and Dr. Pepper and not gain weight and feel terrible. That’s not how I was made.
Thoughts that lead to helpful or unhelpful action
When you think, “This is unfair,” notice that you feel terrible. You feel hopeless and picked on. You are filled with self-pity, self-loathing, and even anger.
When you think about how your best friend has never dieted while you have been on a decades-long one, you feel self-pity. Then, when you’re standing in front of the pantry feeling self-pity, what do you eat?
How does that help the situation?
Believing that the body we’re in is unfair doesn’t change the body we’re in.
When we are thinking we have been given the short end of the stick with our body, we start thinking of other unhelpful things like, “It’s unfair that I can’t eat certain things, and I have to watch what I eat.” Both are lies.
What we don’t want to admit is what the consequences of that choice are for us and our bodies.
Try on acceptance
When we think about how it’s unfair, we focus on what isn’t, what’s missing, and what we perceive as wrong. The alternative is accepting, embracing, and working with what is.
The only thing we have control over is what we think, feel, and do about what is.
I’m not advocating putting on rose-colored glasses and just faking a love fest for yourself at all times. You can still think it sucks that you have high blood pressure or are pre-diabetic, or have stretch marks. You don’t have to love it.
But there is a difference between thinking, “I don’t love it, but I accept that it is,” versus, “It’s not fair that it is this way.”
The difference is how it makes you feel and show up when you think one versus the other.
Try them on. See for yourself.
If you think about something you accept versus thinking about something you think is unfair, it’s a totally different experience.
Wishful thinking is more of the same. Wishing doesn’t change anything.
It’s the doing that changes things. It’s turning our wishing into an action plan that changes things.
But watch what you wish for.
It’s one thing to think, “I wish I had a car that got better gas mileage,” and then research cars that are more efficient and figure out how much it will cost or how much the monthly payment will be, and how much you can trade-in your current car for it and then take steps to make that happen.
It’s another thing to wish that you could eat whatever you want and not gain weight.
That’s a genie wish.
As much as I would like to believe that Aladdin is real and not just an animated Disney movie with awesome music, it’s not. Genies are pretend and they can’t grant your wishes.
With that kind of wish, there’s nothing to be done. No way to make the wish a reality. No action plan to change your DNA.
You are not a person who can eat whatever they want and not gain weight. So fighting it or wishing it away is a futile endeavor.
Next level: gratitude
The first step is moving from it’s unfair to it just is. The next level is where my brain is now — looking for and noticing the differences and feeling gratitude for the gifts I have that are my own.
It isn’t about believing my gifts are better or worse than someone else’s, but just appreciating and accepting that they are mine.
I may have skin that stretches and scars and sags, but it also holds me together, protects me, and bears the evidence of my parents and grandparents, who I came from, and my children that came from me.
I may not have long legs but I have legs, and they are strong and stable and allow me to walk and run.
I have my own unique gifts and strengths, along with my own unique struggles and shortcomings.
That is true. That is real. That is what is.
Where your power lies
I wish for things I want, and I make them happen.
I acknowledge that the present is where my power lies.
I accept and embrace what is.
How can you do this for yourself?
I challenge you to think about how moving from “It’s unfair” to “It is” and then from “It is” to “I’m grateful” might shift your thinking and help you take back your power.
This kind of thought work is invaluable on your journey to losing weight for life. If you’re ready to get started, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.