I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that story. In a matter of a day, a woman goes from feeling great about herself and her fitness journey, to feeling like a failure. What is it about the scale that makes us see ourselves so radically differently? It got me thinking, so I posted a survey question on the Clear Rock page and here’s what I heard back:
Dear Women over 40,
I need your help with a survey question.
What is your greatest struggle right now?
Strength? Endurance (cardio)? Body Image? Self-Worth?
Something else? Please share below.
- Body image.
- Body Image. Comparing myself to how I looked and felt in my 20s when I was thinner and fitter. Feeling like I am losing my youth.
Making myself enough of a priority to work in healthy food preparation and exercise. I put anything and everyone before myself.
- Loving myself.
- Eating right; when I don't I get so discouraged. It's a cycle I can't seem to break. Very powerful.
- Physical challenges that I feel if I could just get beyond that obstacle I would be so much better. Body image.
- All of the above.
- Eating healthy consistently. No will power!
- Feelings of failure in/at all things.
- Self-worth for reals.
- Endurance and motivation.
- Comparing myself to others.
- Mine is cardio endurance. Trying to find ways to fit in more activity…along with a full time job and kids is not easy.
- One of my most detrimental emotional obstacles (in all aspects of my life) is my too frequent comparison to my previous self (being thinner, able to lose weight faster, run faster or further, being a better parent, etc ). It creates a looming & negative self-image, toward my current self. It's very unhealthy, but I'm conscious of it, so at least that's something I need to fix it. Guess I should mention how this relates to me working out! Creates a poor current body image & for some reason holds me back in general from motivating to get out there & do what I can do now. Not always, but too much.
- Mobility/flexibility and mornings.
- As a counselor I can tell you a majority of my clients over 40 struggle with finding their purpose (parenting role has changed, some lose a spouse, life has changed drastically, etc.).
- Balance. Family/work/friends/me!
- Self-acceptance. Being able to like who I am without those voices reminding me of all the shortcomings.
- Body image and motivation to work out the way I should in the busy world I create for myself.
- Getting to work each day.
- Strength & endurance.
- All of the above?
I believe these responses are incredible. “Self-worth for reals”, right? What does that look like? How do I get there?
For me, self-worth began to grow when I stopped identifying with the wrong things. For example:
I dropped out of high school, but I no longer identify with the term dropout.
I filed for bankruptcy in my twenties, but I no longer identify with financial failure.
I screwed up my marriage, but I no longer identify with divorced.
That’s not who I am.
Those are things I’ve done, but they are not who I am.
It’s healthy to take responsibility for the things I’ve done wrong. I think guilt helps play a role in bringing our wrongs to light so we can make things right. Empowerment says, “Yes, I did that. I made a mistake”
But taken too far, guilt becomes shame. Guilt says yes, I did that.
Shame says, I am that.
The only way I know to conquer shame is with the truth. There is a basic spiritual principle that says your identity is untouchable, no matter what you have done or what’s been done to you. Your truest self, the authentic you, remains untouched. You are perfect.
The rest just needs to be forgiven. I am forgiven for dropping out of school. I am forgiven for screwing up financially. I am forgiven for causing my divorce. If I am willing to believe and receive that, I am free of my past, which creates room for authentic self-worth to develop.
What does that look like for Toni? Authentic self-worth is Toni seeing herself exactly the same the minute before she stepped on the scale, as the minute after. Self-worth for reals means not allowing ourselves to identify with the scale, or our bodies, for that matter. Our bodies are not our uniqueness, our purpose or our heart. And the scale knows nothing of our glorious, authentic, true self.
Claim your true identity. Root down hard in it. Overcome shame (I’m no good) by understanding the difference between doing something wrong and being something wrong. Receive forgiveness for the missteps and don’t keep beating yourself up about it. That takes practice. These things will continue to come up, but when you speak boldly and say, “That no longer defines me or controls me”, you are on your way to being free.