Self-love vs self-abuse. It’s a fine line.

Why you are doing what you are doing matters.

Exercising because it feels good versus doing it to punish yourself for eating. Fasting to give your cells a break from glucose overload verses starving yourself as punishment for eating something “bad”.

Talking about what is healthy and what isn’t healthy is a challenging endeavor. What is visible on the surface says nothing about what is going on underneath. This is why we have to focus on the why rather than the what. There is a population of people who look “great” and are experiencing a great deal of self-abuse. They are what many others aspire to look like. But if we knew the amount of torture and self-hate that goes into it, we might reconsider it’s significance.

This is a conversation for the obsessive. For people struggling with non-visible eating disorders. Those of us who will never receive intervention because we look “normal”. We may instead have people in our lives who perpetuate our self-hating practices.

This issue isn’t going to resonate with everyone. We are a specific group, but we are a MASSIVE one. If you know what obsession feels like, if you look in the mirror and rarely, if ever, like what you see, if you have a problem balancing health and self-love, this is a conversation for you.

There is a bully inside of us that tells us that we are not good enough. It tells us that we have to make drastic changes to become worthy of anything. In the meantime, we have to abuse ourselves mentally and physically. The bad news is: there is no end to it. You will never make that part of yourself happy. It represents self-hate, and it has no other purpose. It can’t be happy. It is the part of you that you have to overcome to feel better. There will be no pinnacle moment of self-satisfaction on this path. Even if you achieve the body you think you need, you wont be able to see it. You are blind now, you’ll be blind later.

But there is hope. Now that you know that this part of you exists, you can make strides to remove it. It happens faster than you think and one day, you will know what it feels like to be comfortable in your own skin. You are going to learn so much about yourself that you completely fall in love. Head over heels, in love. Starting here, now, and forevermore.

God speed,

Tyler Kingsbury, Certified Personal Trainer, BS Biology

HAES Principles - TheWellful.com

Finding Your Purpose

Purpose does not have to be some crazy, enlightening thing. It will feel like magic though. There is something that’s been brewing in your life since before you can even remember. It’s something that has always been important to you. It’s what drives you when you feel like you can’t control anything. It’s the thing you try to control.

Throughout our lives, we are taught to mute certain aspects of ourselves, in order to fit in. This confuses us when it comes to knowing what is and isn’t true about us. Undoing this, will lead you to an internal place where you can trust yourself. When you find that place inside of you, your next challenge is to allow yourself to let it shine out, through you. Fortunately, when you find what this light is, the “letting it shine” part is the fun and time consuming part.

Your purpose is the thing you can spend hours a day doing and when you finally break away from it, you say, “Where did the time go?” It’s the thing, where when you focus on it more, all the creative ideas start flowing. You love this feeling. You want to find ways to share it with the world.

Unfortunately, many of us are caught up giving this energy to our televisions, video games, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. Our purpose changes to distractions, addictions and codependency. We fall back into these things from time to time then, we fortunately get a little taste of depression. That’s the ironic reminder to get us back to our purpose. We simply can’t focus on our purpose 100% of the time. So, it’s okay. Give yourself a break. You’re only human.

So, in finding your purpose, here are three things you can begin to recognize:

  1. Depression: This is a reminder that you’re focus has been somewhere else and it’s time to get back on track.
  2. You want to share the energy you get from this thing, with the world.
  3. When you are working on this thing, time gets away from you.

Do you have any other ideas and suggestions for recognizing your purpose? Share them in the comments below.

Self-Care During Universal Despair

How can I possibly give myself attention, love and care when the world around me is in chaos? I don’t deserve nice things when there are people suffering. I can’t focus on something like self-love when there are people out in the world who don’t have that luxury.

Here’s the thing…

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. It’s the main thing we retain from our flight attendants during our pre-flight lecture:

In case of emergency, you must put the oxygen mask on yourself before anyone else. You’re certainly no help to anyone if you asphyxiate and become unconscious.

When you continue to practice self-love and self-care while the world is on edge, you are a more conscious and helpful resource. It isn’t selfish, in fact it’s incredibly helpful and necessary. It takes immense strength to take what you need when there appears to be nothing. The more you lower stress in your own life, the more you can clear space in your mind to allow for creative ideas and solutions. The more space you allow to love and relax, the more you are capable of caring for others. If you’re cup isn’t full, you’ll have nothing to give.

This starts a cycle of care. When you give to yourself, you can give to others and the more you give to others, the more you gain. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best:

“It is one of the beautiful compensations in life is that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping themselves.”

Care for yourself. Spread the love.

Holding back

Turns out, you need to brag more. You need to open up more. If you have something to say, say it. No one is gaining anything from you holding back. We are lying to ourselves constantly and everyday pretending our lives are everything we wanted them to be. So, more of us are pretending, to fit in. The outcome is that we all feel so alone.

Open up, reach out, love more, speak up.

No one has it all. They need you more than you know.

You are not alone. Show others they are not alone.

Battle to Exercise

I found the importance and value of exercise by being forced to do it. I was thrust into a 6am “Cardio Intervals” class as a substitute instructor. As you might imagine, everyone taking the class was more fit than me. I was not getting myself to 6am classes by my own volition and these people were. Suddenly, I was their teacher. Thank goodness the world has plenty of people who don’t care enough, so that someone like me (at the time) would end up in a position like that. Granted, I did sing a song in my interview and I’m good at writing resumes, but here I was. “Under qualified. Not worthy”, exclaims my inner bully about everything I do.

My insecurities were just as powerful as they’d ever been. Being in front of a group of people more fit than me activated them like a virus. Somehow, my desire to fit into the fitness instructor stereotype with obsessive exercising and body shaming taught me the importance of exercise, fitness and healthy eating habits. But how?

I started to notice, on days I would exercise that I would feel good about myself. For the first time in my life, I could look at myself in the mirror and like what I saw. I felt fine about myself because I knew I was putting in the work. I was putting in A LOT of work and if THIS wasn’t enough, then WTF would be? I noticed, because of the frequency of exercise, that if I went a week or so without it, anxiety and depression increased. It’s true what they say, exercise helps regulate mood. But I think my biggest learning experience came when I started losing so much hair that I finally went to the doctor to test my hormones and whatever else doctors do. The tests showed that my cortisol was high.

Cortisol is a stress hormone.

I assumed the stress was caused by my schooling, specifically pre-med and being that I wasn’t going to drop out, I came up with a different, hopeful solution. I started attending yoga classes. I was lucky to end up in a class with an amazing, gateway-yoga instructor. She never got too “woo-woo”, as some would describe, and I was hooked. She spoke about how yoga and exercise was recess and it was an opportunity to slow down to allow ourselves the time that we needed to practice being good people, basically.

After some time, my cortisol level went down. But through my own research I found that the excess stress on my body was coming from frequent, high-intensity exercise. I was doing the get in shape quick routine. H.I.I.T. stands for High Intensity Interval Training, and too much of it causes increased cortisol in the blood. This particular type of exercise favors bringing you into your anaerobic zone for short periods of time and it’s super fun! I do recommend it, but based on the research, no more than 2-3 times a week and only for 30 minutes at a time. Also, to be clear, excessive exercising of any kind will cause hair loss as well as other side effects, such as; pain, injury and even depression.

So, I’m that person. The one who always has to learn the hard way. Can you find your path to believing in the power of regular exercise in a modest, healthy and safe manner? I hope so. But if not, there are plenty of places to go to find hit-the-ground-running, burnout, 45 day challenges, etc. Where you do everything intensely to reach an ideal goal rather than a reasonable one. Maybe you can realize the benefits this way. Or maybe you can take a peek at my TedxTalk on youtube and make some goals another way.

Obsession has been a part of my life for far too long and I would never wish it upon anyone. Life is more fulfilling when you stop abiding by the evil, mean, judging voice in your head and instead work to silence the bastard. This way you find out what is truly important to you. We’ve been rewarding body types achieved through obsessive techniques for some time now, but…

What good is it?

What good are abs doing for the world?! Honestly, I want to know. The hours people spend in the gym to look a certain way, the amount of stress given to meeting goals based on arbitrary standards, has never done anything for any world crisis. If we compile all the hours people spent trying to look like the photo-shopped and/or starving and/or surgery-ed people together, how much time have we spent on nothing? These things that mean absolutely nothing to anyone.

Love yourself.

Now, not later. Screw the standards. Find your reason to take care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be torture. It truly is a reward.

Being in the Work

I’ve heard it, you’ve heard it, we’ve all heard it: “You’re right where you need to be”.

Another similar thing I read recently in Want by: Julie Peters, “This takes as long as it takes”.

What do these mean? I think they mean this: We often wait to celebrate until we arrive at a destination. We maybe never celebrate the journey or the work, time and effort we put in to get to that place.

Find a way to remind yourself, in your moments of despair, that you are “in the work”. You are inside of the journey and that’s the hard, and obviously necessary part. You don’t get anywhere without it. It’s physically impossible.

Celebrate where you are today. Look back at where you were and rejoice. You are here, now.

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