It’s not only about whether we celebrate our successes, but also how we treat our setbacks. In the last 12 months, I have actually gained 15 pounds (yep, that’s right), and it taught me a few very important lessons about self acceptance and letting it go.
Often, when we are progressing with something, when we are getting better at it, and then when we suddenly hit a setback, we immediately begin to blame ourselves. We begin to feel that all that great progress that we were making is gone, wasted, and that we have ultimately failed.
Have you ever felt like this?
In 2021, after working out consistently for several years, I got into my best fitness shape ever. And then I lost quite a bit of it. At first, it made me feel very frustrated. But then I realized that it is actually okay – that there is nothing wrong with me.
And here is why.
My hate-love relationship with fitness
I like to say that I have a hate-love relationship with any sort of physical activity, meaning that I used to hate it for pretty much most of my life, until a few years ago I fell in love with it.
When I was a teenager, I was absolutely the worst at physical education, and I’m not even exaggerating. I failed all tests – whether it was running, jumping, basketball, volleyball, or anything else. The funny thing is that I had the perfect grades in all other subjects, and I guess my teachers didn’t want to deal with me having bad grades in PE (I’m pretty sure they just wanted good results for the school), and so they would simply give me good grades for PE and would close their eyes to how bad I really was.
And I was really, really bad. So of course I hated it, because how can you love something that you are so bad at?
It’s not that I was that overweight, but I definitely was in bad physical shape.
Then, when my daughter was born, I suddenly lost a lot of weight. Breastfeeding probably played its role, and it made me very happy – I could call myself skinny for the first time in my life!
Unfortunately, six months later all that weight came back…
When if finally clicked
Few years later, I finally decided to start working out. I started coming to the gym, but I was doing it on and off – I couldn’t really make it consistent.
And it wasn’t until 2019 when I started working out with a personal trainer that I really got into exercising.
One of the main reasons why it was different this time was because I finally started to do it right. I finally didn’t overdo it.
What usually happens when you are in a bad shape and you suddenly decide to start exercising and you are doing it on your own, you overdo it.
I remember I would come back from the gym 10 years ago and I would feel like I was gonna die. I felt exhausted! Back then, I didn’t really know what level of effort I would or would not be able to handle, so I just overdid it. But when I started working out with the trainer, he would tell me exactly what to do – he made sure to push me, but he would do it gradually. I discovered that it is actually possible to feel energized after a workout!
And as I was getting stronger and was gaining more confidence in the gym, I was getting more and more into it.
Getting into the best shape ever
When COVID started, it actually helped my workout routine even more. Kevin and I transformed our garage into the gym, our trainer would come and train both of us three times a week. Doing it together with my husband helped a lot too (hello extra accountability!)
Around the same time, I got into running. At first it was just 1 mile, but then I got to a point when I could run 3 miles, 4 miles, or 5 miles.
I was really getting better with exercising.
My shape significantly improved. I started doing keto, and in the summer of 2021 I got to my best shape ever. I felt skinny and strong. I even started seeing a six-pack on my abs for the first time ever!
I was so proud of myself.
At that point I was working out 6 times a week: strength training 3 days a week (and I was lifting a lot of weights, this is when I got to my record with squats – 225 pounds), running twice a week, and I was also playing tennis.
So I was really exercising a lot.
Then we moved to Houston, and my routine changed.
I still do strength training 2-3 days a week as well as go for runs 1-2 times a week, but weather here in Houston is much more unpredictable, so it’s definitely not 6 times a week anymore.
You are more than a number on a scale
Several months ago, I got on a scale and realized that since 2021 I had gained about 15 pounds. Of course, my first reaction was, “Oh, crap! All that work, all my great progress is now wasted!”
At first, it was very tempting to get on some crazy intensive diet to lose those 15 pounds and to get back to that shape that I was so proud of. But then I stopped myself – because my life had changed.
My life landscape and the constraints of life that I’m operating within right now are different from what I was operating within two years ago.
Two years ago I had a nanny, so my daughter was taken care of for the whole day. My work wasn’t as busy as today – I wasn’t managing a 25-million-dollar portfolio as I do now. And I didn’t have my business back then.
But now, it’s all changed.
As I said, when I saw that number on a scale, when I realized that I’d gained 15 pounds, at first I was very upset and I wanted to start working out 6 days a week again, no matter what. But then I told myself that it is very important to not let those numbers on a scale affect how I feel about myself.
Because me and my life are so much more than any number on any scale.
Life is so much more complicated. And me getting on a diet right now is NOT what my body needs. I don’t need additional stress right now. If anything, I need less stress. And recognizing that and acting appropriately makes us smart.
Sometimes you need to ease on a particular part of your life.
In my case, I needed to ease on working out and I need to be okay with it.
Maybe you used to workout a lot, and then you had a baby, and now you are frustrated because you struggle to find the same amount of time to workout as before. Well of course you are! You life has changed upside down! All your life routines are not completely different! Your life, that was so perfectly in order, has turned into chaos – and that is okay!
That’s just the reality of this season of your life.
And it is very important that you see the whole, holistic picture of your life and don’t judge it based on some temporary changes or setbacks.
Accept yourself and do your best in the current conditions
In my situation, there are still things that I do in order not to get out of shape completely. I do still exercise, and I watch what I eat – I prefer healthy meals that are high in protein.
But I am not going to push myself and get on some crazy 1200-calorie diet, because it’s just going to crush my body and my mind, and I need my brain to be able to work properly! So I need carbs, I need calories to be able to operate in the environment I’m living in right now.
This is what is really important, and this is what often we don’t give ourselves permission to do – really ease on a particular part of our life temporarily.
Yes, at some point I do want to go back to that shape that I had, I do want to see six-pack again, I want to be able to do pull-ups, and maybe I will start squatting 225 pounds again. Or maybe I won’t.
Because that’s NOT the goal of my life.
The goal is to be enjoying my life, to be enjoying myself, to be proud of myself. And I want exercising to serve this goal, not vise versa.
So, take this as an inspiration and as a sign that maybe you need to let it go for now. Whatever it is – take it easy. Listen to your mind, listen to your body, and do what you really need right now, in this season of your life.
And once you do that, once you accept yourself the way you are, once you let it go, a miracle will happen – you will naturally want more. Without any force, without any pressure.