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Hushing My Inner Jerk

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Last night I left BodyCombat, sweaty and beet-red, with a burning hip and a little fear that I'd overdone it, when I saw a friend. We got to chatting about the assorted classes offered by the gym and the various instructors and members of the classes. Over the course of the conversation we admitted that it helps to be in the front of the class to keep our brains from slipping into judgment mode. You've probably been there. It's an ugly place.

You're working hard, working as hard as you physically can, and you notice that the person in front of you is also working incredibly hard. But your own exhaustion and insecurity teams up and instead of cheering them on in your brain, your mind goes, "Look at that dude/guy/woman/etc. Um, did you even see how your butt looked when you put those pants on before coming to class?"

Whoa. That's ugly right there. And super mean.

I work on it. I'm working on it now. Hard. I mentioned to my friend that part of my journey toward body acceptance means accepting ALL bodies, not just my own. Obsessing over them is so unhealthy. And it's mean.

And, honestly, it's really just a reflection of my own insecurities. Picking on someone else when I'm sweating and feeling like I'm going to puke just makes me feel better. Bad. I know it's bad.

A lot of things about my inner voice are a reflection of how twisted I let my brain become on this journey towards health. Competition is one of them.

I know that competition is very often thought of as being positive. If you see the guy next to you working hard, you try to keep up. He tries to keep up with you. It's a feedback loop and you both get stronger! RIGHT??

Maybe.

For me it goes more like this:

Me: Awesome Husband! (I usually call him baby). My friend just started running/powerlifting/circuit training/boxing/CrossFit etc!!

AH: Oh that's wonderful! Good for them!

Me: No Awesome Husband. You don't understand! What if friend gets stronger/faster/thinner/health
ier/sexier than me??!?

AH: Baby.............what you're saying is insane and unhealthy.

Me: I KNOW. But still............

That exchange, writing it, makes me chuckle a little. But it absolutely happened.

It absolutely happened like.............twelve times.

In my journey towards health and fitness, I lost my way a little. It happens to a lot of us. Maybe even most of us. In trying to whip my body into shape, I forgot that my body isn't NEARLY the most important thing in my life. Not at all. Certainly it accomplishes its purpose and I'm proud of what it's capable of and how hard I work to keep it healthy. But the way it LOOKS should not be the focus of my life. And the fear of it not stacking up to others is shallow.

I am competitive enough that my competitive spirit robs me of joy. It's one of the main reasons I won't join a CrossFit gym. Others being stronger than me would drive me mad and I'd end up hurt, trying to keep up. Again, that is shallow.

And I am competitive enough that a woman, or man, larger than I am, whose body has a different shape, working hard in class but not able to do what I do, makes me feel superior.

That.

Is.

Wrong.

Loving myself and my body has been a difficult road. It's been more difficult then maybe I've ever let on in my blog. But loving my own body means admitting that bodies are very rarely perfect. And if I'm going to admit that about myself I had absolutely better be able to admit that about others.

My inner jerk torments me too, guys. When I see and ridicule flaws in others I am absolutely doing it to myself as well. I have to stop it. I have to learn to love what I am able to do and the skin I'm in. Nobody else will do that for me.

And I have to recognize that the people my insecure brain is ridiculing, they're working towards the same acceptance.

I think I learned a lesson walking out of the gym sweaty and red and gross. Sometimes that inner voice, that little Jiminy Cricket, sometimes that voice is a total jerk.

And sometimes you have to tell it to shut up until it can be more constructive.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MRS.CARLY 7/5/2013 5:31PM

    I get it...I totally get it...I think a lot of people can relate to this. I have one friend that is a personal trainer...and I have noticed that if I post a workout that I'm proud of she will post something in which she ran faster than I did, or lifted heavier than I did.

It brings me down for a second or two, then I pull myself back up and realize I did MY personal best for that day and congratulate her on HER personal best.


It takes time dude, totally takes time.

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VERONICAVW_140 1/30/2013 3:17PM

    WORD!! We all do it. And just as you mentioned, it is wrong! I hated my body for a long long time. Still some days I'm mean to myself. And then there are the days that I am inwardly mean to others. Blech! It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I don't like that I resort to demeaning others just to make myself feel better. I am so proud of you for confronting this issue and wanting to change it. Great blog.

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A-STRONGER-ME 11/9/2012 8:47AM

    OMG!!! You have had the courage to say out loud (so to speak) what so many of us "think"

I applaud you and we can all learn a lesson here!!

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LINDAJOYWK 11/9/2012 8:10AM

    I applaud your honesty...it is no easy thing.

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BONOLICIOUS2 11/8/2012 8:06AM

    Oh my gosh I HEAR YOU ON THIS. I think it is human, because everyone is here (including me) saying we do it too. It is WONDERFUL that you are trying to keep yourself and check and not let it control you. That self awareness will keep you from actually turning into an outside jerk
emoticon
And isn't it funny how hard we can be on ourselves? The one "person" we have to live with every single moment of every single day, and we can be downright evil to it! Again - kudos to you for being aware and working on it. We have to love ourselves first, how else can we learn how to love everyone else?

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HOPEFULHIPPO 11/7/2012 6:01PM

    loved every word of this.

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BEFIT_WITHGUSTO 11/7/2012 4:33PM

    Thank you for your honesty! Now I'm going to wonder what people are thinking about my butt in class! :) I can be very judgmental in other ways but in fitness classes, I'm kind of the opposite. I look at both the fit and the overweight as inspiration. When I look at the fit people, I'm thinking how awesome their body is and when I look at the overweight people, I'm thinking how awesome it is they're in the class working their butts off (literally). I'm also admiring everyone's work out clothes and sneakers. haha.

Love your body, girl! It's the only one you'll ever have....and it's a great one!

I sound very PollyAnna today.

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FOXY13445 11/7/2012 4:28PM

    great read! I can TOTALLY relate to every word of this - thanks for planting the seed, maybe I can start to accept myself and others without my inner jerk echoing around!

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SUSANSERENE 11/7/2012 3:15PM

    Great post! Thoughtful, provocative and one I can definitely relate to. Thanks so much for saying out loud (sorta!) what so many of us may be thinking! Wow!

Keep up the amazing work!

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BAKER1009 11/7/2012 3:06PM

    I know we've talked about this before. I'm guilty at times, though, like you, I am working on it. And I do realize that it's more about my insecurities than anything. All we can do is keep working on ourselves, and learning how to love ourselves. You'll get it to Jolene, just keep working on it.
Might I remind you though - you do work hard and it does show. You look awesome!!

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KATYMS 11/7/2012 3:03PM

    Thank-you for your honesty. It is hard to admit to the negativity that we heap on ourselves and others. I have had that conversation with my husband too (mine basically said the same thing as yours "Do you realize what a wacko you sound like right now babe?"). But even him saying that didn't halt my thought process, I STILL let it pop into my head over the next few days. It took conscious effort not to dwell on it. I have a lot harder time with the mental discipline than any other part of this process.
~Katy~

Comment edited on: 11/7/2012 5:54:09 PM

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SONGBUDDHA 11/7/2012 12:04PM

    Great blog!
It is all so related, that nasty inner voice that says that NO ONE is OK, us included. We have all really been there. I am obsessed with asking my partner (when we see some random person on the street who I think might be about my size), "am I about that big? bigger? smaller? Fortunately she usually responds by telling me she's not going to play that game, which is a much saner answer.
Thanks for posting this, and keep on countering that voice!!
annjie

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FITMOMMYFORLIFE 11/7/2012 11:41AM

    Man, you have such a way with bringing to light things that have gone through my head so many times! It's such a nasty rabbit hole to go down! But I think a lot of us do it, in order to stuff down out own insecurities.. I know I certainly do. Lately I've been trying to make a point to positively notice things about myself when I look in the mirror, regardless of the first things that come to mind.. I've found that the more and more I do that with MYSELF, I find that bleeding into my perception of others! Even if that person doesn't have a lot going on for them, I try to find SOMETHING. it's all about the PMA! (positive mental attitude =] ) Time to flex it! Thank you so much for this reminder, friend!

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FIGHTINGFORME1 11/7/2012 11:27AM

    i agreed with so much of this post and am guilty of having some of the same thought processes in everyday life. i wish there were more people out there who could read this...maybe some could even learn from it.

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DDOORN 11/7/2012 11:20AM

    A whole lot of head-nodding here too...being SO judgmental toward myself CAN spill over to others too at times and I heartily agree...it's the same nasty monster rearing it's head and it is so harmful to myself and others if I don't reel it in and stomp on it!

Don

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