Abolish guilt because it usually works against us.
The Oxford dictionary defines guilt as: 'a feeling of having committed wrong or failed in an obligation'
However, in my opinion we are all on a path to discover (or perhaps uncover) freedom. There is an element within all of us that wants some kind of freedom. We may search for it through different means, but at the end of the day - the underlying driving force is the desire to be free.
Isn’t it then, counter intuitive to assume that anything we feel ‘obligated’ to achieve is going to be liberating? You can’t attain a sense of freedom through a sense of duty, obligation or liability. Perhaps some of us are better at following orders than others, but at the end of the day, most of us just want to ‘do what we want’ and will rebel against any burdened activity.
For some of us, what we 'want' isn't always healthy, but FORCING yourself to do the right thing for your body and mind isn't the same thing as UNDERSTANDING WHY you should do the right thing for your body.
These days, it’s so common for guilt to be present in the health and wellness industry that we will even disguise it with a pretty mask called ‘motivation’. We advertise certain foods as either ‘Guilt Free’ or ‘Cheat Meals’. We aim to repent our lifestyle sins in the gym, or with a lack of food (or carbs), or worst of all through the punishment of negative statements towards the body we are unsatisfied with.
Now, the guilt thing may work for a few hours, weeks, days or even months. But, as I mentioned earlier, as creatures that are seeking pleasure and freedom - guilt (and guilts best friend, shame) just won’t help you maintain longevity in your health and fitness regime. At some point you’re going to want to break free from that sense of guilty responsibility and you’ll fall into the love child of Shame and Guilt - the binge.
Anyone who has ever experienced this guilt and shame spiral will be very aware of the liberating binge - and it’s not fun because straight after the binge, comes another bout of guilt and shame - and the saga continues. Honestly the plot is about as repetitive as an east enders episode.
Here are my top tips to bring abolish guilt - get them into your life now:
- Train for a skill - I harp on about it I know, but really - in my experience as an athlete and as a trainer, if you focus on achieving a skill (like a squat or a push up) you feel powerful. Feeling powerful is a big part of feeling free (not in a weapons-of-mass-destruction-kind-of-way, but in a I-am-strong-in-body-and-mind kind of way). When you shift your ‘why’, your ‘motivation’ from aesthetics to skills, you will feel great after every session and you won’t be at the mercy of your self-esteem which is always fluctuating based on life events.
- Eat to Nourish, not to Punish - Your food is your fuel. If you bought yourself a ferrari, I bet you that you would fill it with the best Octane 97 refined petrol on the market, because you would want to keep that baby purring like a kitten. The same goes for your body. It’s important that you see you food as the life giver that it is and let it nourish you. Give your body the food it needs to best get through it’s day. If you eat to nourish you will not fall into the likelihood of a binge or of self-inflicted starvation.
- Stop using Instagram fitness models as your fitspo - unless they are doing something physically impressive that you want to be able to do, using someone else’s body as your ‘body goals’ is not reinforcing the right message within your mind because it’s again, using aesthetics as a motivating factor. It’s also important to remember that photos are highly filtered these days, lighting plays a huge part in abdominal highlighting and you have no idea how much these boys and girls are actually being paid to stay lean.
- Stop comparing yourself to others - Genetics, lifestyle, career, money, body type, muscle mass, training history, metabolism… all these things play a huge part in what sets us each apart. Although we are the same at our core, it’s our physicality that sets us apart. What works for her, doesn’t necessarily work for you. Until science proves that the act of comparison leads to fat loss and cures cancer, quit comparing.
- Use Education to motivate - Learn not just what is healthy, but why it's healthy. The easiest way for me to keep eating more greens, reducing processed foods and drinking more water, was not because I saw Victoria Secret models doing it, but instead because I decide to learn the benefits of practicing those healthy habits. Learning facts (scientifically backed facts) about the foods you consume (or perhaps should reduce) will be more consistently motivating than just trying to copy some celebrity and guilt won't even need to cross your mind.
Any more ways that you like to abolish guilt? Comment them below!
Let's help each other.