By Stephanie Marshall, Toronto based Master Alignment Coach
Stephanie Tackles Body, Body Image, & Health Habits using the Kickstartology Alignment Framework
At least I don’t have thick ankles like Bathsheba Everdene.
Let me back up. I always tell my clients to spend more time focusing on what they want than on what they don’t want. And, to follow my own advice, every time I think a negative thought about my body I try to come up with a positive one. Today my mind had to reach back to grade 9 and the “thick ankles” insult that comes up in Far From the Madding Crowd.
I only remember that part of the book because:
a) It had not crossed my mind that I “should” worry about someone judging my ankles, and
b) It was a relief that my ankles adhered the beauty standard even if most of me didn’t
*See the previous #KCAlignment post on Instagram (bonus the dorkiest video on the internet) to get up to speed on my journey as I use the Kickstartology Alignment Framework to focus on my body image and health habits for 3 months.
If you want to change something in your life it’s way easier (and more likely to go your way) if you know what results you actually WANT. And this doesn’t mean what you DON’T WANT. I already know I don’t want my jeans to be uncomfortable and tight, I don’t want to drink Diet Coke all day, I don’t want to crave sugar every day, and I don’t want to have extended periods with no exercise. But creating a vision of what this actually looks like has been harder.
In the past, I frequently made plans to be “perfect”. The perfectionist fantasy. I made schedules and set rules to eat “perfectly” and exercise excessively while wishing for the impossible. And this perfectionist fantasy is kind of fun (you can get a dopamine hit from it) but it doesn’t actually work. Changing habits is not a pass/fail or a good/bad thing. If it doesn’t work it isn’t about “trying” harder, it’s about figuring out how to make it work, like solving a puzzle.
I’ve been crafting a long term vision of what I DO want, and so far:
- I feel fit, thin, strong, and healthy*
- I basically stay the same size year-round and year over year
- Drinking so much water really pays off, my skin is glowing
- I love cookies and deserts once in a while
- I run 5K faster than I did in my 30’s (not hard) and do so about once a week
- I do yoga a few times a week and with the flexibility and balance I haven’t had back issues in years
- I find fun ways to exercise, including a lot more paddleboarding and maybe indoor climbing walls
- I prefer fresh and healthy food, and it’s easy and I figure out how to make it happen even when I’m busy or travelling.
- I look cute in my favourite jeans and simple white men’s shirt
I still have to imagine some of the details but this is a decent start. Did you notice that I don’t even mention Diet Coke or sugar? That’s because people who aren’t addicted to it aren’t obsessed with it or thinking about it all the time. For example, I didn’t mention that I wasn’t going to do any heroin, because it’s not even on my radar and irrelevant. I want to not have to think about not drinking Diet Coke and abusing sugar.
Creating a clear vision is the first step in the Alignment Framework. If you’re not used to this step it can feel frivolous but it’s actually highly practical and underrated (I hope to illustrate this as I go through the process).
I’ve set a goal. For December 15th (my birthday). Here it is in the present tense:
I slide into my black zipper jeans easily and I don’t drink Diet Coke (haven’t had any in at least 2 weeks).
I know that consistent workouts are going to be a necessary piece of this puzzle. I believe it’s possible (important to check this), and I started paying attention to all of my thoughts and have some ideas on how to approach this differently. I’m starting to imagine this vision being a reality and finding out where the holes are. Like for example, today I “accidentally” had maple caramel popcorn for brunch while working because it was given to me and it was right there and I didn’t even think of what I could do differently. And I need to figure out how I will enjoy mornings without the Diet Coke hit.
Next update (follow us on Instagram to stay up to date) I’m going to dive into my self-image and mindset… get ready for a long read and most likely a lot more sharing than I usually do.
*I’m going to talk about body positivity and the glorification of “thin” in-depth later on, as well as the relationship between language and emotional resonance, But note that I stated “feel” thin.
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