I’ve been thinking about the word “ego” a lot over the past few weeks.
ego, noun – a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance; the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.
I was lucky enough to get a spin bike in a special class that my friend, and fellow lululemon ambassador, Esther Collinetti taught a few weeks ago at the Sandlot in Baltimore. The Sandlot overlooks the Baltimore Harbour, and she taught an 8am class one Saturday morning to fifty riders outside. That week, I had been thinking that week about my goals for my fall competition season. I have 2 shows planned for the fall, with a possible third that I’m considering, and I really want to win my Pro Card this year. In order to do that, I have to place number one overall in bikini, beating every other competitor. I had been thinking about what it would take to win. I would have to change a few things about my training. I would have to work harder. I would have to sacrifice more.
When I was pedaling along during the first ten minutes of Esther’s 45-minute ride and listening to her inspiring words, it hit me really hard. Even if I work harder than ever, there is no guarantee that I will win. Esther talked about how we have to smash our egos, how working hard was a “given” when you are training and how we just need to take that leap of faith instead of worrying about all of the little steps along the way. I wished I could have stopped in the middle of class to write down even half of the inspirational phrases that she delivered. I kept saying to myself, “I have to remember this!” But by the end of the 45-minute, grueling workout, I only retained less than half of what she said. The workout was simply too hard, and my brain could not capture it all. You can take on of Esther’s classes for yourself at her cycle studio Rev in Baltimore. I promise you that it is worth the drive from Annapolis, even if you have to leave at 5:15am for her 6am class.
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept YOURSELF.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
The off season has been a challenge for me in acceptance. Over the past 8 weeks, I have watched my body go from svelte and lean to soft and curvy. I have watched it and allowed it to happen. Partly because I know that I need to add calories and fat in order to “make gains” (grow my muscles) in the weight room and partly because I just didn’t care that much anymore about what I looked like. After being so very strict with my diet for over 4 months, it felt so nice to just relax and eat whatever. My stage weight during my last spring show was 124 pounds, and now I sit (uncomfortably) at little over 140. This is not what I had hoped would happen during my off season. In a “perfect world” I would have been a perfect student and reverse dieted perfectly, slowly increasing my food each week to minimize weight gain. But I am not perfect. When I go from living in my own little food prison during prep, to breaking out of jail, it is hard for me to live in balance. I have never been good with moderation, and it is something that I am always working on. In a perfect world, I would have gained a little bit of weight back after my shows (since stage weight is not a healthy weight for me), and sit more comfortably at 133 pounds. I am not body shaming myself or beating myself up for my softer body, I am just speaking truthfully about the struggles that I face. I am uncomfortable.
You may read this article and look at my photo and roll your eyes but I would not roll my eyes at you if you told me you were uncomfortable with an aspect of your life. My ego would not have allowed me to admit these feelings to you. It would have told me to keep these thoughts all inside and not to share them with the world. It would have told me to focus on self rather than to share my experience with others. My ego focuses on the outside world. My soul focuses on my insides. My ego is judgmental. My spirit accepts who I am right now. My ego feels less than. My soul feels abundance. My ego focuses on the past or the future. My soul is present focused.
I have been focusing on accepting things exactly the way that they are right now. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what I used to look like, and I don’t spend much time longing for my future fall season body. I just sit here in the present, feeling uncomfortable. I want to feel this feeling really hard right now because I don’t want to get back to this place after my fall shows. I want to do a better job with moderation, with reverse dieting and with slowing adding back my calories to achieve balance. This week marks 12 weeks out until my first fall show, so these feelings will start to go away as I tighten up my diet. I’ve been uncomfortable for the past several weeks, and I don’t want to go back to that place again.
I chose to write this blog post today to help others. To remind us all that there are times in our lives that we are going to be uncomfortable. Maybe our spouse’s job is unstable. Maybe there is a new health concern in our family. Maybe you too have lost your motivation this summer and are sitting at an uncomfortable weight for you – even if that is only 5 or 10 extra pounds. I challenge you to just sit with the discomfort. Feel the feelings. Don’t mask them with shopping or happy hour or being overly busy. Feel them. Decide if you can do anything about your current uncomfortable situation, and if so, get your ass off the couch and change what you can. Know that you have the power to shift the course of your life in many ways. You just need to find the courage to take the first step. Know that you need to shed your ego in order to grow. I have shed mine tonight when I shared this with you. I hope you have the courage to do the same in your life. Tomorrow is a new day. Go out there and crush it.