Dave and I wrapped ourselves in (cheap) satin capes, dubbed ourselves Big Man and Adventure Girl (!), and went for an epic walk in the...Read More
The Best Version of Ourselves 2016
The post below was originally published in 2011, and it’s been updated each year to reflect where I am in my life and the new things I’ve learned in the previous 12 months. For 2016, I remain committed to the philosophy it outlines. This year, more than I ever, I’ve really internalized that eating well and exercising wisely make me feel so good, it hardly makes sense to stray from my path. The real treat isn’t holiday cookies or french fries (although they are delicious treats). The real treat is waking up feeling ready to embrace the day and feeling like an adventure would be a very good thing, indeed.
Thank you for all of your support, funny comments, and friendship over the years. Wishing you and yours a lovely 2016 during which you live as the best version of yourself—every day, every hour, every breath.
I’ve had a weight loss goal since I was 13 years old.
That’s more than 30 years of living with a number hanging over my head. From Weight Watchers summer camp to the rice diet to Kathy Smith’s Fat Burning Plan to Weight Watchers to the Zone to Paleo… with aerobics videos and step aerobics and triathlons and boxing and Roller Derby and half marathons and CrossFit along the way.
My motivations have been many.
Fear of being fat. Health concerns. Peer pressure to conquer the 200-pound deadlift. A personal sense of pride. Unadulterated vanity.
Those motivations shaped my behavior. I ate “right” so I would reach my Weight Watchers goal weight. I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. so I would some day see my name on the RX or PR board at my CrossFit gym. I was driven by a sometimes-debilitating fear that I would never be “better.”
Then a thought began to flicker in my subconscious. It started on holiday in Prague when I realized I liked exploring narrow, winding stairways. I was starting to loosen my grip on “destination” and reveling in “getting there.” That idea tickled me again when I was I was upside down during a handstand at the gym and during a fun, stopwatch-free run around the lake: What if I’ve been looking at this from the wrong direction?
My underlying motivation for all of it – the weight loss, the physical challenges, the healthy eating – has always been that I wanted to be the best version of myself. Happy, healthy, fit, strong, attractive. But that pure motivation was poorly translated into external measures that separated what I wanted from what I did.
So I got the notion to try something different. For the first time in more than three decades, what if I didn’t set a physical goal? No weight loss, no “leaning out,” no target time on the clock or weight on the bar.
Instead, what if I simply behaved like the best version of myself?
Then I would become her.
The best me eats clean and sleeps well and trains hard and smiles a lot. She’s free of worrying about what number might appear on a scale or a measuring tape. Instead of being intimidated or threatened by stronger, faster, leaner athletes at the gym, she delights in their capabilities. And she remembers to encourage the people around her to be their best versions.
Finally, the best version of me knows that she’s not required to eat clean or meditate or practice yoga or lift heavy or get solid sleep. There is no accounting ledger keeping track of exemplary behavior for a reward later. There is no opportunity to earn a metaphorical gold star.
The clean eating and training, meditation and lifting, the sound sleeping are the reward. They are the thing.
So I’ve banished my “concrete” fitness goals. I know that “Be the best version of me” doesn’t follow the traditional goal format. I don’t care. I’ve done it the conventional way; now I do it my way.
The best version of me refuses to be measured by some external yardstick.
The best version of me happily goes to bed early, wakes up refreshed, eats paleo, trains wisely, lifts heavy things, remembers to take a fun run and to play a little every day, spreads love, looks up, leads with the chin, makes up new recipes, and sings out loud.
Not because I must.
Because I want to. Because that’s me. The best me.
What’s the best version of you?
Not the one you think other people want to see, or the one the media tells you to be. The one you desire to be, deep down. Can you work toward being the best version of you? Without judgment? Without punishment? Without reward? Can you revel in being you?