The Best Version of Ourselves 2018

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. Here, in 2018, I’m as committed as ever to the philosophy it outlines. The year 2017 was a challenging one for me—and for so many others. I’ve had some very high highs—moving to Prague!—and too many moments of bitter tears. In the coming year, my goal is ease. I’m leaning toward peacefulness and a solid core of power as I continue to learn… how to be a resistance fighter, how to care for my body and mind, how to love unconditionally, how to be the baddest badass I can be.

Thank you for being here with me over the years. I’m sending wishes to you and yours for a 2018 that gives you plenty of what you want and just what you need.

I’ve had a weight loss goal since I was 13 years old.

That’s more than 35 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 my 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?

I Quit The Thing That Defined Me

  My pal Molly thinks she's a scaredy-cat, but she's actually bold and daring. On her delightful blog Hey Eleanor, she writes — honestly, eloquently— about...

Read More
Come, Yet Again, Come

It can be very powerful to recognize the significant difference between "starting over" and "starting fresh." While browsing through some old yoga notes this weekend, I...

Read More

Comments

  • Andrea says:

    Damn Mel! I love your salmon cake recipe! (Actually, your entire cookbooks rock.). I don’t know how I ever lived with out it! My version changes according to my pantry, but it rocks every time. Carry on! All the best for 2018, Andrea

  • Marie says:

    Thank you – this is so timely!
    I have been struggling for the last 6 months or so on somewhat of a plateau after having relatively steady success in my journey of weight loss & striving for increased stamina & strength. I have struggled with weight for most of my life, and for the last 30 years after high school I have been very heavy.

    The blessing for me was finding a doctor that would listen to me thoughtfully; she has been helping me to sort out everything going on in my body that was working against me & supervising my efforts. Previously doctors just said “watch what you eat & exercise more” – on an 1,100 calorie a day diet with exercise I was gaining!

    I have been stuck since June, and throwing myself regular pity parties. Thank you for the encouragement to strive for the Best Version RIGHT NOW & also in the future… and to enjoy the journey. I’m making this my 2018 quest. I don’t know how long this road may take or how long it will be before I “arrive” to wherever I think it is when I’ll be done. Making it about the journey & not the destination is so much healthier.

    Prague sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to visit there – I was a grad student in Moscow & Lviv in 1991 and had the blessing of traveling to Poland (finally – after 30 years of wanting to) last year. Hope to make it to Czech Republic someday.

  • Jennifer Vaughan Flick says:

    I LOVE THIS. Seems to be a women’s movement like this going on, it’s in the wind. If you haven’t seen the movie “Embrace” by Taryn Brumfitt give yourself the $5 gift on Amazon and see it. It will make your heart and mind sing with her in unison!