It may come as no surprise that I firmly believe in the power of language (shout-out to my high-school career counsellor!). It's true, every single word we speak holds so much power. Often even replacing just one word with another can change it's meaning and set off an entirely new chain of events, without even realizing it. It can be the difference been finishing or giving up, being excited or indifferent, being productive or destructive. When it comes to fitness and body image there are already so many things in the world that stand in our way of success, both physically and mentally... your words shouldn't be one of them! Don't let your vocabulary habits word-block your goals. Here are a few useless and toxic phrases that could be standing in YOUR way!
"I have to work out"
Think back to when you were a child, a time when life was filled with things we had to do. I, for example, had to practice piano, wear pantyhose, eat broccoli, do homework, be nice to my brother, and the list continues. There was little to no (mostly no) choice in these matters -- and most of the time they were things I really hated doing. Now that I'm an adult (as questionable as that title may seem sometimes), I can choose to ditch the nylon pantyhose in favour of cotton stockings (thank GOD!) and I genuinely want to be nice to my brother these days (at least most of the time), there are still some things I have to do and again, they're not pleasant: Taxes... laundry... pap smears... Need I go on? My point is, the things we have to do in life, the things we have no choice in doing, usually suck.
That's why it's important that we don't condition ourselves to feel forced when it comes to optional activities, because obligation has the ability to ruin our outlook towards things, for life. Like sex, for example -- if you start considering sex a chore, it probably won't rock your world anytime soon... in fact, you might learn to resent it altogether. Bad. News. The same thing goes for the gym -- if you tell yourself you have to workout you might be conditioning yourself to despise exercise, (and lord knows we don't need help in that department!) I know it sounds lame, but instead, choose to choose the gym. Remind yourself why it's important to you to go, while also reminding yourself that you have the choice to opt out.
Bottom line, don't put your workout in the same category as waxing your bikini line. You have a choice in the former and not the latter... or maybe you have a choice in both? Whatever, no judgement. But, you catch my drift.
"I want to be skinny"
As a writer, I have an aptitude for a few slick and snazzy language skills. (Again, three cheers for career compatibility!) For one, I've been known to be something of an alliteration queen. I'm also somewhat of a walking thesaurus; I love finding different words that depict, describe or define the same thing. See what I did there? It can be an effective writing tool when making a point, emphasizing the bottom line, highlighting the argument. (OK, I'll stop!) It can also tell us a lot about the literal meaning of a word or expression. All too often, we forget the true definition behind phrases that are deeply embedded in our vocabularies. The word skinny is an exasperating example of this. If I had a dime for every time someone in the gym told me they wanted to be "skinnier" or cheerfully told another gym goer how "skinny" they look that day... well, let's just say I would have a lot of money. Actually, that's a great idea - maybe I should start a skinny jar -- every time you use the S-WORD you put a dollar in the jar. Brilliant.... but, I digress.
Do you want to know the synonyms that are associated with the word skinny? Not to show off or anything, but: scrawny, emaciated, undernourished, weak, skeletal, sickly. When you look at it like that, you wonder how this word has become something our society celebrates. Something people strive towards? A goal. A compliment. An ambition! I mean, it really is scary, when you break it down, isn't it?
I'm not under any false assumptions that our society's completely unrealistic, unproductive and unhealthy beauty standard will change anytime soon, but I do think that we can start by calling it something different in our own lives. We can change our script, our vocabulary, our vernacular; change our own points of view, if not that of others. Instead of wanting to be weak and skeletal, let's strive to be strong and fit, lean and muscular, able bodied and healthy. Now these are goals to be proud of!
Note: If you do slip up and use the word skinny from time to time, don't panic -- simply put a dollar in an envelope and send it my mailing address. You'll learn quickly, and I'll buy new shoes. It's a win, win.
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