Shaming vs. Enabling

“At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together.” — Unknown

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Berry Bark
Homemade Frozen Yogurt Berry Bark 🍓

I came across an Instagram account a while back that shared a similar story to my own. Her name is Gen and she overcame a lot of obstacles to get in shape. Her story was so inspiring and felt a lot like mine, except there was one big difference: she kept going. My goal isn’t to compare my progress to hers. Instead, she brought up a really great point on her page that I hadn’t thought about, and I think it’s what has been holding me back.

First of all, go follow Gen. She has an amazing story and her posts are authentic. Her page doesn’t feel like all those other fitness accounts that are trying to sell you on their partnership products or create a perfect image of their lives.

She wrote about shaming and enabling one day. I saved the post because I was in 100% agreement on every point she wrote. It felt like I might as well have written the post myself because I had the exact same thoughts. The main point of the post was that losing weight and getting into shape wasn’t about needing to change. It was about wanting to change and finding the strength within yourself to do it.

I hear the same thing she mentioned all the time. The beloved, “You don’t need to lose any weight. You look great!” Everyone says this wanting to cheer me up and they mean well, but it puts me in a position to start making excuses. They get easier to make when others are constantly enabling me by telling me I’m fine and don’t need to change.

It’s a reminder that I can stay right where I am and be comfortable. Honestly, I’m not comfortable at all though. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy for a second until I’m reminded that I don’t like this version of myself that feels like other people have to tell me I look good. I don’t like the girl in the mirror who feels weak and needs affirmations or reminders that I’m okay even though I know I’m not. It feels like weakness to me.

There’s a huge difference between body shaming someone for the way the look and enabling them to remain stuck in their ways. Most people probably don’t realize they’re enabling at all. I always hear the same well-intentioned phrases about my body. That my legs looked fine, I’m a pretty girl, it’s what’s on the inside that matters…but it just hurts to hear those things. They don’t help me. And I know the people who are saying them aren’t letting those words leave their mouths with those intentions. They’re trying to make me feel better, but it never equates to that.

Instead, I continue to keep my bad habits. I continue to put the workout off because skipping one won’t matter in the long run. I keep eating the bad foods I should be cutting out because, hey, it’s just *one*. But the truth is, it’s never just one. It ends up breaking a healthy cycle and new habit I’m trying to form. Plus, that “one” starts to add up quickly. It sets my progress back because the inconsistency throws my new routine off. I keep using the positive phrases as an excuse to remain stuck in my ways even though I want to break out of them so badly.

Gen acknowledges that it’s not their fault. And she’s right, it isn’t. If any one of these people said I was fat or maybe I shouldn’t eat whatever was on my plate, then I’d be pissed. I don’t want people to shame me—who does?—but I also don’t want to be enabled consistently.

Sometimes, all a person needs is for someone to agree with them and say, “You know what, I get it. It sounds like that’s really tough.” Or, “I’ve been there too. Some things that worked for me are…” Even better, “Is there anything I can do to help?” Having an accountability partner works great for me, but I’m not going to expect anyone to invest their time into me. I need to make some decisions and sacrifices because if I truly want this change, then I’ll need to work for it. There are no more shortcuts or excuses, especially as I get older and further into my career. There are much different challenges than the ones facing 21-year-old me. Almost 5 years later and a lot has changed. I need to adapt and grow, but I also need to believe in myself.

I want to create the life that is going to make me genuinely happy. I want to be proud of that girl standing in the mirror because she overcame what a lot of people struggle with every day. But the difference this time is: I know I want to overcome it and keep overcoming it every day. I want to capture that strength and harness it all the time. I want to be in control of it. 💪🏼

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