Does being lean lead to happiness?
Does being lean lead to happiness? Reflecting on something I wrote two years ago — What does lean mean to me?
If I woke up and was at my ideal physical appearance; lean and muscular but with a petite and feminine feel; would I be happy? For sake of this, let’s call that look lean.
If I magically turned lean overnight would I be happy? Immediately I’d say fuck yeah! I’d walk around in my undies all day. I’d look down at my flat midsection and then give a quick cough and BOOM check out those abs under there! I’d feel more confident in my profession. I’d wear more flattering clothes to show off my arms.
If I got that lean look back, would I really be happy?? Let’s look. What aspects of being lean DID make me happy?
It is the person I am daily; my thoughts, my actions, my attitude, my effort, my mood, my confidence, my creativity, my compassion, my ability to adapt. It is the PROCESS of being lean that I value. It is THAT person that I miss. Being lean is the side effect of being the best version of myself.
What does lean me signify?
→ Muscle definition is the result of being dedicated to the gym.
o This is meaningful because I enjoy being strong; I enjoy the process of weightlifting. Setting a schedule and sticking to it. The gym is non-negotiable. It has nothing to do with calorie burn. Hoping on an elliptical and watching the calories tick away and equating that to food sounds miserable and isn’t where I am (meaning that is what I used to do). It is about being strong so that I can handle whatever life throws my way (physically and metaphorically). It is a place where I am happy and feel good. It is a place where people celebrate other’s achievements. It isn’t a competition. It isn’t a zero-sum game. If the woman next me to is lifting more, that’s freaking awesome and I’m going to tell her that.
→ Low body fat to show muscles is a result of disciplined nutrition.
o This is the big one. It is about having a plan and having the confidence to execute it. When the self-doubt and negative talk rises, it is being able to muffle that voice and prove to yourself that you can do it. It is when anxiety creeps in and you’re nervous that you’re not doing something right and being able to say, “fuck you anxiety, I will not calm you with food”. It is when your kid is having a tantrum in the store and realizing that there are things in life that you can’t control and to be okay with that. It is having that confidence to say no and to sit with those feelings and be okay. It is making friends with slight hunger and realizing that it is okay. It is okay to feel hunger at times and it is not an emergency.
→ Wearing clothes with confidence
o It is so freeing to pick an outfit because you like how the outfit looks, not how it looks on you. Which shirt do I look least fat in? That’s no fun. It was so much fun to pick out clothes because you liked the color or the style and not worry about how it fit, because when I was lean, everything fit right (for the most part!). I enjoyed the excitement of that occasional time I’d go out and would have to dress up. I’d be excited to wear a tank top and show off my arms.
o Maybe part of it is vanity, maybe part is hard-wired as wanting to be important in the tribe to be relevant, maybe it’s just a nice dopamine boost to receive a compliment. Whatever it is; it is there. It isn’t just the compliment though. “I wish I could look like you” or “I don’t know how you find time to workout”. First is realizing that 95% of most compliments someone gives you is likely a reflection of themselves and their insecurities. To hear those compliments, I take that as celebration of my character and NOT my looks. “I wish I could look like you”. When someone says that, I interpret it as “I wish I had the disciple, hard work ethic, positive attitude, and grit that you have”. That is what I thrive on. Not recognition of my physical self, but of my character. My character hasn’t changed and I am still the same caring, compassionate, creative person; but it is just hidden behind self-doubt and a layer of fluff.
Right now, that is missing. I could label it as depression, which is so broad and honestly, no one really questions it. There could be parts of this that are hormonal; my body still feels out of whack after breastfeeding for two years. I don’t want to just slap a label on it because then it feels like a crutch or an excuse. Identifying what has changed is the first part, but my true work is working through that and regaining my spark. I am a dull version of myself right now. That spark is muffled but anyone would be a fool to think I can’t get that back.
What does lean mean to me? Getting that spark back. Regaining the confidence to do what it takes to get there. It is learning to pause and appreciate life. It is standing up for myself and my needs. It is learning to set boundaries and actually honor them. It is allowing myself grace and being proud of myself and my work. It is being who I needed when I was younger.