A lot of weird things happen when you reach a new decade in your life.
For me, turning 30 a few years ago brought the following odd changes:
- Everywhere I turned, other people’s babies seemed to be making direct eye contact with me as if to say, “What’s that loud sound? Oh, it’s your biological clock.”
- I began staying up at night worrying about my personal finances, punching numbers into a calculator until I’d drift off to sleep. (I always hope my calculations will bring better results with each attempt, but they never do. Damn.)
- And the weirdest change of all: I started liking country music.
But another noticeable change as we enter a new decade in our lives is a change in our values. Suddenly, the motivations behind our actions reveal that we’ve matured — that we’re, I dunno… grown-ups or something.
Take the issue of weight loss, for example. In my 20′s I dieted and exercised in order to look more attractive. I had always hated my body type — short and stumpy with a pancake butt (depressingly flat and wide). And sometimes while in the shower I’d look down at the fat on my belly and talk to it as if it were my arch nemesis. “You’re disgusting. You won’t be around for much longer, you filthy slime!” I’d say to it in my best Dirty Harry voice too. Clint Eastwood would have been impressed.
Hell, even when I was an athletic and strong teenager (running 15-20 miles per week and doing one-handed pushups with ease), I wished I were thinner.
I used to diet and exercise in hopes that one day the world would approve of how I look. Nowadays, I run and eat my veggies because I love and respect myself enough to do so. There’s a big difference.
My cousin recently lost 20 lbs and is approaching a healthy weight for her height and age. As we spoke about the motivation behind our shared desire to be healthier, we discovered that we have the same goal: to be physically fit by the time we become pregnant with our first child.
Why get fit just before we get fat, you ask? Good question. It has to do with our new grown-up values and attitudes. We don’t need to be hot MILFs in bikinis one day — we want to be great moms with huge balls one day.
My cousin wants to be in the habit of eating healthily and staying active so that she is a good role model for her future children. She doesn’t want them to struggle with their weight like she has for most of her life.
And me? I want to be in the habit of loving my body no matter how it looks (and treating it accordingly). I want to model emotional and spiritual health for my children. I don’t want them to endure the pain of hating themselves, like I once did. I want them to know down deep in their bones that they were born and created out of Love, just as I was, and because of this, they are special, precious, and “good enough,” even in their imperfection.
I hope that by the time I’m a mother I will have evolved into someone great. I hope that I’ll be struggling less with the fear of rejection, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of being unattractive and unwanted. And I hope I’m a million light years away from doing crazy things like taking diet pills, obsessively counting calories, and threatening my belly flab with my best Dirty Harry voice.
But my hope is that everyone evolves into people who make health and fitness decisions out of Love, not fear. When we work hard for our health because we unconditionally love our bodies, we inspire others to do the same.
Make no mistake: fighting for your mental and physical health will take courage. It will take strength. It will take time. But you know what? We can do it. And more importantly, we’re meant to do it. We are designed to flow naturally in the direction of a Brave Life, just as a river flows into the sea.