After I had my first child, my husband banished me from using the words "muffin top." And I thought, "Why can't I say muffin top? I have one! Can't you see it? I hate my muffin top!" But I am at heart a rule follower, so I did what he said and stopped using that phrase. And you know what? My muffin top didn't disappear overnight. It took months of Pilates (thank you Ab 5s and Side Sit Ups on the Reformer!) and focused eating. But by just stopping the negative self-talk, I think I made a significant change in my head for the better, which helped me work out in a more focused way.
And that's the reason I think negative talk just doesn't work. Sure, we all have conversations with ourselves in front of a mirror - I hate this, I hate that. But I don't think those conversations inspire us to change. I think they actually hurt our ability to change, because if you are so intrinsically flawed, why would you try? If the part of your waist that meets your jeans after having a baby (or just a few too many not-so-great food choices, or a hard genetic hand) makes you rename it something hideous, doesn't that take away your power to own your body? You've just separated yourself from a part of you that, like it or not, has carried you and helped you move (and yes, maybe expanded a bit from time to time). But it's not a muffin top, it's your waist. And your waist isn't even your waist (that's for another post). Your waist is an invention of the fashion industry to sell pants. You don't have a waist bone. You don't have a waist muscle. You have many muscles that connect your pelvis to your torso, so don't oversimplify the wonderful machine that is your body into one part you dislike.
I've written a lot about mantras here, so I'm a deep believer in self-talk. How we talk to our bodies, even in our heads, is important. And I'm sure as anything not going to be that Pilates teacher that tries to make you feel bad about your body to workout. Not only because it isn't kind, but because I don't think it helps. Do you really think you'll go deeper into your Powerhouse by renaming it after a high-fat pastry? No, you'll disconnect from it more. But a little bit of self-love goes a long way, especially when you're sitting on top of the Short Box in front of a mirror and see your thighs squoosh out to the sides. Yes, I've finally written about the Pilates exercise we all hate to see ourselves do.
So, here are your two choices:
1. Wow, I hate my thighs. Look at how big they are. I shouldn't have eaten/drank that.
2. Hmm. I think I'm losing my seat. Maybe I should pinch/perch.
Guess what? Number 2 is always the better choice (because it works!) Through the eyes of a skilled teacher, none of our bodies are flawed. They are just still evolving. And we need to be that guide for ourselves, too. See something that's not right? You probably need to change how you are performing the exercise, not how your body is put together.
So, that's why I don't want to hear about how much you hate your butt, or your thighs, or arms. Sure, we all want to grow and change and shape our bodies, but let's choose the path of least resistance, shall we? It's simple, just correct to the positive.