Mourning the Loss of Your Fit-self

by Marianne  - September 19, 2017

Yesterday I wrote some thoughts out on Facebook which I thought might be worth fleshing out a bit.

In recent months, I’ve heard quite a few others talking about how fitness no longer comes easy. It feels much more like a chore than it used to, but there’s a regret or a sadness about that loss. Like it was a trap they never wanted to find themselves caught by.

They often mention that they used to be fitter, leaner, and training used to be fun.

As a result you spend your energy comparing yourself with your old self, and with others who have the enthusiasm you once did. It feels horrible. You wish you could go back and do something differently so you didn’t end up down the road you’re on now.

You’re also torn: you recognise the challenges you’ve dealt with that knocked you out of your stride, and you see the pattern you’re in has to do with other priorities taking up the energy you used to give to training. You got sick, you lost someone, you had to work longer or irregular hours, you had a baby. Yet somehow those feelings of regret still linger.

What you’re feeling is shame.

You feel like how you look tells the world something about you. If you look amazing, you carry more armour to shield you from being looked down on, or shamed for “not caring about yourself”. You know, because fitness and appearance are two true measures of a persons value. HA! Well they have kind of become that.

And you’ve drank the Koolade, too. Yet you resent it.

This is the point when I get intrigued. We are in conflict with ourselves.

You scream from inside your less fit self “I’m still worth something”. But you’re turned the other way, still looking back in time, longing for the day when you can “look the part” again.

That’s what I’ve wrestled with for the last 3 years. I looked the part, I did badass things, and it gave me a false sense of my own value. In fact, my whole life the majority of things I’ve heard are about how I look. And I bought it. I think being married to Jonathan has helped me see myself as more than face or a body, because he loves my soul. But there has still been times (usually when I’m feeling down and lost) that I’ve craved approval for looking fit and being a badass. It usually manifests as harsh criticism for NOT looking “that way” anymore.

I’ve come to an understanding with myself. It hasn’t been easy, and lots of inner discussions went on as I figured out this stuff. But it boiled down to one way of thinking being destructive, and misaligned with my values, and the other way of thinking is kind, fair, and aligned with my true values. It’s not only constructive to myself, but totally consistent with the encouragement, and kindness I show others.

What I’ve learned is the power of forgiveness.

There is no greater power than that. It fuels courage, compassion, and peace. It allows you to be unburdened and more present. It helps you focus outward and reconnect with humanity; with others’,  because you’ve made peace with your own.

Life isn’t about enjoying everything all the time. Life isn’t about linear progress, or reaching perfection. And your value is not dependent on your looks, your job, your bank balance, your friends list, or even how morally good people think you are. Unfortunately this is so counter-intuitive it seems like a fairytale. Sure you can increase your human capital, but deep down we all sense there is more to humanity than that. For me, I believe everyone’s soul holds equal value to God. So much so that His greatest weapon against all that stands between us is forgiveness.

The more you can forgive your own deficits, the less you feel owed, and the wider your wings will spread. The less you get held back by shame, the more you can reach others.

The mistake we make is thinking “the way” is back to some idealized moment in time, not realising the game we’re still playing. We still buy that our happiness is tied to regaining what we think we lost, or getting something we lack.

But what if “the way” is simply allowing yourself to go forward despite what you perceive you’re lacking.

You’re owed nothing because you have everything I need.


But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9



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  1. Hi Marianne, I’ve been following and reading all your input for a long time. You taught me how to swing a KB when they were not even in Aus. This post really resonated with me. I miss being a machine, a badass, a beast. I really miss my freaky strength, it’s like I’ve lost a good friend, weird I know but I guess that was my identity. These days it’s all about maintenance and maintaining a level of strength that makes me feel better. Fitness and training are tools to keep my spine and joints in alignment not the look in the mirror or even the feeling of my clothes. It s very hard somedays when people who knew me as I used to be and reference that all the time, all well meaning but not realising my inner turmoil, I feel like screaming move on – I have. Ive accepted that I’m older, carrying a lot of injuries that rear their ugly heads constantly, and there are a lot of things, exercises that I can’t do anymore but there are a lot that I can, I now think outside the box and feel like I’ve found my creative training self 🙂 I wouldn’t change my past training history, but sometimes wish I hadn’t been so ‘hard core’ about it.

    1. I can imagine it’s very hard to keep hearing about your past self, since it likely reinforces the social belief that we are only a body whose purpose is to look a certain way and be able to do impressive things. I personally think that your body, and your mind and soul, are doing a harder job now because you have greater challenges physically. To power through and see yourself as whole even without being your former “fitter” self shows way more strength.

      People keep commenting on some of my facebook posts for me “not to worry” because I’ll “get back to it” some day. I reckon my message has been lost on them because I’m not trying to get back to anything, I’m just being as I am now. Sigh.

  2. Marianne this post resonated so much in me – at the end of last year I was diagnosed with cancer which leaded to major surgery and then chemo. Prior to my diagnosis I was fit and felt healthy so this was like a bombshell that landed in my life. Although my positive approach has beaten this terrible disease and I am now in remission since last month I have been grieving for my former fitter self. I know I am changed as a person and the old me will never return – but I am hoping that the new me will be a better upgraded version- not physically but mentally and emotionally as well. I need to be kinder to myself and go with what ever is planned out for me rather than resisting the changes that have occurred. I can’t bring back the past but I can move on to a better, brighter hopefully healthier future and may in time even pick up my kettle bell again!! Thank you for your post.

    1. Oh my goodness!! I’m so sorry you had such a challenge to your health and sense of self. Being left with a “new me” is a journey of acceptance as you let go of the old you. I truly wish you all health and joy as you discover all the new depth within yourself. HUGS

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this Marianne. This is exactly the struggle I’m going through right now, although my lack of training is due to injury. I mostly see it as a positive, in that every obstacle I face gets to potential help my clients. And as much as intellectually I know that I am more than how I look, there are still moments of shame and sorrow. Not working for a commercial gym any more helps. I’ve noticed that people don’t comment on how I look every day now and that’s refreshing in and of itself. More people need to speak these words publicly Marianne, so that eventually they will sink into the core of who we are and banish the inner turmoil. Thanks again for sharing, you always have impeccable timing 🙂

    1. I’ve also been battling back from injury (abdominal surgery) over the last couple of years. I can totally relate to the notion of using my layoff and return to exercise as a learning experience to help me better understand my clients. Cheers!

  4. All I can write is that you had to have been writing under guidance of the Holy Spirit. Beautiful post. It cut right through to all I’ve been feeling personally as I left my parent’s home, graduated college, started working, lost my “fit bod” because my time went to God/work/my now-fiance (who also only loves my soul, thank goodness!) and is now unexpectedly but happily unemployed. You nailed it, that tempest of emotion and thought we go through as a result of going against societal grain. I’m so grateful someone as wise as you are put this into words, Marianne. Thank you.

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