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For a long time, I’ve been striving towards entirely pointless numbers. Let’s just put ‘em out there. The specific numbers I’ve held ideal are size 4 and 145 pounds.
Even though I’m a confident woman who knows deep down my self worth has nothing to do with those numbers, I’ve long strived for them. And I’ve achieved them many times. I’ve also strayed away from those numbers many times and felt like a failure for not being able to maintain my 4/145 ideal.
Before we go too far, I want to make clear this isn’t a piece about the extremes I’ve gone to in order to achieve thinness. Every time I’ve worn a size 4 or seen 145 on the scale, it’s been through the good old-fashioned way of exercise and eating better. All I’m saying is that in my brain, no matter how close or far from those numbers I realistically was, I held them on a pedestal.
But lately, those numbers have started to matter less and less. Maybe I’m just getting older, my metabolism is slowing down, and so I’m realizing there’s no way I will likely ever continue to reasonably hit those numbers. Sure, I could simply set new, more attainable goals. But I don’t feel like it.
I’m tired of pants sizes and target weights and everything I must do to achieve both. I don’t feel like counting calories to make sure I’ve eaten exactly or under 1,470 of them today. I don’t enjoy feeling badly about myself because the number I see on the scale is a few off my goal. Plus, I’ve realized that the only thing I really accomplished each and every time I’ve hit those numbers is the pure sense of accomplishment itself. Accomplishing something for the sake of accomplishing something is silly. That 4 and 145? They’re skin-and-bones numbers with no meat on them.
I’ve been playing the wrong numbers game and I’m ready to change.
In ditching those pointless numbers, I thought about how I wanted to reframe my goals. When I think about women I admire, it all comes down to strength. I envy women who kick ass on the weight floor and own their space as much as the guys do. In yoga, I’m jealous of women who can unwaveringly hold a handstand while I flop around just trying to get my legs over my head. In Workout Challenge, I look up to women who can knock out 10 perfect push-ups without sinking to their knees.
Some of those women might weigh 145 pounds. Some of them might be a size 4. But many — actually probably most — are not even close. Because muscles are heavy and also don’t squeeze into size 4 pants.
With that in mind, I’ve got new numbers in mind.
Unlike the last batch, if I can hit these numbers, it’ll mean something. It’ll mean that I’ll have put in the hard work and sweat to push myself a bit past what was possible before. It’ll mean that I’ll have gotten stronger. It’ll mean I’ll have accepted the challenge I set for myself. If I can hit these numbers, it’ll mean I can stand a bit straighter and prouder.
1: The number of pull-ups I’d like to do
30: The number of seconds I’d like to be able to hold a handstand
20: The set of dumbbells I’d like to shoulder press
Instead of a pointless goal weight, there’s an actual benefit in working towards these new numbers. And unlike the dreaded 4/145 combo, instead of less — eating less, weighing less, fitting into a smaller pants size — these numbers are all about more. More weight, more time, more strength. And unlike the old numbers, these will not stay the same forever and forever. Because one day, I’d like to set a goal of 2 pull-ups.
I won’t deny that the 4 and 145 are still there somewhere, looming, begging me to achieve them. But I hope as I set my sights on the new numbers, the old ones will eventually drop off. Maybe I’ll gain weight. Maybe I’ll go up a pants size. We’ll have to see how it goes. Wish me luck as I work towards a better, healthier and more worthwhile numbers game!
Betsy Mikel is a freelance copywriter whose passion is telling the stories of entrepreneurs, brands and businesses that challenge the status quo. When she’s not biking or running all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym | betsymikel.com
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