I Called My Body a Piece of Shit During My Workout
This past Saturday, I completed my 4th ever 90-minute SoulCycle challenge. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a SoulCycle class that lasts an hour and a half. Straight through, no breaks. Intense would be an understatement.
I did my first Soul Challenge back in November, the day after Thanksgiving, and believe it or not I breezed through it. I did the next one on New Years Day, and that one was just as amazing. I actually remember thinking, “I could have stayed on that bike for another hour!” Go ahead, roll your eyes. I get it. The 3rd was a few weeks back to celebrate the anniversary of the SoulCycle Brooklyn Heights studio, and once again, magic. But my most recent one was a whole other story.
I need to be honest. This past month has been rough. I’m skirting the border of “moderation” and barely hanging on by a thread. I celebrated my birthday twice, two Saturdays in a row, and then went to see 2 concerts the following week. Dinners out, lots of drinks, little sleep, with the icing on the cake being a 4 day business trip to Atlanta, where I proceeded to wine and dine my way through the entire city. You can only imagine how I am feeling right now.
A few days off track for me is probably harder than it is for most. Especially since I have been working so hard on getting to a place where I feel healthy, fit, and confident. All of the scary thoughts have been running through my mind: “You’ve gained 3 pounds, which is now going to turn into 10! You know how this goes!” “You’ll never be able to get back into your groove.” “You worked so hard to get where you are and now you’ve ruined it forever.”
I know how absurd all of that sounds. I am completely aware of how untrue it all is. But it does not mean I’m not feeling it. However, despite feeling like a pre-Diabetic stuffed sausage, I landed back in New York last Monday and was on a SoulCycle bike within 12 hours. I rode Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday (the 90-minute which we’ll get into in a sec), and Sunday. That’s the equivalent of 6 classes in 6 days. That’s hard work. That’s dedication. So why did I call my body a piece of shit during my challenge on Saturday? I don’t know. But it has bothered me ever since it happened, and I want to talk about it.
The class started off just like any other. My instructor, Noa, has a great way of pacing us so we don’t burn off all our energy right away. I felt really good throughout the first 45 minutes. I made sure I slept well the night before, ate a power breakfast that morning, and hydrated. At about the 45 minute mark, though, I started to feel uncomfortable. Like, really uncomfortable. For starters, I was not on my usual bike, which sent my OCD-self into a bit of a spiral. The room was also super hot because the class was so full. As I grew more tired, I began to let all of those negative thoughts creep in. I felt the panic settle into my chest. My breath became harder to catch. I felt weak, which is not a feeling I’m ever okay with feeling. I felt myself falling out of pace with the rest of the class, and that’s when it happened.
I called my body a piece of shit.
Actually, it went more like this: “What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you getting tired? Let’s go, you piece of shit!”
Whoa. That’s some harsh self-talk, no? It freaked me out because truthfully, I have not spoken to myself like that in quite some time. So why was it happening now? How could I call my body a piece of shit when I was working so hard? Why didn’t I ever call my body a piece of shit when I was spending my entire Saturday at brunch drinking my body weight in mimosas? Why didn’t I ever call my body a piece of shit when I canceled my workout at the last minute and decided to lounge on the couch instead?
Why are we our harshest critics when we’re trying to change for the better?
I’ll tell you what I think – it’s fear. Fear of feeling something entirely different. Fear of reaching past that comfort zone. Fear of maybe, finally, changing.
The fact that I panicked on that bike is proof that something big was happening. It’s proof that no matter how shitty I felt after all those birthday parties and giant hotel breakfasts and mini bottles of wine on the plane, I still showed up. I showed up to be better. I showed up to be stronger. In the past, I would have just stayed in that spiral and kept eating and drinking and throwing in the towel (no pun intended). But it’s different now. I refuse to be defeated by my own boring demons. I refuse to let my weakness overpower my strength. And I sure as hell refuse to allow myself to treat myself the way I did on Saturday.
I woke up Sunday morning, determined to approach my next class with compassion. I was tired, and I reminded myself that all I had to do was show up, and do my best. There was no judgement, no competition. The fact that I was there was more than enough. And guess what? I rode better on Sunday than I have in weeks.
A funny thing happens when we start to intentionally speak to ourselves with love. When we take those few extra minutes to calm our nerves and to show ourselves some understanding. Think about the way we encourage children. Do we yell at them and tell them they suck? Do we bully them into succeeding? Of course not! We fill them up with love and support and tell them they can do anything. Don’t you think it’s time we start doing the same for ourselves?