It’s time to talk about gentle: gentle is the new perfect.
Gentle is the New Perfect
This episode of the Feel Good Effect is all about the gentle-wellness revolution, a movement about flipping the script from comparison, all-or-nothing, and perfectionism thinking, to a gentle mindset.
Listen in to learn about how to grab onto gentle and make it your own.It’s time to talk about gentle.
Gentle is the new perfect.
I’m so glad you’re here for this last episode of 2018!
First up, I just want to thank you for giving up this time for yourself, whether you are a brand new listener or you come back every week– thank you for being a part of this community, part of this conversation, and part of this movement about what it really means to be healthy.
I love this time of year.
It’s such a great time to reflect back on the year that has gone by and regroup to look ahead at the next year.
And in doing so, I really wanted to take a moment to talk about gentle: more specifically, the gentle-wellness revolution.
I’m going to tell you the story of how gentle even came to be in my own life, and how it grew into a movement that is this podcast, that is Real Food Whole Life, and that is you as part of this community.
I also want to give you a few things to think about if you’re trying to decide if you’re going to set a resolution, or set intention through one little word (listen to last week’s episode with Ali Edwards about this idea!), or how you’re wanting to focus your energy and intention as we head into this brand new year.
This is an awesome episode if you’re listening in real time and have some time to think ahead, but even if you’re listening to it in the future, you always have the opportunity to reset.
“We don’t have to wait for a new year. We don’t have to wait for Monday. Every single day is a chance to make a choice to show up in a different way and to embrace this idea of gentle”.
This episode is brought to you by our Wellness Personality Guide, which is a freebie that we’ve put together for the community to really help you understand who you are and how you operate when it comes to wellness.
Check it out here, and be on the lookout for the revised version coming your way in 2019!
On how the gentle movement began:
Gentle is something that we talk about all the time on this show; it’s infused throughout the work on Real Food Whole Life, and it comes up so often in conversation with guests who are in the wellness space when we talk about what it really means to be healthy.
It’s also an approach and a lifestyle that has changed the way that I am in the world.
It’s changed my life, and I know for many of you it has as well.
So, I want to take you back and tell you the story of how gentle came to be.
Going back to growing up, high-school and even college, I was an athlete and a student.
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t a naturally gifted athlete or even a gifted student, but I worked really hard.
I learned how to strive to be my best, how to accomplish, and how to push through when things got really hard.
And I developed this mentality of pushing and striving, of always trying to be better, of trying to reach perfection.
Over the years I learned something: that striving, pushing through, comparison, and perfection can actually lead to success.
That was kind of my status quo through my early career.
There’s such a pressure to strive to accomplish, and it really can lead to success.
But I can really say: it works until it doesn’t work.
Another habit I picked up along the way, was to add things to my plate without taking anything off.
So, I went through my 20’s and into my 30’s continuing to collect things– I collected a full time job, and then I added more hours to that, and then I decided to add school, and then we tried to have a baby for many years without success until finally we were able to have my daughter.
And as a brand new mom, I was exhausted.
I felt like I was trying to fit into a box of impossible standards.
I felt like I was trying to do it all: work, school, family, be a good wife, be a good friend.
And I found myself applying the same mindset of pushing and striving and comparison that had always worked, but it didn’t work anymore.
Eventually everything came crashing down.
I remember standing in our living room, crying, looking at my husband, saying, “I can’t do this. I don’t know what to do. I think everyone else knows how to do this; I’m the only one who can’t figure this out”
And he looked at me and said that this isn’t what we had in mind for our life when we decided to commit to each other and be married; this wasn’t the picture that we had in mind.
I knew he was right, and I knew this was not how I wanted to live my life, but I didn’t know what to do.
I kept applying the same mindset and strategies around pushing, accomplishing, striving, and perfectionism, which led to the inevitable– I crashed and burned hard.
I got really sick, developing an autoimmune disease (which I think would have happened anyway, but certainly came to the surface at this particular time), and became so sick I really couldn’t even function.
I realized I was going to have to give up quite a few things in order to be able to recenter and refocus.
This is the point in the story when so many people quit their job, or quit school, or opt out of society, slow their life down, and then find happiness.
However, that is not how it went for me.
I will say, the wake up call did help me realize that I needed to take a few things off my plate, so I switched jobs (from 60-hours a week to something more in the 40’s with a little more flexibility and calm), I put a hold on school while we tried to figure out how we were going to take care of an infant and continue to work.
What I did next was kind of predictable, but I didn’t realize it at the time– I took the same approach of all-or-nothing and I applied it to wellness.
I dove in head first.
I was committed: I was going to work out six to seven days a week for an hour, I was going to meal plan and meal prep perfectly, and at the time, this is what wellness meant to me.
I looked around and compared myself to other people in the wellness space and decided that’s what wellness looked like.
I honestly believed that if I just tried a little harder and found more hours in the day, it would work and I would feel better, I would be happier, things would align, and I would find the path to wellness.
And this worked… until it didn’t.
I definitely felt better and was healthier.
Switching my meals to real foods and moving my body did matter and did make a difference.
But it was a short-term fix.
The other thing that happened at this time was that I lost weight– my new way of eating and new extreme exercise routine worked, but the way I was exercising wasn’t sustainable.
After about a year and a half I looked around and yes, I felt better, I was healthier, I had lost weight, but I was also exhausted, totally burnt out, I felt like I was the only one struggling, and I realized I had done exactly the same thing again.
So this was me: trying to do it all, feeling like somehow I was always falling short, taking care of everyone else but struggling to fit myself into the equation, and always falling into that never-ending, upwards spiral to do it all, have it all, and be it all.
But then I finally realized something.
“When it comes to wellness maybe I’m not doing it wrong. And when it comes to wellness, maybe you’re not doing it wrong”.
Seriously. Let that sink in.
I get it, we have big ideas about what wellness looks like, but when it comes to making it work in real life it just simply feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.
Here’s the thing: this all-or-nothing, perfection chasing, “everyone else has the answers” mentality just doesn’t work.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healthy”.
There’s a different, better way that starts with you.
I realized that we needed to flip the wellness script to change the way I actually thought and what I thought was possible.
Way less self-help, and a lot more self-trust.
It was from this place that the gentle movement was born.
I believe it’s a movement, a revolution, that involves less striving, less falling short, less never enough.
It allows us to use gentle as the north star.
On how embracing gentle does not mean losing drive:
I know this is a fear that many of you have shared with me, that embracing gentle will mean losing your drive.
And that without striving, perfectionism, comparison, and all-or-nothing thinking, you will fail.
And trust me– I get it!
I held so tightly to those things thinking that was the only way to success.
Maybe you’ve even had success in this mindset, like I did.
But then life changes and you find that this extreme approach just doesn’t translate to the sustainable life that you want to live.
Gentle doesn’t mean easy, it’s not the easy way out.
It doesn’t mean going soft, giving up, or throwing in the towel.
“Gentle is about persistence, and purpose, and incremental change”.
But gentle does mean simple.
It means making the wisest possible investment about time and energy that will impact your wellbeing.
When I finally realized that there was this complete other way of approaching wellness that didn’t require changing who I am, or giving up on my big dreams and goals, or require me living a different life, it was my lightbulb moment.
The more I released the grip on perfectionism and comparison and all-or-nothing thinking, the more I found this third way of using gentle as my north star.
Coming at it from a place of compassion and kindness for myself.
Coming at it from a place of reframing balance in more of the idea of equilibrium and not trying to do everything all at one time.
And understanding that rules can be helpful and also that flexibility is sometimes required.
And really, truly ditching comparison once and for all, by understanding what works for me, and embracing that.
And by jumping off the off-again-on-again, all-or-nothing wagon, and knowing that each day brings a new opportunity.
And that knowing that these small choices and changes add up to a life well lived.
This is how I simplified and lifted the burden of always striving off my shoulders.
I’ve settled into a life in the middle– the extremes might be more enticing, but the middle feels really good.
And I know that the middle works and it’s more sustainable.
On applying gentle to your life, for your goals:
Some of you have asked me really specific questions about how to apply the gentle approach to weight loss.
I do think that we can approach something like weight loss from a place of self-love and gentle and still make changes.
Maybe you have other big goals outside of weight related to wellness, whether that be related to eating well, to movement, to mindfulness.
And the gentle approach can be applied to those goals so that you can really fit it in your life to make changes.
This is your “start here” moment.
If you’ve been on the fence or played around with the idea of gentle, if you have gone through these episodes from the last two years or if this is your first time hearing about it, this is an invitation to start here.
“Grab onto gentle and make it your own”.
And, guys, this is science-based; it’s not feel good woo-woo stuff I’m just putting out there so that you feel good.
There is so much evidence that embracing this kind of approach and this way of thinking will not only help you step out of those barriers, but it is also actually highly linked with well-being and wellness.
On what’s coming in the new year:
We have so many more tactical shows planned for 2019 around gentle, and really applying it to some of those challenges that you have mentioned to me.
If you have others that you want to share, you can pop over to my Instagram @realfoodwholelife and share with me in comments or shoot me a DM, you can always email me, or you can join our Facebook group.
Share with me how you want to apply gentle and what you want to work through, and we will make that a focus of 2019 going forward.
If you listened to last week’s episode, and you want your one little word to be “gentle”, let’s do it.
If you want “gentle” to be your word and you want a tribe or a community, I am here for you to support you and live the example and make this visible for you throughout the next year.
But regardless of what you’re called to, I want to give you these tools, mindsets, and tactics so that you can take whatever you’re working on and really infuse it with these ideas and practices so that you’re more successful and so that the whole process is more enjoyable.
We don’t want to miss our lives trying to get somewhere else.
I want to leave you with a gift today– a gift of flipping the script, of saying no thank you to extremes, of knowing that you’re version of healthy can be exactly right because it’s what works for you, the gift of releasing perfectionism and comparison, and the gift of getting on a path of true wellness or what it really means to be healthy.
That’s what I want to leave you with today.
There’s no sales pitch– this is truly about the mission and the movement, and I’m so glad that you are all here for it.
Episode 70: One Little Word, with Ali Edwards
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