Sayonara-ing the Destructive *Should* Word.

This is a guest post by Alicia Benjamin, who is a passionate storyteller and fitness enthusiast who believes in clean eating. She tells stories of people living #FitClean. Read on for details about how you could get a $100 Whole Foods gift card for saying Thank You to your Fitness Inspiration.

This year, I finally did it. I struck “should” from my vocabulary. It’s a dangerous word, that one.

In its place are “want to” and “am looking forward to.”

tat feet Sayonara ing the Destructive *Should* Word.

Now, every time I get ready to run, hike or go to CrossFit, I remember how much of a privilege it is to do so.

This former couch potato used to think and say “should” a lot. Like every day, all day. It created such a mess in my life. Such guilt and low self-esteem. Even during my weight-loss journey, that word haunted me. And while it worked for a while to get my overweight behind to the gym, “should” blackened what could have been a very positive experience: learning to love fitness, discovering the amazing benefits of clean eating.

(Keep reading to learn about #FitClean Forward Gratitude!)

“Should” creates an self-image that doesn’t serve us; it harms us. We begin to think we have to do something — out of fear or obligation — when, in fact, we’re missing the point. To move more, to be active, to play — that is essential to human happiness. To eat healthy, to choose plants over preservatives — that is essential to optimal health.

photo 261 Sayonara ing the Destructive *Should* Word.

On top of Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colorado, with friends and fellow CrossFitters Sherial and Kit who inspire me to live healthfully.

Instead of thinking, “I should go workout,” I am now thinking, “I get to be active; I get to go play.” When you take the obligation away, you’re really left with a privilege. The privilege to be active, the privilege to choose healthier foods, the privilege to have such luxury choices every day.

And in terms of food, “should not” is dangerous too. Let’s stop should-notting ourselves and instead swap those words for something more empowering: choosing not to eat that second slice of pie, choosing not to be okay with negative self-talk, and choosing not to be defined by our weight, our history, or our excuses. Sometimes saying no — or “not” — is the same as saying yes. Yes to what will serve us, yes to what we value, and yes to activities (and people!) that add more vitality and love to our lives.

When you eat good, you feel good. When you find activities you enjoy — like CrossFit, dancing, cycling, frisbee in the park — you get the chance to play more.

photo 271 Sayonara ing the Destructive *Should* Word.

I reached a new one-rep deadlift record in November (205lbs!) because I believed I COULD. Believe it = achieve it.

Choosing to live FitClean

I believe in living FitClean. It’s really a lifestyle choice: being both physically active and choosing to eat real, unprocessed foods to create the healthy and happy lives we deserve.

I wasn’t always active. Nor did I eat healthfully. It wasn’t until I put the two together just this year that I finally saw both as a privilege (not a should-do). Talk about an ah-ha: To live well is to treat ourselves well in all aspects, especially mentally and emotionally. “Should” can hold us back from discovering new passions and interests; it can make us feel smaller, less than, not worthy enough.

By saying sayonara to “should,” I no longer let un-serving or unrealistic expectations control me: I should want to run another half marathon … I should work out every day (or else I’m lazy!) … I should be like this blogger or that runner, always happy and hitting the gym or open road at 6 a.m. …

Who wants to live with that person, always demanding more? Not me.

Comparison is “should” in disguise. Instead of comparing myself to the activities of others (or to their progress vs. my own — it’s not a competition!), I choose to be inspired by them. Social media has brought us together as a wellness community, not to jockey for the ultimate fitness pedestal but to support each other in our own personal journeys, no matter what those journeys look like or where they take us as individuals. Your story, my story — they’re unique and deserve to be celebrated as such.

Acknowledge all of your small victories.

They will eventually add up to something great.

—Kara Goucher

Being inspired by others to live well

With #FitClean Forward Gratitude, I encourage you to say Thank You to a Fitness Inspiration blogger who has inspired and motivated you to live more healthfully this year. It’s a chance for you to blog an open letter or write an appreciation post paying forward gratitude for someone online that’s inspired you to live a lifestyle of clean eating and fitness.

Made possible by Uncle Sam cereal, #FitClean Forward Gratitude runs from November 18th to December 20th. (Click the link above for details. One blogger will receive a $100 Whole Foods gift card. Get to bloggin’ as there’s only 7 days left! Be sure to use the hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! Official rules can be found here.)

As we look forward to 2014, I encourage you to also — as you give thanks — to say adios to the should’s and should not’s in your lexicon.

Imagine what you could accomplish next year with your want-to’s, choose-to’s and privledged-to-do’s!

How are you choosing to live FitClean?

Alicia Colorado 300x300 Sayonara ing the Destructive *Should* Word.

A runner and CrossFitter, Alicia currently oversees Attune Food’s #FitClean campaign, helping bloggers and fitness enthusiasts tell stories about how fitness and clean eating go hand-in-hand.  Alicia is the owner of RIZE, the Boulder-based WELL+FIT marketing studio that created rizebox, the running kit specifically for women. Alicia started RUNspiration on Facebook and Twitter in January of 2012 to help her stay inspired and motivated to train for and run her first half marathon, which she completed on her little sister’s birthday (Nov. 4, 2012).

Connect with Alicia:

Twitter: @leximaven

Instagram: leximaven

Pinterest: leximaven




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  1. says

    Miz and Alicia

    THanks for sharing this as I really (really) struggle with the SHOULDs and MUSTs. I spend much of my time wallowing in guilt and apathy.

    I am yet to climb my way out of the deep pit I’ve found myself in – but at least I recognise that it’s a terrible habit I need to overcome!


  2. cheryl says

    I have been using “get to” since I started working full time with a family and became a single mom. It was over 26 years ago but I am still in that mindset. Especially since I turned 60 and I see so many of my co-workers who can’t for various health/weight/psychological reasons. Glad I changed my “head” a long time ago!