Whenever I hear that expression, 'no pain, no gain,' it's like fingernails on the chalkboard. Or, for those of you who grew up after slate chalkboards were obsolete, it would be like Carrie Underwood singing Led Zeppelin: it's just wrong. For me, there is something essentially wrong with the concept that pain is a prerequisite for good.
The idea that I must inflict pain upon my body in order to achieve a desired state of ideal shape and size just seems wrong. It reinforces punishment, and on a subconscious level, it drives home the idea that I am not worthy of anything good. Sorry, I don't accept that.
I am the first one to acknowledge that I have learned a lot from the painful experiences in my life. Don't get me wrong, because I am not saying that there is no 'wisdom born of pain,' another time-honored cliché. I am saying that pain is not the only way to learning and growth.
In fact, if we take it back to the literal, to body size and weight, the only times in my life when I have not gained weight and I was not actively dieting, have been the times I that I have been pain-free emotionally, mentally and physically. So in that sense, the phrase is true. Without pain, there has been no weight gain, and with pain, there has always been weight gain.
When I am nurturing myself emotionally by reinforcing my self-worth; when I am nurturing myself mentally by finding things to cause my mind to work in new and different ways; when I am nurturing myself physically by walking or swimming or exercising in some way; when I am nurturing myself spiritually through meditation, prayer and music; then I feel positive, energized and in balance. My body responds to feeling nurtured on every level and becomes healthier and more fit.
This is a happy process. The better I feel, the better I feel! No amount of self-inflicted pain has ever spurred me on. No amount of muscle-soreness, or gnawing hunger, or deprivation of any kind has been sustainable for me. It does not inspire me to keep going.
So I guess I have to stop cringing when I hear the expression. I have to remember that the original intent of the phrase is not the truth. The truth is that loving, nurturing, supporting and accepting are the ways to balance, in body, mind and spirit. Without pain, I do not gain weight. Without the pain of self-doubt and self-loathing, I am able stop the self-inflicted punishment of weight gain.
No pain, no gain. It's a motto I can live with!