Practicing what we preach isn’t easy, just ask a dancer for Lizzo

Sundays are laundry days. This means I also tend to binge-watch TV on Sundays. This month, we’ve been gone most weekends. It’s summer in Montana, after all. But, this past Sunday we were home with a giant pile of laundry waiting. I wanted to watch something frivolous while doing it, and I picked Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls. It was exactly what I expected except for one thing: I didn’t think I’d be writing a post about it. I mean, this was supposed to be my rest from productivity. But, here I am. And here’s why: there is a life lesson with one of the contestants on the show that I think is worthy of all of us exploring. It’s one thing to share wisdom, advice, and guidance; it’s a whole other thing to embrace it for ourselves. Practicing what we preach isn’t easy.

Lizzo’s message

I love Lizzo. If you’ve never listened to her music, please do. It’s empowering and beautiful and badass and fun. Lizzo works hard and her mission truly is to empower people of all shapes and sizes to love their bodies as they are. A recent experience on Instagram brought home just how difficult it is for larger women to be on the internet. 

Screenshot of a fat-shaming comment on Cascadin's Instagram account, which may have lead to Alyson needing to watch a show about body positivity and write about a blog about why practicing what we preach isn't easy.

This was in response to a reel I shared about having bad days and pushing back against the toxic productivity that says we can’t have those afternoons on the couch. It was the first time I’ve been fat-shamed online and, for the most part, I haven’t thought about it much. But, it sits there, somewhere in the back of my mind. And I haven’t done another reel like it since. I will, but I wonder if this comment is why I haven’t.

(And, to be fair, I think it’s hard to be a woman on the internet – no matter your size.) 

I’ve had Lizzo’s TV show on my radar for months, and I finally remembered to watch it this weekend. I’m so glad I did. It’s a reality TV show, which I typically avoid. But, it also has such a body positivity message that I needed to watch it for my own empowerment. There was just enough contestant drama (whether real or engineered is a question) but not so much that I wanted to turn it off. I loved the women, I loved the dancing, and I loved Lizzo’s message. 

And then there is Sydney

Sydney Bell is one of the contestants on the show. The show starts with auditions for Lizzo, and when Sydney walks through the door, Lizzo is excited. She knows who Sydney is through TikTok and exclaims that she sees Sydney on her ‘for you page’ often. I looked up Sydney’s TikTok, and it’s excellent and exactly what I expected. Her bio includes the phrase ‘self-love’ and she talks about it in the show. She begins the show as one of the strongest dancers. Yet, by the end of the season, she isn’t picked to join Lizzo’s tour. 

Why? Because she didn’t listen to the wisdom she shares with others. She wasn’t practicing what she preaches. Which isn’t unusual. 

Some days, we’re all Sydneys

I clearly could keep writing about this show, but here’s the connection I made to productivity and the anti-hustle mindset. Sydney knew all the mantras, all the self-love, self-care, confidence-building things that you and I want to internalize and embrace wholeheartedly. In describing her Lizzo audition, she says “I’m going to bring all of Sydney to the stage. I’m going to leave all of Sydney on the stage.” Lizzo was thoroughly impressed. 

By the end of the season, though, Sydney struggled to perform at the same level as everyone else. According to my interpretation of the show, Sydney got into “her head” too much. She faced the challenge we do all sometimes, that practicing what we preach isn’t easy.

(Sydney also might have been concussed towards the end of the show, so that could have been part of it. It remains unclear to me if that was a factor.)

This is how Sydney described what happened in her bad rehearsal in episode 7:

“I feel like I always have to be perfect. I feel like I always have to perform…I don’t want to always seem like I’m weak.”

Sydney Bell, Good as Hell episode 8 of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

Whew…do I relate to that. 

Tanisha Scott, Lizzo’s choreographer, responded beautifully after Sydney said this, telling her how we can’t be perfect and that it puts too much pressure on ourselves. I wonder if Tanisha has difficulty accepting her words of wisdom for herself because, as I keep saying, practicing what we preach isn’t easy. 

Sometimes it’s easier to preach than practice

This is the trap I fall into a lot. In talking with my therapist and friends, I’ve said that I need to practice what I preach about productivity. And it’s true, I do. 

  • I have a habit of taking on more than I should at any given time. 
    • Hello #DoLessBetter. 🤦🏻‍♀️
  • I still try to multitask even though I know I’m not productive. 
    • Goodbye focus. 😳
  • My top ten list of things to focus on and ignore everything else, based on Oliver Burkeman’s tactical advice in Four Thousand Weeks? Yep, I completely ignore those ten things and work on everything else that isn’t my priority. 
    • What’s prioritization again? 😬

So why do we struggle to put into practice the things that we know will help us? Why is practicing what we preach so hard?

Because you and I are human, and we will never be perfect. 

That doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying. Or learning from the journey. 

It’s a journey practicing what we preach

I don’t know what Sydney is doing now. I think she did become a dancer for Lizzo, even if she isn’t touring full-time. Sydney is succeeding and doing what she loves. And I hope she is talking about her experience and what she learned.

Whatever she is doing on her journey, I hope she is happy and healthy and embracing her imperfection. Because it’s beautiful and so is she.

Anti-hustle productivity is a journey. One that I’m on, which means that I’m not succeeding in the sense of “being perfect.” I am, however, learning and growing and figuring it out. I’ll keep trying to practice what I preach, even if I don’t always succeed.

So, if you’re on this journey too, remember that it’s okay to be human. It’s okay to not always practice what you know to be helpful. It’s okay to be you, in all your imperfection. 

Because no matter what:

You’re a star

In episode 8, at the end of the conversation between Sydney, Lizzo, and Tanisha, Lizzo says to Sydney:

“You’re a star, not because of what you do but because of who you are.”

Lizzo, Good as Hell episode 8 of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls

If that isn’t the anti-hustle mindset, I don’t know what is. So, remember, you are a star. 

You are doing great. 

You’ve got this. 

Practicing what we preach isn't easy, but remember, according to Lizzo "You're a star not because of what you do but because of who you are." Black and white image of Lizzo singing.
Andrew Moran Photo ©2016

Alyson Roberts

Co-Founder & CEO

Known for organizing the dirty dishes before cleaning them, Alyson is learning how to do less, better and helping others do the same. She loves exploring beautiful lands near and far, trying new recipes, aspiring to be the next Star Baker, growing her garden, and avoiding board games at all cost.

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