*Note from Sarah: Jason Seib is back with more goodness. His message is TRUTH. Enjoy.
I feel like maybe I have confused a few people in the past and I’d like to take a moment to clarify my position. As usual, I run the risk of ruffling a few feathers, but as usual, I’m going there anyway.
I’ve written a lot about aesthetic goals in the past (here, here, and in The Paleo Coach, for example) and the huge role that perspective plays in whether or not you will succeed. One thing I have never said, though, is that you should not want to look better or that you should just learn to love yourself the way you are. Why have I never said those things? Because they are none of my business and I don’t really care what you want. As a trainer/fitness and nutrition author/speaker, I don’t delude myself by believing that I have the power to make you want things. I only have the ability to show you how to get what you already want when you come to me. As such, I disagree wholeheartedly with the notion that everyone should simply settle in to their current bodies and stop wanting to look better. To say this another way, I absolutely agree with the “just love yourself” mantra, but I think the “just love yourself the way you are” mantra often becomes a “let’s band together and tell everyone we love ourselves the way we are even though we secretly wish we could change” mantra.
If you are comfortable in your skin, whatever you look like, I have utmost respect for you and I wish I could bottle what you have and sell it to the world. On the flip side, if you hate your body and will do anything to try to escape it, it will be very difficult for you to find any long term success. The intended message of my many aesthetic goal rantings lies somewhere in the middle and goes something like this:
1) If you want to improve the way you look, only a focus on improving health produces sustainable improvements in the way a body looks. Furthermore, physical attraction is really a display of good health, not some mysterious spell cast through unexplainable forces recognizable only by the human heart. If you want to look better, you need to get healthier. Period. I didn’t make the rules.
2) Getting healthier because you love your body and know it deserves to be treated well is very easy. Trying to change your body out of disdain for it will be nearly impossible and you probably won’t be able to clearly recognize your progress anyway. Like I have said many times before, when people who hate their bodies make massive improvements, they tend to whip out a magnifying glass and step closer to the mirror instead of reveling in their success.
The two points above are not my opinions, they are my experience. Here are a few of my opinions:
1) I want you to love your body enough to treat it right. This does not imply that I have an opinion about how it should look or how far you will take my advice. That’s your business.
2) I want you to have the confidence to pursue the the health and fitness goals that matter to you. Whatever it is that you want, you are worth it, so go get it.
3) I want you to stop listening to that ridiculous inner voice that might be stealing happiness from you. If you can tune it out, you may even be able to retrain it to say nicer things. That voice is not representative of reality. You are not the things that voice says you are.
Of course, this is not a comprehensive list of the perspective epiphanies I wish for you, but it’s a great place to start. However, I do not wish that you would teach yourself to accept things about your health and fitness that you can change if change would make you happier. I will not pretend that your goal to lose fat and look great in a bathing suit is somehow invalid. If this is something you want, just commit to getting there by healthy means and you have my full support.
Go forth and be awesome.