*Note from Sarah: Here is a new and eye-opening post by Jason Seib. It all begins with loving who you are, inside and out. This post could have been written directly to me only 4 short years ago and not until I changed my goals and focus to obtaining good health rather than working towards obtaining some fantasy of what I wanted to see in the mirror was I able to switch to a more realistic and healthier perspective and learn to love and appreciate myself for who I am and not for what my ideal body image might be.
You Can’t Fix A Body You Hate
For those of you with purely aesthetic goals, you absolutely must understand that you are playing a game that you will only win if your head is in the right place. To put it more bluntly, (insert post title here). In all my experience, with all types of people at nearly every possible fitness level imaginable, I have yet to see even one person turn a body they hate into a body they love. To be honest, I don’t think it can be done. I am not saying people don’t end up appreciative of their gains, but many will never be satisfied with their bodies, even when they far exceed their original goals. You don’t want to be one of these people.
(Brace yourself, here comes some finger pointing.) If you have been on a thousand diets, lost 10 or 20 pounds more times than you can count, weigh yourself a minimum of once per day, can’t see yourself naked without disdain, and absolutely loathe clothes shopping, you probably won’t win this battle without some serious soul searching. Don’t get me wrong, you can certainly build a body that crushes others with envy, but you probably won’t see it. You already know people who are exactly who you will become. They have that amazing body that you wish you could have, and they are insecure about every inch of it. Of course, this is the extreme example, but any amount of this behavior saddens me. It’s so frustrating as a trainer to watch someone make unbelievable gains only to nitpick their bodies under a magnifying glass while the rest of the world admires their success in awe.
I have seen as much as 40 pounds of weight lost in only a few months go seemingly unnoticed by the person doing the losing. I have seen people become a primary source of inspiration for the new people in my gym, yet I have to walk on egg shells when I talk about their goals lest I bring them to tears. I have seen bodies evolve into absolute magnificence and remain as covered as tolerable on hot summer days. What is the point of all this? Why go to all the trouble of busting your ass in the gym and eating right if your goals are actually unattainable?
I’m asking nicely, please stop and think about these questions. What’s riding on this? What will you have when you get there? For that matter, how will you know when you are there?
My goals for you are all about health and the physical capacity to enjoy your life. I have come to understand that bodies that feel great and perform great usually look great by accident. But my goals for you don’t matter. So, health and performance aside, what do you think you would gain if your body looked exactly the way you see it in your dreams? Do you think you would be happy? Be honest now. In my opinion (and experience), if you are the type of person who spends a good portion of each day miserable because you hate your body, you will not reach a point where your body suddenly becomes a source of great pride.
I have theorized, but have no proof, that this might be how some people develop exercise addictions. Insecurities that run deeper than skin level are addressed by changing the body instead of changing the head. When this futile strategy doesn’t work the assumption is that more exercise must be the answer. If food takes the blame for low self esteem, the result might be decades of yo-yo dieting or, in drastic cases, an eating disorder.
Am I calling you out? Again, I don’t want to hurt your feelings. I just want you to win. So what should you do?
First off, love your body. It’s the only one you have and it’s actually a pretty amazing example of biological engineering, performing astonishing biochemical actions millions of times per day despite the fact that you don’t appreciate it. Get educated and treat it right.
DO NOT ALLOW ANYONE INTO YOUR LIFE WHO HARMFULLY CRITICIZES YOUR BODY! EVER! Life is too short to let assholes take anything from you, and your self worth is no exception.
And finally, change your goals. If you can force yourself to focus on your fitness capacity and health instead of the size of your thighs or belly, you will find that it is much easier to stay motivated and confident. Then one day you will wake up to a body you love, and the change will have happened while you weren’t paying attention.
I sincerely wish I could lay out a step by step plan that would guarantee you a new outlook, but sadly I can not. My hope is that you will catch yourself in depreciating thoughts and put things back into perspective. Being fit and healthy is awesome – don’t rob yourself of these things by dwelling on the stuff that will come naturally when your mind is right. And truth be told, it’s probably not too bad in that skin of yours.