One day while training a client, a powerful realization came over me. It happened in between sets of physio ball crunches. My client pulled up her shirt and said, “I hate my belly so much. I am going to do crunches until I stop hating it!!” Then she got on the physio ball and seemed possessed by a new level of motivation doing rep after rep and even squeezing in a rep after I told her to stop because her form was breaking.
Normally those words and her determined and strong will to keep crunching would have made me feel pleased and proud. “Look at my client, she is hardcore!” But my experienced trainer mind understood more deeply what was happening. “Wow, she really hates her body and herself” was how I saw things in that moment, and from then on, I UNDERSTOOD the true key to real and forever success in fitness. It HAD to be based and rooted in something other than self-hate. It had to be based on self-care or self-love.
Let’s take pause for a second and reflect. Why did you start working out in the first place? What initially motivated you to change your diet? If you are like most people, it was because you didn’t like what you saw in the mirror. You likely wanted to change how you looked physically because you did NOT want to look that way anymore. If this was and is you, don’t feel bad - in my experience this is what motivates most people. It’s also why most people eventually gain the weight back, lose their fitness, go back to eating terribly and fail. Why? Because NO ONE wants to hate themselves forever.
Think about the last time you started working out and then stopped or the last time you were on a roll with your diet and then went right back to old habits. I bet you said to yourself (or maybe even to friends) something along the lines of, “I just want to enjoy life…dieting and going to the gym isn’t enjoyable…life is too short, I’m over it.” Let’s break that down objectively and factually for a second. It’s been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that eating in a healthy way and being properly active improves physical health, emotional and mental health, gives you energy, improves sex drive and improves mood. Yet, you stopped trying to eat right and being active because “life is short” and “you just want to enjoy life?” How can that be? Being unhealthy is objectively NOT enjoying life to its fullest. It makes no sense, right? It does when you realize that eating right and exercising that are motivated from self-hate will ALWAYS feel like punishment precisely because you are using them to punish the person you hate, which is YOU.
What if, instead, you ate and exercised because you realized that you deserve to be healthy, vibrant and fit? What if you understood the truth, that those are amazing forms of SELF-CARE and SELF-LOVE? In my experience, this is the most impactful key to long term success. Who doesn’t like to take care of themselves?
Next time you look in the mirror, instead of confusing your body image with self-image, notice that your body simply reflects the lifestyle and circumstances of your life. It’s ok to notice that you may have a higher than ideal level of bodyfat or that you lack healthy levels of physical strength and fitness but those things do NOT define who you are. It just tells you that it may be time to take care of one of the most important people in the world, YOU.
A healthy and fit version of you feels better and makes it possible for you to do more for the people around you. A less than healthy version of you doesn’t feel great and doesn’t have the best capacity to do good for the people around you. You deserve to be taken care of and it starts with yourself. Understand this, move forward with it and be empathetic and kind to yourself through this process (it’s not easy) and your odds of true and forever success will skyrocket.