Trainer Cassey Ho, owner of Blogilates, created this video to show that, even as a fitness instructor, no one is immune to body shaming and the “perfect” ideal.
This is something I personally struggle with, even still. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a difficult relationship with my body. Growing up, binge eating was a part of our everyday lives. I’d eat dinner at night only to follow it up with 3/4 to a whole can of Pringles, some cookie dough, a half a bag of popcorn, and maybe a piece of fruit. I’d continue to eat until it was time to go to sleep. When this finally caught up with me, I spent most of college cycling between severely restricted caloric intake (hello, 800 calorie days), 2+ hours of steady-state cardio, and subsequently binging on entire boxes of cheese-its (or whatever was in the house) because I was so. freaking. hungry. After years of worrying about my weight and constantly dieting, I was never able to find peace with my body.
“I don’t care if it hurts, I want to have control. I want a perfect body; I want a perfect soul.” – Radiohead
The problem is that, as a general rule of fitness, the goal is always moving. That means if you exercise, diet, or train solely for physical looks, you will always be able to find imperfections. Now, this is totally fine if your personal goal is to body build or compete in figure or bikini competitions (trust me, I’m not knocking this group of people–that’s a level of dedication that I could never even dream of possessing), but for the average person who wants a bigger chest, more muscular arms, thinner thighs, a six-pack, whatever, this is an incredibly disheartening concept.
When you base your input and output on performance, however, then the goal, while still always moving, is not as innately tied to your self-worth. You introduce the concept of “yet” when you eat/train to perform. It’s not that you didn’t hit your goal, it’s that you didn’t hit your goal yet. This just means you have to keep working, keep training, and keep trying. If you eat what you need to sustain your training and you give everything you have in the gym/on the road/in the pool/what have you, then you can take pride in the physical changes that will come as the result of this. This is a big part of the appeal for people that do CrossFit, for example, because they start working on building their confidence based on something other than their physical appearance. And while it’s tempting to say, “you are not your body,” that’s not true at all–you ARE your body, but you are also your mind and your soul. Why we spend more time focusing on and respecting any one of these areas more than the other(s) is beyond me.
It comes down to respect. None of us are immune to wanting the perfect body. You will sometimes find yourself disappointed on your journey–I know I have. I get bummed that for all my efforts, my training twice-a-day for 6 days a week, that I don’t look all that different, but that’s when I have to focus on respecting my body and remember that it’s not about physical appearance but about increasing my speed, strength, and stamina so that I can perform to the best of my ability at my triathlons. The appearance will change, slowly but surely, but it will never be perfect. There’s no such thing.
So go out there and kill it, you guys. Find something that makes you feel empowered and focus all your energy into that, because when you base your confidence on your strength as a human, you’ll be far happier than when you’re chasing perfection.
I’ll leave you with what Daniel said in his Facebook post today:
“At some point in your journey of fitness these 10 points will become evident, not all at once, but they will bubble out one by one and then and only then will you start to achieve your goals. Read this article and try to start applying it because your fit bit can only get you so far, you have to consciously do the rest!”