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I just had a good conversation with a friend/training client in response to my most recent blog post about determining your identity. Our talk dug deep and unburied some titles that she didn’t realize she was carrying. Tears were shed, for sure.
Identifying certain titles are easy, like mom, wife, school volunteer, fitness enthusiast… these are pretty much black and white.
However friends, there is usually another layer of titles lurking under the surface that are harder to nail down and identify. Food addict or just food lover? Undisciplined or unmotivated? Fitness enthusiast or body image focused? People pleaser or reputation upholder?
At the end of our talk, we concluded that she needed to cancel her gym membership to move forward and see progress. WHAT?! Keep reading to learn why...
Do you ever feel like you’re on a rollercoaster of motivation, one month feeling totally into it, complete with charts, meal plans, workout journals, and the whole works? And then another month you’ve somehow fallen out of sync? There may be one ugly title that might be the reason for this.
You may be body-image-driven, focusing too much on what others think of you.
You workout and eat healthy to look good. You are driven by the number on the scale or your percentage of body fat. Your goal is to look good in your clothes and maybe even drop a couple sizes. This is running through your head during every workout and with every meal you create. This is especially running through your head when you don’t workout and you binge eat.
This was certainly me too, and I’m recovering from this mindset. Over the years, I have been able to step down from trying to be something and portray a particular persona. I really don’t give a rat’s a$$ anymore what people think of my body. However, the moment I step into a gym it comes flooding back. “Do these workout pants tighten up my tummy enough? I like this tank top…it falls just right and shows off my delts. I’m a trainer, so I better look good. Come on, impress!”
If your fitness and nutrition is motivated by looking good, this disintegrates very quickly. There is absolutely no longevity to this motivator. You will quickly realize that you’ll never really measure up the way you’d like to. Feelings of failure happen time and time again.
If one of your identities is being body-image-driven, this could be the single most important thing that is holding you back.
You will always be on a rollercoaster, having good months and bad months.
What’s the answer? Get off the rollercoaster! Admit that you have an issue with how people perceive you. Admit that you’re overly concerned with having a certain reputation. Admit that looking good is why you workout!
Once you admit this, slowly shift your focus toward performance instead. What can your body DO?! What are your upper limits of fitness? How healthy can you possibly be?
For me, when my focus shifted to performance (it took some time, trust me), I WANTED to eat healthier. I WANTED to workout 5 days a week. I WANTED to push it hard, jump higher, do one more rep, lift heavier, and dig deeper because I wanted to know what it would feel like. How would it feel to be in the best possible shape of my life? Nobody else cares how my body feels, so it’s not about impressing anyone anymore. (I’m tearing up just thinking about how liberating this feeling is! You need to know this!)
So, the answer for my friend was to cancel her gym membership. Working out at the gym was toxic for her, just as it was for me. She had to be somebody when she was there and portray herself in a certain way, which was completely distracting and discouraging in the end. She’s going to workout at home now where she can wear whatever the heck she wants, have her hair in complete disarray and absolutely kill it during her workouts with nobody watching, except her audience of One.
And let me tell you, this is what it’s all about.