Last Updated on February 10, 2021 by JP
Thought not. Why would you?
This is waaaaay deeper than even most Personal Trainers think. Shame, because it’s important. Who you are, as a person, is the collective mish-mash of your values, beliefs, habits, prejudices, thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc.
In this post we’re going to hone in on self-image and how that is going to impact our results in fitness and body.
Why our unique, individual thoughts and beliefs are going to make our outcomes totally different to the next person, even if we follow the same plan.
What is Self-Image?
The self-image is how you perceive yourself. This may or may not be in alignment with reality, or with how other people perceive us. We’ve all seen or heard really confident looking people who dominate a room, having a break down, finding out they’re actually insecure and timid inside.
The image they have of themselves is not matching the image in reality, and that other people have of them.
Let’s think about fitness. I’ll let you in on a little secret. People in great shape are often the most insecure people in the world. They don’t think they’re good enough, and that is why they keep pushing themselves harder and harder.
They look great on the outside, but they’re terrified of being bloated, of someone else being bigger than them, or the hot guy or girl at the bar turning them down.
In terms of their body, this is actually working in their favor. Though it isn’t good for their mental wellbeing.
On the other side of the fence are people who are out of shape. Perhaps they’ve been overweight all of their lives and were bullied as children.
These people view themselves as the ‘fat child’ still. Even if they lose some weight, they always go right back to their ‘fat child’ habits and regain the weight. It puts them back in their comfort zone.
Aligning Self-Image and Fitness Goals
It holds so many people back, when their self-image doesn’t line up with their goals.
If you think of yourself as the fat child, the fat child does not engage in healthy behaviours like workout out or eating salads. You can force it for a while, but its hard work. You’re fighting against what comes naturally to you.
Your mind wants to be the fat child and sit on the couch, eating Doritos.
This is why people self-sabotage and always revert back to where they feel comfortable.
Until your self-image changes to become a ‘fit person’. The sort of person who does ‘fit person’ things like going to the gym and eating healthy, you are not going to find it comes naturally to you.
Yeah, you can force it for a while, but it’s all willpower and external motivation. It won’t last because your actions are at odds with your core values.
How to Change Your Self-Image
This is not an easy process, but the first step is to be aware of it.
Give yourself a break if you find fitness difficult. It’s like people who tell themselves they can’t drive; they have an anxiety attack every time they get behind the wheel. Nobody berates them for not being good drivers, do they?
The second step is to look at the language you use. If you’re always saying things like;
“I’ll always be fat”.
“I hate exercise”.
“I don’t like healthy food”.
Guess what? That’s what you’re programming in to yourself.
Catch yourself using these sorts of phrases.
Anything that starts with “I can’t” or “I hate” is probably holding you back.
Question it. Literally, right them down and ask yourself if that is true.
“I can’t exercise”. Really? Is that true? No, of course it’s not. Anyone can exercise. You might not want to, but you can.
“I hate exercise”. Really? Is that true? Have you ever enjoyed any form of exercise? Perhaps you’re uncomfortable with people looking at you. It’s not the exercise you hate it’s being judged by others.
You see how these things are rarely true.
Now, I’m guessing if you’re reading this site, most of you are not in that sort of situation. It is just the easiest example to illustrate, because it is the most extreme.
Perhaps you’re a hardcore runner and claim to “hate” strength training?
Or perhaps you “can’t” do flexibility work, because you don’t have time?
Is that true?
You will find it probably is not.
Becoming Solution Focused
The value in this process is flipping the switch from being problem focused to becoming solution focused.
“Hates” and “cant’s” are just looking for problems and reasons not to do something.
When you flip it over, you’re looking for the way that you CAN do it. (and there is always a way).
The out of shape person NEVER has enough time for exercise and healthy eating, yet the fit person never seems to struggle.
Do they have more hours in the day?
Of course not, it’s a matter of priorities and looking for a solution rather than a problem.
Start looking for a solution and you will start making changes.
As your language changes, you “can” do things, you start to enjoy things. Then the results follow. This time you can maintain them, because you’re not saying one thing while trying to do the polar opposite.
Eventually, over time, your self-image will start to change. The shift in language, along with the reality of results will lead it down the right path. That is when fitness becomes easy. When you see yourself as the fit person. The sort of person who does [insert thing here], then it all flows naturally and you enjoy it.
That’s kind of a deep post, to really get this, I suggest you do actually write these things down and start to look for alternative answers. Your results will reflect your changing self-image.