The holidays are a time of celebration, and weight gain. In fact, most people in the United States gain an average of five pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years, and coincidentally, those five pounds are then typically bundled into a New Year’s Resolution of weight loss. Starting a weight loss or body fat journey can be overwhelming, and is often discouraging, but there’s a better way, and I want to make sure you know about it. I’m convinced that this better way not about the weight, or even what we eat, but rather about how we feel about our bodies and ourselves. Let me explain:
The fitness industry can be an intimidating world to navigate, especially to the millions on the outside who are desperate for a simple, quick fix to their health and fitness problems. As someone who wasted a decade of her life trying every diet, taking on every form of eating disorder, and waiting with bated breath for a pill or a workout that would “fix” everything that she didn’t like about her body, the fitness industry — my industry— is still doing a great injustice to the millions of people who have invested in our gyms and businesses.
Too often, we give people temporary solutions to their fitness problems without really giving them the proper tools to actually solidify the solutions. We are throwing Band-Aids on deep wounds. We make people sweat and tell them what to eat, but we don’t show them how to develop a sustainable relationship between their heart and their health, their mind and their body. We are failing as an industry by the millions. Sure, we have success stories, and yes, we transform lives, but we are missing the mark. We are influencing millions when we need to be inspiring billions.
Change starts here, and change starts in evaluating our relationship with the mirror.
I used to avoid all mirrors, except for the moment I would wake up in the morning and allow the mirror judge me and determine how my entire day would unfold. If I looked skinny and I could see my abs, it was going to be a good day. Bloated stomach or slouchy posture translated to — or dictated, rather — a terrible day. I gave mirrors more power than they deserved, which in turn created fear. I avoided mirrors because more often than not, my perfectionism caused me to walk away from them feeling worse about myself. You may not believe me but at one point I literally would not even look at my reflection when I washed my hands; I would keep my eyes staring intently into the sink to avoid the abusive self-judgment I would put myself through upon looking at my reflection.
The funny thing about mirrors is that we don’t always see what is actually there. Mirrors are tricky entities. They deceive our hearts and our understanding of ourselves, and for some, like myself, their reflections are actually distorted by our own minds as if we aren’t careful. I am not exaggerating about my own past experience, and what you need to know is that I essentially look and weigh the same then as I do now. The fact that I had a toxic relationship with my reflection wasn’t rational, but that doesn’t negate the severity of the toll that it took on me. It’s possible to change your eyes and how they see your reflection, but it takes work. In fact, the only sustainable way to live at optimal health – with a healthy, fit and active body – is to have a healthy mind first.
Originally I didn’t want to address my toxic relationship with the mirror – avoidance was too easy of distraction of the deeper issue that lied within me – but ultimately I was forced to confront my unhealthy mindset. When I became a trainer, my relationship with food and with my body improved, and because most of my days were spent spotting my clients in front of mirrors, I had to face the mirror issue. The gym is one big mirror, and it was terrifying. I had to improve my relationship with the mirror if I ever wanted to be a true example to my clients and if I ever wanted to maintain a healthy and fit body and lifestyle.
You too must learn to love yourself enough to be kind to your reflection in the mirror. Learning to see ourselves for who we really are – that is, what is beneath our reflection – is what empowers us to make and stick to healthy decisions to honor our body physically by the exercise we do and the food we choose to put in our body.
Let the reflection you see be that of your true self, and, the next time you look into a mirror, smile, no matter what you might see in your superficial reflection. Strive to achieve balance in your relationship and understanding of your reflection: embrace the external beauty that you see in yourself, and, at the same time, never forget to acknowledge the deeper, more beautiful reflection of your internal self that only self-aware eyes can see. As you start to see yourself with kinder eyes, your journey towards optimal health and fitness will be kinder and more successful as well.
Challenge of the Day:
Smile at yourself every time you look in a mirror and let your smile remind you that your inner beauty is what really makes you outstanding.
If you enjoyed today’s post, then you will enjoy my e-book Building a Better Body Image: 50 Days to Loving Yourself from the Inside Out, from which this email was an excerpt. You can get your own copy of Building a Better Body Image from Amazon at http://www.trishblackwell.com/bodyimagebook . It’s the perfect read for this time of the year and will prepare you to start 2015 successfully, from the inside out.