I constantly stress the importance of paying attention to your train of thought and taking care of your mental health. This isn’t just because I’m some health crazed yogi fitness guru either. I talk about how important it is because I didn’t understand the importance of it myself when I needed to.
It became a big deal for me when I was getting into the fitness world. Especially since no one I saw ever talked about dealing with the same issues. As someone who was on the outside looking in at Instagram fitness influencers and even the body builders at my gym, all I saw were seemingly happy people with perfect physiques living their best life. And all I wanted was to be one of those people.
I wanted to be like them so badly.
Everything seems better with justification.
Here I was, standing in front of the mirror trying on a new pair of compression shorts and feeling so unhappy with what I saw. A slim woman, without any curves, envying the women that had hit the genetic jackpot. But I knew if I could just figure out the secrets that those influencers had, if I could gain the knowledge that they had and do what they did, I would be so much happier.
I’d have the same body that I envied for years.
So that’s what I did. I researched and studied all of my favorite influencers all the way from their humble beginnings. I looked at every Instagram post they ever made, making sure to bookmark them if I needed to go back to them. I took notes on their work out styles and work out splits and figured out how to incorporate all of the best parts of each person’s routine to create one of my own. The ultimate workout plan. I tried meal prepping (that didn’t last long). I started taking supplements and even bought athletic wear that I had never heard of before *cough* Gymshark *cough*. I was meticulous in everything that I did.
I did what ever I could to reach my ideal body type, which was what some people would call “fit thick.”
What I now realize is, I was just trying to overcompensate for the body I naturally have. And I was trying to please my boyfriend at the time by reaching his ideal female body type. Neither of which was a good idea. But you know what? I did it anyway. I reached that goal of fit thick and it felt good…
The grass is greener where you water it.
So why wasn’t I completely happy like everyone else? Sure I seemed happy. That is until I found something else that was wrong with my body.
I looked in the mirror and even though I didn’t see the slim girl whose body felt child-like anymore, I saw the curvy girl who gave herself a little too much freedom in the food department and gained back fat. I saw a girl whose face was too chubby to take pictures with her boyfriend. I saw a girl who didn’t look as fit some of the other people I knew. I saw someone who wasn’t the right type of thick.
What I didn’t see was what was wrong with my thinking at the time. Either that or I was just in denial. Why was I nit picking the way I looked? Why was I still pushing myself to be something that I wasn’t?
This is why taking care of your mental state is so important. It took me a year and a half to realize that the reason I was never satisfied with how I looked and obsessing over what I saw in the mirror was because I never dealt with the real problem. I never dealt with my real insecurities. Sure it’s true that I wasn’t satisfied with how looked but that wasn’t the root issue. The issue was that deep down I never felt like I was good enough.
I wasn’t pretty enough or curvy enough to have the boyfriend that I had. I wasn’t strong enough to fit in with the body building crowd of friends I made. I wasn’t fit enough to call myself a personal trainer. Of course none of those things were true, but because I didn’t understand how much my outlook on myself and how I thought other people perceived me could effect me, I believed it all. I was always searching for something that I would’ve never found the way I was looking for it because I had to find it within myself.
Breaking the chains wasn’t easy.
I had finally had enough of the obsession. I knew it wasn’t healthy, and it was a long process of reversing the damage I did to myself. I took a break from social media. I removed negative people and energy from my life. I stopped following accounts of anyone that made me feel like the person that I am wasn’t good enough. I removed all of my photos on Instagram that reminded me of my body dysmorphia, which left me pretty much starting over. I stopped taking post workout photos. I stopped weighing myself on the scale and checking my body fat in the mirror.
And I started living.
I spoke positively. I stood in front of the mirror and told myself what I liked about myself and how amazing I am. Even if I didn’t believe what I said in the moment, I said it anyway until I did believe it. I focused on my health rather than my aesthetics. I stopped making goals to look a certain way and made more strength and stamina related goals, like learning how to pistol squat and being able to do pull ups. I allowed myself to not feel bad about eating certain foods. I began to love and appreciate my body for what it was able to do and not just for what it looked like. And now instead of pretending to be happy I can actually be happy.