Strip your clothes off. Stand in front of a mirror. Scrutinize every inch of your body. Pinch it, grab handfuls of it, jiggle it, flex it. Look at the birth marks, the scars, the cellulite, the veins. Now, stare directly at your body and tell yourself how much you love it.
I want you to mean it.
Our society is in a constant search for “the secret” drug or workout that can revolutionize the appearance of our bodies in an ungodly short amount of time. Not even if Michelangelo was sculpting our bodies would we have the patience to let him complete a masterpiece. We are fed the image of a “perfect” body in every corner of the media which has worked wonders for the business of marketing. The consequence of this is the majority of people in our society cannot bear to look themselves in the mirror. The truth is, satisfaction of physical appearance will never be reached because when you look for the “imperfections” in your body, you will always find them. I challenge you for the duration of this post to let go of all of your preconceived ideas of fitness and the perfect body, and start with me from scratch.
First and foremost, LOVE yourself. Roll your eyes at me if you must. Sooner or later you will find this to be as vital (in my opinion, it’s more vital) than the weights you’re lifting and the protein shakes you’re chugging. If you cannot embrace the way you look now, then your chances of attaining your physical goals may never happen because you will never be able to change your body fast enough to satisfy you. This usually results in giving up.
Second, let go of the aesthetic idea of working out to achieve the body you want. Instead, focus on achieving the “little victories” of having a stronger, well-balanced body. For example, until I was about 26 I was never capable of doing a perfect push-up, a strict pull-up, squat below parallel, or touch my toes in a standing or seated position. I became capable of all of these within a few months of actively working towards each individual physical challenge. The approach I took through my CrossFit and yoga practice was incremental. I did modified versions of all the above until I was slowly able to develop the strength and flexibility to do the movements with proper form.
It’s like watching a toddler walk around holding onto the couch for support and then letting go for the first time as they discover their legs can hold them up for a couple seconds before they fall. Letting go of that couch is a “little” victory towards the ultimate goal of walking, regardless of the fact that they fell. The gratification that comes from gradually excelling through each movement until finally reaching its perfect form is what motivates me to continue to push my body to new limits. The number of “falls” will only make the success of “walking” more gratifying when it happens.
Third, block out the noise in your head. Take control of your thinking. Doubt and negative thoughts are there to challenge you, to see what you’re really made of. These two have no manners and they’re rude as hell. They dance their way into your mind and attempt to whimsically seduce you into following them. Acknowledge their existence, shake your head at their rudeness, and lead them out. If you practice this enough times, it becomes automatic. Soon enough, you will have a “Just Do It” mentality with your physical training. Nike did their research.
Next, thank your plateaus. They are letting you know you are ready to move on to the next level. What you once found difficult and may have caused you some agonizing soreness is now far easier. Be grateful for it. Have the courage to move past it by trying something new. Even the smallest adjustment in what your eating or introducing a new workout can push you through a plateau in no time.
Finally, be mindful of your body. Give it a break when it needs it. Push harder if it feels good. Don’t set a goal to do a handstand if walking on your feet to the corner grocery store is exhausting. Wherever your body is at now is perfect. Start there.