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June 3, 2015

Self Image, the Good, the Bad and the Critical

You know what I find funny? You think that once you’re in shape that your body image issues go away. WRONG! What else I find funny, is that even fitness professionals like Shaun T have body issues. As he and I have become best friends, he’s taught me a lot about body image, but the most important thing he’s taught me (and he doesn’t even know it) is that by him having body image issues he’s shown me that we ALL deal with it. And it’s ok!

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When I say Shaun has body image issues, I mean that he has those days where he’ll come up to me and ask me “Do I look fat?” When he first asked me that, I wanted to punch him in the face, but then I realized he was serious. To him there are days that he feels fat! To you and me, we would think “Are you serious?”, I’d give almost anything to look like you. Then I had to realize that yes, even fitness professionals have days where they feel fat.

I don’t know why this makes me feel better, except to say that it does and should with you, make you feel NORMAL. So I started talking to Shaun about this and one thing he said that rang so true with me is this:

“When we look in the mirror, our eyes always go to what we hate the most.”

And he’s right. When you look in the mirror, you always see what you don’t like about yourself, not the 10lbs you’ve lost, not the biceps or your calves from your years of running or playing sports … you see the flab (usually on your stomach) or the somewhat double chin or whatever you find to be your trouble area.

Your mind can play some serious tricks on you and you would be surprised at what’s there, that you’re not seeing. What I mean is this: people see us differently then we see ourselves. So many people pay me compliments on my arms, talk about how fit or muscular I am and you know what? I walk away from it not believing it. I will constantly go up to Alisha and say,

“I wish I saw myself the way others see me.”

She always tells me they’re right, but in my mind I still see and feel like the overweight 255lb guy that I was 7 or 8 years ago. It’s crazy…correction it’s STUPID.  I share this because it’s really hard to shake this, Shaun and I both have talked about this and we both go through it … trust and believe.

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Sometimes I go and watch our YouTube videos from years past and think “Man I was fit back then when I first did Asylum!” and then I realize that even then I didn’t appreciate or see myself the way I actually was … fit!

So my question for you is this: Why do we do it to ourselves?

We only have one life to live, why waste it making ourselves feel less than? There are plenty of people out there who will do that for us. Fortunately, we also have people who are there to lift us up, focus on that. Believe in the people and trust them when they say you look amazing.

Ciara is a perfect example, a good friend of ours who has lost a lot of weight since we met her in January and looks amazing!!! I told her the other night how great she looks and she said “Yeah but I still feel fat and don’t like this and don’t like that.” and I realized that she does it too. We all do.

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My point to you is this, you’re going to have days where you feel amazing and days where you feel fat. You’re never as good as you think you are and you’re never as bad as you think you are either. Learn to live in a space where you can see yourself as you are, amazing and unique.

Celebrate your successes, every pound, every inch counts. It’s all about the journey and you should thrive and live in each day of it. You will hit potholes and you will have stormy days but the good will always outweigh the bad. Remember that you are amazing and never compare yourself to others.

The truth is, we all have different body types. I will never have abs like Shaun does, it’s just not in my genes. But I can be happy with a flat stomach and see it as an amazing accomplishment and live in that! If I beat myself up over something I can’t change, then I’m wasting my time.

Another thing to consider that Shaun taught me, you have to be able to live a lifestyle that you can maintain. Which means if you are super strict and workout really hard to get down to 5% body fat….great! Now ask yourself can you maintain it? You may be able to, but then another person may like to indulge in sweets or alcohol and may only be able to maintain 10-12% body fat and still look amazing. In their minds, they may feel bad because they can’t stay at 5% because of what they like to eat, but they still workout hard, still look amazing and fluctuate between 5% and 10% and get upset! Let me let you off the hook, stop.

Another piece of advice I got from Shaun, live in a space you can maintain. When I was at my leanest and had the best abs I’ve ever had I was super strict with my diet, but in all honesty I can can’t maintain it. So Shaun told me,

You have to live in a space and know that you still look amazing and you’re in a space that you can maintain.

Am I super ripped? No. Am I happy? Yes! That’s all that matters. Do you, accept you and realize that you’re amazing the way you are today, you can get better tomorrow if you want and you can also live in the space you’re in. Ignore the days where the mirror talks smack and just remember that we think you’re amazing the way you are today.

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