There was a point in my life where I devoted a lot of time and energy to thinking about the way I looked. I restricted my eating, except when I ate sweets to assuage the stress of failure to change my body. I worked out with the singular goal of losing weight and becoming skinny.
And it didn’t change the way I looked.
And I didn’t lose (much) weight.
And it didn’t make me happy.
Since then, I’ve grown up a little bit, and I’ve changed my body image philosophy in an important and powerful way. Instead of caring about what my body looks like, I want to care about what my body can do. My training goals are all oriented at challenging myself to get stronger in specific and achievable ways.
I want to be able to squat and dead lift my body weight. I want to push myself on lead by redpointing harder routes. I want to make it to the top of any trail I choose to hike. I want my body to be strong and capable. Learning my limits and training myself to be stronger has given me the confidence to love my body and myself. It means that I can be impressed with what my body can do, instead of searching for its flaws in the mirror.
The beauty of training to be strong instead of working out to be skinny is that you can see your progress as you go. Each week, on at least one of my exercises, I can go for longer, lift more weight, or do more reps. The little successes in each workout keep me motivated all week long.
Don’t obsess about what you look like. Don’t wish that your body looked like someone else’s. Decide what you want to be able to do, and then train until you can do it.