Recently, one of my clients asked me, "when in your own weight loss journey did you feel like you started shifting your focus from body size to what it can do?". I didn't have an answer readily available and really had to think about it. I don't recall a specific moment, rather small actions and habits that lead me to the shift. For a back story, I don't recall having a poor body image growing up. It wasn't until my freshman year of college where I quickly gained several pounds, couldn't fit into my clothes comfortably, and weighed myself to confirm that I was then the heaviest I had been. [insert poor body image]. I immediately [over]reacted by doing hours of cardio, no strength training, and cycling through a poor habit of eating very little followed by binging. I suffered from poor sleep, was sick all the time, extremely stressed, and, ultimately, was treating my body like shit. It wasn't long into these poor habits that I injured myself while running. I was forced to shift from running to cycling if I wanted to do cardio. Newsflash: I would rather gouge my eyes out than sit on a stationary bike. Excessive? Yes. But that's my truth. In effort to avoid the stationary seat of hell, I began to slowly incorporate strength training, even though I had no idea what I was doing. I worked out with friends who knew significantly more about lifting than me as I learned the ropes. Fast forward to after graduating college: I had already lost the weight (unhealthily), and I became obsessive of what I was eating, how much I was eating, and how often I was working out. I worked out nearly 7 days per week. I ate granola bars for snacks and plain chicken and plain lettuce for dinner. At the time, I called it "health". As I improved my relationship with food (no secrets on this one, I don't know what encouraged the switch for me), I recall eventually getting down to my leanest. Even at my leanest, I still felt like I needed to be leaner. I was not leading a healthful lifestyle even though it might have appeared so on the outside. It wasn't until years into my journey where I stopped paying attention to how I looked and focused more on what my body could do. I learned that if I fed my body well with protein + veggies + fruits + carbs (both nutritious and less nutritious) + fats, I felt better, could maintain and gain strength, could run farther and harder, and enjoy adventures regardless of the size of my body. I'm not here to tell you your aesthetic goals aren't valid. If you want to change the way you look, by all means! But it is not the end-all be-all. You can be your leanest and feel like garbage. You can be your heaviest and feel amazing. It all depends on the person. What's important is that you meet yourself where you are and prioritize how you feel above all other fitness components.
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