I received this message (photo) from a fellow fitness pro last week and was debating whether or not I should post it. The ONLY reason I am going to is because it really proves a point, and a message that I am so passionate about spreading. Focusing on strength and fitness related goals, feeling good/healthy, and basing your nutrition around foods that you enjoy and that make you feel good will lead you to your aesthetic related goals. Obsessing about your appearance will deplete you mentally and physically, and will impede your progress in all areas, including socially.
Back in the day, mainly in my late teens to mid 20's, I worked out and ate purely to control the way I looked. I was going through some personal issues that I didn't feel like I had any control over (even though I totally did and just didn't know it at the time). I used to be extremely rigid with my eating and workouts as they were two areas in my life that I thought I could control. I was miserable, and my workouts/results sucked. Lots of slow and steady cardio, aiming to burn 650 calories per session, limited strength training that consisted of ineffective exercises. My workouts were exactly what I am absolutely against today. Why, because I know that they do not work, AND that they are extremely mentally and physically draining. I am absolutely against living a lifestyle that focuses solely on the aesthetics, and one that is beyond unreasonable and unsustainable.
As I've talked about before, when I was 26, I was in a bad car accident. While I wasn't injured, the way I twisted my body to avoid the impact ended up severely misaligning my ribs, but I had NO idea. For close to 5 years I suffered from horrible symptoms ranging from joints randomly going out of alignment (SI, low back, mid back, upped back, neck, upper ribs, feet, tibia, and more), severe nerve pain, numbness, inexplicable weakness, muscle tightness, aches/pains, dysfunction etc. I continued to work out, and kept playing soccer because for whatever reason I was still playing well. The only relief I ever got was when I was asleep. Years went by and I couldn't recall the last day when I had felt ''normal.'' I couldn't work out properly, eventually had to stop playing soccer, basically stopped living, and became very depressed.
I spent over $20 000 trying to find someone who could help me. During this time, my one wish was that I felt good again. I didn't care if I was ever able to play soccer again. I realized that being healthy and feeling good are the most important things, and by a landslide. I told myself that if I ever got better, I wouldn't focus on appearance, I just wanted to feel healthy, strong, and athletic. After close to 5 years, MANY doctors and MANY different diagnoses, I didn't believe it was possible. Also, being athletic is a large part of my identity (and still is), so losing that part of me for those years was nearly debilitating.
The second I FINALLY found an outstanding physio who caught the cause RIGHT away, and didn't just treat the symptoms like 100% of the others, (I was better in 2 sessions) my focus instantly shifted to feeling good (and staying that way), and getting as fit and strong as possible. I can honestly say that I cannot recall the last time where I've have worked out to look a certain way.
What I now know (and wish I had discovered years sooner), and what my message has become, is that if you focus on getting fitter and stronger for your workouts, sport (if applicable) and life, eat foods that you enjoy and that enhance your lifestyle, enjoy your favourite treat foods in moderation, and basically enjoy living, you will be happy with your physical appearance. Since I've been living my life this way, my body has transformed for the better. My body is the byproduct of my lifestyle, not the focus of it.
Knowing this, and experiencing it myself, has been incredibly liberating and empowering, and I wish that more people could adopt this mindset. This is the mindset that I try to instil in all of my clients. Why, because it works.