There was a time when I was consumed by workouts, eating, and transforming my physique. It was literally like my number one priority in life and what I thought about ALL the time. In the past few years, things have definitely changed for me. My priorities are a little different now, and I am no longer completely obsessed with my training and physique. I wanted to share some of the things that helped me get to a better, healthier mindset.
For one, I stopped weighing myself obsessively. A few years ago I was set on getting to a certain weight(as in gaining weight), and I would sometimes weigh myself 2-3 times a day, every day. I would actually get frustrated if my weight was down.
In a way, it was good because it was a way for me to adjust how much I needed to be eating. If my weight was staying the same or going down, I knew I needed to eat more. However, just as I tell my clients that the scale doesn’t really tell you much about your progress, I didn’t realize that those words also applied to me!
Just because I was up a pound or two, that didn’t mean that I had gained pounds of muscle overnight! So what was it really telling me? Probably not much. What it was doing was just getting me discouraged. Just like I get on people for wanting to lose weight as fast as possible, I was doing the same with wanting to gain weight! So I just stopped weighing myself. Now I weigh myself every now and then just to make sure I’m not losing weight.
I also took a break from focusing on strength as much in my training. I stopped trying to set a PR every workout and obsessively logging everything I did in the gym, and I think it was good for me, mentally and physically. I went back to training just for the fun of it, doing what I felt like doing from day to day, and not to trying to outdo myself every single workout. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was still training hard and lifting heavy!
Sometimes it’s okay just to go the gym, train hard, and get a good pump, even if you didn’t do a single extra rep or go pound heavier than last week. I think it’s good to go through training phases, where you put your focus on a different things, whether it’s gaining strength, building muscle, losing fat, or just having fun! Soon I will be going back to a variation of Wendler’s 5-3-1 powerlifting program because now I’m missing that type of lifting, and I can’t wait to get back into it.
Another thing I stopped doing is obsessively looking at pictures of fitness models. For a while, especially in the beginning of my muscle building journey, looking at those pictures really helped me to stay motivated and inspired to one day be able to look like that. I think that those “fitspiration” photos can be a good thing for some people, because it really does make you want to train harder, not skip the gym, and eat right. Because if you want a body like that, you know you have to work for it!
But there does come a point when those photos don’t help you in a positive way anymore, as least it did for me. For someone like me who has put in the time at the gym, who has trained their butt off for the past 10 years, who has eaten healthy consistently and has seen my body change and transform over the years, those photos now just seem to get me down more than lift me up. Instead of being proud of the body I have created and liking the way I look, it causes me to compare myself to others, to focus on my flaws, to wish that I had a different body type, to never be satisfied.
Sometimes I would stare at myself in the bathroom mirror, flex and pose and twist my stomach to see how good I could make it look. I would be disgusted with myself if my stomach was looking “fat” one day. I was constantly focusing on my flaws and what I didn’t like about myself instead of just looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “Dang, I look pretty good, look at all those muscles you got!”
Does that mean that I’m not going to continue to strive for improvement in my physique? Not at all. I’m still working towards making my butt bigger and getting rounder shoulders. Does it mean I’ll never post another “fitspirational” Erin Stern photo? Definitely not! I admire beautiful physiques and love motivational quotes and pictures. It’s just that I’m not going to compare my body to others constantly or wish for something I don’t have, but rather compare myself to myself and be happy with the progress I’ve made and continue to make. I’m not going to obsess about how I look, but be proud of the muscles that I’ve earned and just be happy that I am fit and healthy!