Body image is a curious thing. Your average human being seems to be so instilled with self-loathing that we need to be told to love ourselves, before someone else is even able to.
Whether you want to blame how the media portrays the ‘perfect’ man or woman, or simply that little voice in the back of your head that tells you you aren’t good enough, the fact is body image has become big business and a big issue.
Communities, businesses and much more have sprung up around making folks feel happy with ‘the skin they’re in’, alternatively there are plenty of businesses, and incendiary individuals, that profit on telling you you aren’t good enough.
I think there is a happy medium to be found here.
I believe that you should always strive to make yourself better, but the reality is you will probably never look like the Adonis on the front of Men’s Health.
That doesn’t mean you should just settle or give up, but neither does it mean that you should swear off all carbs, gluten, dairy, anything that casts a shadow, or whatever the latest fad is.
Side note: I don’t think bettering yourself purely means physically, but for the purposes of this blog that’s what I’ll be talking about.
How did I deal with it? I decided I needed to confront the voice which had been my main critic, to try and reach some kind of compromise.
“You’re just too fat, not strong enough and just kind of a useless asshole.” It explained.
Okay, I thought, well what do you want me to do about it? Starve myself? Hit the gym?
“Nah, the gym’s full of people and I quite like cake. How about you just cut down and workout a bit? That’s a start.”
I naturally have quite a broad and muscular build, so my “ideal” BMI doesn’t really help me set a reasonable target, unless I want to lose muscle mass, which I don’t, but enough about BMI being useless.
With that in mind I made a simple goal, knowing that it would take a long time to reach: find a weight where I feel happy with how I look.
How do I plan on achieving this? In my blog about motivation vs. discipline, I wrote about using the app Streaks, which has been invaluable in developing my self-discipline and building positive daily habits.
Combine developing self-discipline, with how good it feels to eat well, cook from scratch and exercise and the rest begins to take care of itself.
Your mileage may vary, but I believe the desire to change and/or improve yourself needs to come from a selfish place first: if you’re doing it for someone else, and that person leaves or lets you down, all of your progress could unravel, you have to do it for you first.
Having said that, wanting to be the man I believe my partner deserves has kept me going when I really don’t want to exercise, or really do want another brownie.
Not that I think she wouldn’t love me if I was a size bigger, but I am better able to love and support her when I’m in a good place; when I’m happy with myself.
The same goes for my family, friends and colleagues, when I’m happy with myself, I am a better version of myself.
Also being stronger, the fittest I’ve ever been and not getting out of breath going up the stairs, feels pretty good.
Have you recently started trying to get fitter or lose weight? Do you make use of Streaks, or any other apps? Do you also think BMI is BS? I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on Twitter.