This article The Aesthetic Goal Conundrum | Everyday Paleo really struck a chord with me.
When I first got into fitness as a driving force in my life, I was not unhappy with the way my body looked. I was overweight, but not terribly so (and in today’s Anglosphere standards, probably quite firmly in the average level), and I embraced attitudes towards beauty as an eye of the beholder type thing. I believed I looked good – if anything I’d been coming to terms with dressing myself better so even if shopping could still be problematic, on the whole – I liked how I looked.
What drove me to get into exercise was a desire to be fit – I wanted to be able to do anything I wanted. I tell people the turning point was watching some serial killer type movie and realising I would not be able to run 20mins to get away from a killer.
So I got into it – I could run 20min, then my goal became 1hr, which I can now also do pretty comfortably. By the time I was able to run 20mins, I’d dropped two dress sizes.
Throughout my career, the biggest changes in physical appearance have more often than not been achieved by those without aesthetic goals. Furthermore, clients who are the most driven by aesthetic goals alone, sometimes to the point of desperation, are usually those who struggle the most. It’s a frustrating paradox for both client and trainer alike. I have some tenuous theories, but no definitive solutions.
If anything – I’m more critical of my body now. And I’m conscious that there’s areas I want to fix. If I could just put a bit more work in, stick to my diet plan a bit better I’d lose the body fat I don’t like and my body would be better. You know what – terrible motivation. I can’t do it.
body loathing probably goes hand in hand with low self esteem in most cases. Whether the relationship between how you look and how you value yourself is correlated or causal, the outcome is often difficulty with compliance.
I think there is a lot in this. When all I cared about was improving my fitness as an external goal, making the effort seemed worth it. Trying to lose body fat because I’m not good enough feels intrinsically different.
Fortunately I’m gearing up to work on a few more fitness goals. I don’t think I want to care too much more about hitting a certain scale/body fat % point anymore.