Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 27, 2017
On thing I have struggled with over the last six years in regards to my fitness regimen is the changes I have gone through. I look back at a lot of my worst habits….too much television and video games, too much food and definitely no concept of exercise. All of those things contributed to a downward spiral where I gained maybe 120 pounds over the course of a couple years and turned into a giant behemoth. Aided with a little bit of success in job and comfort of life, I began this horrific journey that ultimately forced me to finally say enough after being pushed through the doors of Parsons Training. Needless to say, the habits of doing a regular workout regimen have been pretty consistent during this time, for there has really been no lapse for me. Not even when I was getting killed filling semis full of useless clothing or the times I had no car at my disposal. I maintained a good schedule. But despite all of these things, all of the changes in the way I have dealt with my fitness, I still cannot shake the problems of my past. I cannot shake the “fat” man that took life so easily. There is a pretty good reason for this….the psychology of my weight loss program had really nothing to do with the consistency of my workouts, but everything to do with how I view myself.
As I have gone through this long journey, I have given up quite a bit. All of the things I have given up have aided greatly to my current condition, and in spite of all the success, I still have trouble with accepting the success. You see, despite the things I can do and the things I am, I constantly compare myself to other people and wish I was them rather than trying to find some content in myself. People rarely talk about fitness jealousy in respect of my mindset, where I see people meet their goals far faster with greater results than myself. Most of the online criticism focuses on the fact that if you get that great body, people are going to talk smack (at least with men). Of course, men are also arguing about what type of body men should have, which is kind of a recent phenomenon since the 1980s when fitness started really hitting the national spotlight. Some articles even claim that posting and talking about your workouts is some form of narcissism. Of course, fitness jealousy is also talked about profusely with women, where people are constantly trying to compare the fitness of older women to their younger counterparts. The other big debate that is tearing up the occasional internet comment board is the acceptance of a “post baby” body, where there is oddly a war about women that accept their newly rounded bodies versus women that strongly hit the gym to shed the pounds. Women also experience fit shaming as well, where if they get too strong they are no longer much of a “woman” (an affliction that was thrown at former first lady Michelle Obama due to her athletic and muscular body). The main question of course, is why should you care in regards to what other people think?
A lot of people have overcome this aspect of the journey, meeting a balance that allows them to continue meeting goals. For me, the problem is the opposite. I am just not content with the results, and right now I am trying a rather difficult calorie restriction as I struggle to get back into my running routine. This sort of condition can be considered “body dysmorphia,” which in my opinion is probably the most dangerous of all the fitness related psychological hang-ups. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/related-illnesses/other-related-conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd For me, the issue is my stomach. While many issues with body dysmorphia exists in non-existent realms, for me the leftover vestiges of my former 400-pound body is a very real problem. I don’t know how long I can really live in the reality that I might need surgery to get the excess removed, but until that day happens I will keep pushing forward. These kind of mindsets are pretty dangerous to deal with, especially when you are taking them alone. This is where fitness can turn into something more than just trying to strengthen and improve your body…it can become a dangerous and unhealthy addiction. Think your arms are not big enough? Work them every day! Trying to compensate for your lack of height? Take steroids so you can get huge muscles! Not the picture of muscular health? Spend every day in the gym for two or three hours a day, take steroids and push yourself to unhealthy lengths! Let’s face it, it is tough to be fit in this country and have a healthy perception of it. People look at Jason Momoa and you think you have to look that way to get the looks of women and the envy of men. And for women the reasoning is more insane, where if you look muscular (like say Serena Williams of now or Martina Navratilova of yesteryear) then you are too manly and not feminine. This can sometimes drive some women away from the gym or from weight work, which is beneficial for many women, especially since weight lifting can strengthen bones as women have a more susceptible threat of osteoporosis later in life. Since politics have thoroughly taken over the country at the moment, the debate of body and what constitutes a real body has been thrown into the ether for the time being. Personally that is a good thing, but of course the debate will always pop up in some way in a head scratching fashion (like honestly, how was Blake Shelton named “Sexiest Man Alive?” Seriously, some people have some dark shades on).
I will admit, this will probably be a struggle for the rest of my life, considering I had issues with body dysmorphia for years, and of course I made the issue worse by eating my feelings. It is a vicious circle to say the least, which is why developing good habits psychologically is key for developing a good fitness regimen that will give you the results you desire. One of the biggest keys that I have read (and have issues with adopting) is to set smaller goals and crush them. As you get these goals accomplished, this can definitely set up a new wave of consistency. I found a pretty good article about consistency and such, and how difficult it can be to develop new habits in life. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201701/why-we-resist-change Take heed on this point…change is freaking hard. We have so many competing stimuli in our lives right now, and consumption of food and products is the biggest one. I mean, those people look so damn happy and well adjusted when they eat that 2,000 calorie burger or scarf down a few dozen brewskis with their buddies. It works the other way too when you see the fit buff guy posing with scantily clad women. This manipulation is pretty deep in my mind, and it probably helps that I don’t watch TV anymore. Either way, the mental battle will always be the toughest aspect of changing your life and your body. Just keep working at it.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.