Beyond Body Image

When the pandemic struck and gyms closed, the wave of anxiety I felt was real. How can I maintain my fitness now? With no access to weights, I was afraid to go back to looking skinny like I did when I was a teenager. 

So I started to invest in a few dumbbells to workout at home. There was also this tennis court in my friend’s neighborhood and we decided to give it a go. 

Not very long, I had to give up this new sport because my Achilles tendonitis started to act up again.

This made me realize a few things:

1. For the past 10 years, I became addicted to working out to feel good about myself. I let my body image take control of my happiness and self-worth. I even went as far as to become a fitness coach to teach others to do the same!

2. Body image is fragile. It’s temporary and it’s a constant uphill battle just to maintain my peak state. It would be impossible to be at 10% body fat, carry 85 pounds of lean muscle mass and Power Clean 225lbs for the rest of my life.

It’s true when they say that the pandemic is a time to pivot. COVID-19 has changed so many things in our lives. It’s taken so many things from us–our loved ones, our jobs and even some of the values we hold on to.

I wasn’t immune to these losses.

As a fitness coach, I held on to volatile values. Working out to look good and feel good aren’t wrong. Fitness can be fulfilling and even life-saving, but by itself, it lacks stability when tough times roll in.

I know that anchoring my self-worth and happiness to my body image didn’t give me the strength I need to power through these challenging times.

To pivot, stay motivated and consistent with my fitness journey as well as being a coach, I needed to transform my “body image” goals into something greater, something more purposeful and sustainable.

Today, after many months of recurring injuries, introspection and isolation, I strive to build a body that expresses reliability, sustainability and balance—to be fit for the long run.

Instead of trying to look good to feel good about myself, I try to look good to feel empowered in the process. Instead of using this power to impress, I use this power so I can show up for others.

Measuring our success in fitness isn’t solely determined by how good we look, how strong we feel or even how healthy our blood markers are.

Much more important, especially in trying times, is how we anchor to something greater than ourselves. Indeed, to love is to let go and self-love is no different. When we detach from ourselves, we can finally show up for others.

And at a time when we need to show up for others (even through distancing), going beyond our body image may be the least (and best) thing we can do.

How are you transforming your fitness goals? I’d love to hear your inspiring story!

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