I’ve been part of a superficial industry for a long time now: the fitness world. After seventeen years of people criticizing my body shape or exercise goals, I came to realize what I wrote below, which is intended for anyone struggling with rejection, minimization, or insults regarding their health and fitness goals.
The message: don’t seek validation outside yourself
I’ve learned that in all areas of life, it’s important to focus on your unique journey and not what others think or say about you. Doing otherwise can lead to a negative self-image and poor mental health.
Only you know all your starting points: the struggles and obstacles you broke through to obtain your current accomplishments. Outsiders don’t see where you’ve come from, only where you are now (compared to others). Strangers, ignorant of or insensitive to your personal story, often devalue, minimize, and/or overlook all the huddles and steps you took to claim your achievements. That is the trap of seeking validation outside yourself: a slippery slope to feelings of inadequacy.
Keep seeking validation (or even simply respect) from others, and soon, you’ll devalue your own trials and achievements.
Outsiders only see the superficial you. Be satisfied with being the sole steward of ALL the knowledge of your personal journey and with being the shepherd of your life.
The fitness community is plagued with individuals suffering from a negative self-image. It is also riddled with people who rank others by the appearance of their bodies rather than by what their bodies can do and for how long someone remains committed to a life of fitness. This reveals a lack of appreciation for the skills, time, and circumstances that play into any stage of health and fitness. This particular fault in the fitness community (and society) goes against the maxims of hard work and dedication that so many of us try to teach our children and that greater society claims to value. This fault has been important to me, as I’ve been a broke single mom for my entire 17-year fitness journey, and I’m often compared to young women with no children, who are married to or dating a personal trainer, who not only trains her, but foots the bills for all kinds of body enhancements, supplements, and services for her (a common scenario). While it’s flattering to be mistaken for a 20-something, the shallow comparison is frustrating, for obvious reasons.
Considering the plethora of different life circumstances, goals, strengths, and weaknesses we all have, very rarely would directly comparing individuals with one another be on a level playing field. Consequently (and obviously), granting any energy to gaining approval from others who are oblivious to your circumstances can lead to a negative self-image and poor mental health — as oftentimes, all you’ll receive is cold rejection and insults. Not to mention, some people are focused on their own goals and don’t have time nor interest in giving you a stamp of approval. For these reasons, the best route for long-term mental health while on your fitness journey or in any life pursuit is to seek and value approval from yourself.
Listen to and watch the video of this message:
As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Affordable Fitness