Hello. I’m 5’7” and weigh 163 pounds. I have approximately 25% body fat. At this height, I have weighed as little as 145 (at age 15) and as much as 230 (at age 20). Now, what does that mean?
Weight is a measure of force that gravity exerts upon a body, commonly taken as a measure of mass.
Cool. Physics. But what does that mean in more human terms?
It is a sum of all the things in and on your body, including but not limited to: your bones, your muscle mass, and your fat mass. It is not a measure of your worth, your lovability, your attractiveness, your strength, your work ethic, or anything else.
What do I see when I look in the mirror?
On a bad day, I see loose skin, stretch marks, short legs, a prominent ribcage, and a not-flat stomach. I see the effects of having gained and then lost 90 pounds.
What don’t I see?
I don’t see my compassion. I don’t see my sense of humor. I don’t see my perseverance. I don’t see the people who love me. I don’t see the things I’ve accomplished.
Because just like your worth is not measured on a scale, your worth is not visible in the mirror. The mirror does not show that I’ve completed a Tough Mudder or that I can squat 225 pounds. It doesn’t show that I’ve battled depression and anxiety. It doesn’t show that I’m a personal trainer.
Now, if I browse the hashtag #personaltrainer on Instagram, I can see lots of things. I can see a lot of bodies with six packs. I can see lots of well-developed glutes. I can see lots of defined backs and narrow waists. I see good lighting and nice filters and post-workout pumps.
Are these people better than me? Are they better trainers because they have “better” bodies? Are they more qualified because they have a six-pack where I have squishiness and loose skin?
They are not better people.
They are not worse people, either. They aren’t better or worse trainers. They aren’t necessarily more or less qualified. They don’t have the same journey as me, because no one has the same journey as another. They haven’t had the particular peaks and valleys and twists and turns I’ve had. Now, the same goes for you. Do you look in the mirror and see your less-than-perfect parts? Skinny arms? Saddlebags? Flat butt? Love handles?
Maybe those skinny arms are from when you were working 80 hours a week to pay off your student loans and you couldn’t get to the gym.
Maybe those saddlebags are from when you gained weight in that second pregnancy.
Maybe that flat butt is the same one your mother and grandmother have.
Maybe those love handles are from when the love of your life crushed you and you turned to food for comfort.
Can you change these things? Of course! With a good diet and exercise program, you can change and morph your body in a myriad of ways. However, there’s one secret people don’t tell you about body transformation, whether it’s muscle gain, fat loss, or both.
If you hate your body at the beginning, you’ll hate your body at the end.
If you look in the mirror and nitpick every flaw you see, you’ll do the same thing when you’ve gained or lost the weight you want to.
Your body is not you. Your body is your physical presence in the world. It’s significant, of course. We are visual creatures, and we judge others on their appearance. But your physical appearance is just one aspect of you, and in order to achieve health in both body and mind, you have to remember that your body is just one of the many things that make up You, the Human Being.
If your desire to change your body comes from a place of self-loathing and anger, then guess what? Changing your body isn’t going to solve your problems. Before you begin on any body transformation, acknowledge that you are not your body. You may not love the way your body looks, but you need to love what it does for you. It houses you, holds you up, allows you to walk, bend, move, exist. Respect your body. Treat it well. Know that changing your body won’t change your mind.
Live, Love, Lift
Hannah Penfield (Quadzilla) is not a medical expert in the field of nutrition, but is a certified personal trainer. The opinions expressed here are just the opinions of Hannah Penfield as a result of personal experience with herself and those who have sought help from her, as well as her experience as a trainer.