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Is Self-Judgment Holding You Back From Achieving Your Fitness Goals?

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

I spent roughly seven years competing in the world of bodybuilding. In this journey, there was one thing that I always dreaded – snapping the "before" photos to send to my coaches.

So, I want to share some advice that I give to all my clients:

Don't turn these photos or any other measurement into a source of self-criticism. See them as your baseline - your launchpad. Let go of the emotions tied to these images and measurements and simply see them as markers for tracking your progress on your way to achieving your fitness goals.

Think of these "before" photos as an exciting opportunity you're embarking on!

white woman standing on a bathroom scale, with measuring tape encircling her feet

When we constantly criticize ourselves, besides feeling rotten, we can limit our own potential. The self-flagellation might bring us to avoiding doing things we love - like joining a dance/fitness class, avoiding social events, or even missing out on chances to progress in our career. This negative spiral chips away at our confidence and can keep us trapped in a prison of our own making.

But, what if we replaced self-criticism with self-acceptance or a neutral view of our bodies? The body acceptance movement encourages us to be proud of our bodies, in all shapes and sizes. The body neutrality movement, on the other hand, promotes the idea of acknowledging our bodies without letting our physical appearance define us.

Both of these perspectives can motivate us to join that dance/fitness class, wear the outfit we've been saving for a special occasion, or seize opportunities we've been too shy to take. That's great! But I also feel that these movements have their shortcomings.

Body acceptance can be misunderstood as a reason to neglect one's health or have a careless attitude towards self-care. Body neutrality might unintentionally downplay the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices. Although we should aim to separate our emotions from "before" photos and other measurements, it's difficult to remain completely neutral about our bodies.

I feel like we need to find a balance between being honest with ourselves and being kind to ourselves.

If you tell yourself that everything is fine when things aren't fine - I see a problem in that. Taking "before" photos helps us avoid gaslighting ourselves. We can't deny truth when we look at data points. At the same time, we shouldn't use the information as fuel for self-criticism.

Here's a question someone proposed to me a couple of years ago that I want to share with you:

If you let go of self-criticism, what could you accomplish or experience that you're currently avoiding?

Ask yourself: "If I stopped criticizing myself today, what new possibilities would emerge?" You may discover a version of yourself that's stronger and freer than you ever imagined. ♡

and so the adventure begins


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