Baby Steps: How I Deal With My Body Image Issues
The Three Extremes
I’ve never had an ideal body. Genetically I am predisposed to carry fat in my stomach and hips (thanks mom). I never cared when I was in grade school, but when I changed schools in middle school I started to listen to my peers. I got picked on a lot for being a short chubby kid. I was easy prey!
That experience very much shaped how I think about myself. I still see myself as a short chubby kid regardless of how I actually look. I got into fitness in eighth grade to help fix what everyone else thought was wrong with me, which led me to where I am today.
In high school I joined wrestling which helped me lose weight. I felt like I looked great, but I felt terrible physically. I was starving myself for days at a time to make my weight class, and I was binge eating when I had a few days off.
To this day I follow similar eating patterns. When I get hungry I either eat to the point of sickness, or I choose not to eat. Whether I choose not to eat or eat to the point of feeling sick I regret my decision.
By the time I started college I had experienced two of the extremes of my body. I had been clinically obese, and I had also been 5% body fat. In college I decided to hit the third extreme in my fitness.
I started lifting weights six days a week for three hours a day and eating a lot of calories. I was training to be a bodybuilder. I knew that being super skinny was not sustainable for me, but I also couldn’t accept my normal body. I put on 30 pounds of muscle in two years.
Despite this I still was not happy with my body. I would look in the mirror every day and be disappointed. I would see my shoulders and wonder why they wouldn’t grow. Why was my left bicep so much smaller than my right? I look at my body as a body builder with perfect symmetry in mind, and never quite meet my own expectations.
What I do About My Body Image Issues
It wasn’t until I met Tyler and Morgan at Titanium Performance that I realized my body composition and eating issues. The truth is, I will never be happy with my body. I will always carry fat in my stomach and hips (thanks mom), I still have a tendency to eat 500 calories one day and 4000 the next, and I look in the mirror every day and wonder why my deltoids won’t grow.
Our experiences shape us. We, however, can’t let our experiences define us. I am more than a guy who has bad eating habits and a little bit of a dad bod that is more than a little disproportionate. I am, however, Tim. I am strong, I am smart, and I am caring. I want to be 180 pounds with 5% body fat, but if I were to reach that goal I likely would still see some flaw. Every stop in my fitness journey has disappointed me, and I doubt reaching that ideal would change that.
The past three months I have tasked myself with being ok with my body. I have tried to manage my eating. I wake up and choose not to look in the mirror some days. It starts with small changes. I will never be ideal, that isn’t who I am. If I was perfect what kind of trainer would I be?
My imperfections have made me the trainer I am. They fueled my early love for fitness and made me more empathetic towards different body types. It is difficult to see my body in a positive way, and I am OK with that! The only thing I can do is see the small wins. Baby steps.
What Should You do About Your Body Image Issues?
I am by no means qualified to tell you what you should do or feel in regards to your mental health. I do not have a degree in psychology nor do I want one. What I can tell you, however, is that everyones journey is unique. You can’t compare your journey to mine, a celebrity’s, a friend’s, or a professional athlete’s. They have all gone through their own journeys with self acceptance. Its your turn now.
While I do not know your journey, I can encourage you to take small steps. An example of a small step is meal planning. Meal prepping is awesome, but its a big step to plan a whole week of food. Start with a small goal. Plan one meal a week. Make easy meals to grab out of the freezer.
Making big changes all at once makes it easier to fall back into old habits, so I encourage you to make one small change. Work on accomplishing one small goal, reach that goal, and set a new goal. Find some people like Tyler and Morgan to support you. Most importantly remember that you are perfect the way you are, and if you decide to make a small goal do it for yourself not someone else.
Written by Tim Jerabek