Liberated from My Obsession with Looks by a Revelation
Your body is valuable. This is your vehicle for awakening. Handle it delicately. ~Buddha
What immediately comes to mind when you hear or see the word fitness? Can you imagine an Olympic powerlifting athlete, gymnast, or swimmer? The way we perceive and react to the concept of fitness has a significant impact on both our physical and mental well-being.
Since I was young, I’ve always linked good health with being physically fit. In my mind, being in better shape meant being healthier. I was constantly bombarded with society’s idea of perfection. And thus, the pursuit of fitness became an elusive goal that could never be attained.
I feel strong and healthy, I thought to myself. I viewed my physical appearance as a testament to my continuously improving well-being. I thought that enduring fatigue and sore muscles was necessary for achieving optimal health.
People from all walks of life, including those close to me and even strangers, consistently praised my physique. This further ignited my motivation to keep enhancing my fitness.
Similar to a house, cracks in the foundation gradually become troublesome over time. It may take some time before the cracks are noticed. However, one day, signs of leaks started to emerge after a heavy rain.
Opting for meals that are rich in calories but lacking in nutritional value. Drinking shakes is devoid of any pleasure. Mealtime had lost its joy as I found myself meticulously planning and tracking my nutrient intake solely to meet my muscle growth goals, rather than simply eating when hungry.
Although my appearance was satisfactory, I was not experiencing a sense of well-being. “What is the matter with me?” I pondered. I embarked on a quest for answers.
Could my testosterone levels be low? Could my sleeplessness, depression, anger, and anxiety be attributed to any chemical imbalances?
We often come across these common statements: Improve your mood through exercise! Physical activity can greatly improve your sleep quality! A healthy physique leads to a sharp intellect!
I overlooked the fissures in the foundation for a period of time. It was a breeze with all the glowing reviews I was getting. I continued to deceive myself, convincing myself that this was true happiness. I am filled with joy!
I have the opportunity to explore many different places. I find great pleasure in experiencing different cultures and connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds. However, traveling in the past posed a challenge: it disrupted my exercise routine, which hindered my goal of achieving better fitness.
Even getting ready for a trip became quite a challenge. I would locate fitness centers at my destination and make sure that the schedule or itinerary could accommodate my workouts.
I never realized that there might be an underlying problem with my exercise routine, fitness level, and physical appearance. This is because society and the people around me constantly reassured me that I was perfectly healthy.
The Situation Continues to Deteriorate
Fitness does not grow exponentially. On the contrary, it is quite the opposite. Acquiring “gains” is relatively easier when starting out but becomes less fruitful as time goes on. Even with a solid understanding of this concept from a biological standpoint, logic did not prevail.
Over time, the results of my efforts became less noticeable. Preserving the foundation I had established required meticulous consideration of nutrition and other activities. Put simply, my physical appearance began to dictate my every action.
Unaware of the true nature of the situation, I concluded that my hormones were to blame for my confusion. Although my testosterone levels were slightly lower, they were still within a normal range. Despite this, I made the bold decision to delve into the realm of TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) with the hope that it would provide me with the necessary boost. (Please be aware that this was done under the guidance of a medical professional.)
Once more, the external validations started pouring in. However, a more significant event occurred. I started experiencing the consequences of this newfound enhancement through various side effects.
A Fresh Perspective: The Unexpected Side Effect
At this point, my entire life revolved around my pursuit of greater fitness. However, I started questioning whether I truly desired to pursue this path indefinitely. I then had a moment of realization.
The side effects and challenges associated with TRT were a much-needed wake-up call. I started to carefully examine my objectives. I inquired, “Are these objectives benefiting me as a complete individual?” How did I end up so far from my intended path? What factors, driven by my dedication to fitness and personal development, contributed to my current course? What is happening to my body?
I had a sudden realization that I had mixed up the concepts of fitness for health and wellness. And what’s even more important is that I began to realize that achieving “fitness” should never come at the cost of emotional and mental well-being. Being fit does not necessarily mean being healthy.
For some, this may seem obvious. I was aware of the existence of anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Little did I know that the phenomenon I was experiencing was much more common than one could imagine.
From a young age, we are taught that being fit is synonymous with strength, speed, and power and that it is a visible attribute. Wow, this is completely inaccurate.
We are often encouraged to engage in physical activity and are reminded of the numerous benefits it brings. Exercise is beneficial when done in moderation. Nevertheless, there is a growing concern about the negative impact of unhealthy exercise on a large population globally. The fascination with extraordinary physical strength has transitioned from being virtually non-existent to alarmingly widespread in the last 50 years.
It can be difficult to distinguish between a healthy exercise routine and one that is excessive, as fitness often appears to be a positive pursuit. We often make assumptions about someone’s health based solely on their physical appearance without considering the full picture of their well-being.
As previously stated, excessive focus on calorie intake and potentially unhealthy eating habits are prevalent in the “fitness” community.
There are various shades of body dysmorphia, which is a mental health condition characterized by excessive concern about one’s appearance (Mayo Clinic).
Coming to terms with my struggle with body dysmorphia brought a mix of liberation and frustration. It was liberating to finally see the real cause of my challenges. It was quite disheartening, as I experienced a sense of helplessness on multiple fronts.
At some point, the results of my exercise became a validation of my worth and purpose. Indeed, while it is certainly beneficial to possess strength and fitness, there came a time when that objective was far in the past.
A Fresh Outlook
The side effects were a wake-up call, prompting me to take action. Through my personal experience in my work, I have learned that it is possible to change one’s perspective, despite the challenges it may present. So I decided to take it upon myself.
The process was not as efficient as expected. Learning again involves both biological and emotional processes, as the creation of new neural pathways takes time.
I began to perceive fitness as something beyond just the combination of strength and speed. What if I consider the aspects that are often overlooked: my physical and emotional well-being?
I reconsidered my values and began ensuring that my goals aligned with them.
I had to adopt a fresh perspective when it came to fitness and self-improvement, focusing on internal growth rather than external factors. The ultimate aspiration was to experience a sense of completeness, satisfaction, and adequacy.
Previously, I experienced a significant lack of energy and felt exhausted. I experienced a profound sense of emptiness, shallowness, and confusion. External factors were what motivated me. I had a complete lack of regard for my own body.
After some time, I have come to view physical activity from a fresh perspective. It is now clear to me that it plays a crucial role in maintaining the optimal functioning of my body. I prioritize my relationship with food by focusing on its role in fueling my body, connecting with nature, and providing essential nourishment.
Can you please provide me with your current location? Today
I challenge myself physically, but in a different manner than I used to. Today, I am fully embracing the sanctity of my physical being. I work out multiple times per week, but I pay close attention to my body’s signals. Feeling sore and fatigued? Take it as a sign that it’s time to give your body some well-deserved rest.
I think that health should be the main focus, with fitness being a natural result. For me, fitness goes beyond mere appearances. Fitness is an integral part of my overall well-being, encompassing both my physical and emotional states. Being fit means feeling complete.
The enhanced connection I have with myself is proving to be incredibly valuable. I have seen significant improvements in my relationships with those who are dear to me. I find comfort in the presence of others, as I do not rely on their validation to enhance my self-esteem.
I understand that there will be both positive and challenging times. However, now that I have experienced a sense of tranquility and serenity, I am optimistic that the positive aspects will surpass the negative ones.
I have a strong bond with my body. I now regard it as distinct and exceptional.
“Your MASTERY OF LIFE begins the moment you break through your prisons of self-created limitations and enter the inner worlds where creation begins.”Dr. Jonathan Parker
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