Pedalled by big business, the media and cultural expectations, we are all sold the same image of happiness: lean, toned and beautiful. When we see thin celebrities, fitness models and social media influences looking blissful and perfect, it’s hard not to equate being fit with success. This is only perpetuated by ads for fad workouts and weight-loss supplements, showcasing confident and beautiful “afters” as proof of their supposed efficacy.
But the fair facade is our fault, too. We only put our best selves on social media, carefully editing and curating our lives from perfectly-lit angles to show others how fit and happy we are. It’s hard to ignore these messages and not compare, telling ourselves that if we could just look a certain way, then perhaps we, too, would finally be confident and comfortable in our own skin.
If only it were that simple. Many people, even after putting in the time and effort to change their bodies and get into shape, are left feeling just as insecure as they were before they began hitting the gym. How is this possible?
Here are just a few reasons why you may still be feeling insecure, even after getting in shape — and what to do about it.
Being In Shape Doesn’t Mean Having It All
When we focus so much on looking a certain way, we aren’t necessarily dealing with the real issues behind our insecurities. Instagram photos of perfect fitness models hide the real truth — that no matter how hard we work out, being in great physical shape doesn’t necessarily mean your life will suddenly be perfect. Having a rock-hard body doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get more dates, or score that big promotion at work. To be sure, getting in shape takes a lot of effort, but working on your confidence and having the courage to go after other successes in life besides physical fitness is a whole different ball game.
We can change the way we look to the outside world, but we also have to change the way we look to ourselves. That’s because confidence doesn’t come from how you look on the outside; it comes from within. It’s a mental state of being, and no amount of exercise will change that.
We are all sold the same image of happiness: lean, toned and beautiful.
‘In Shape’ Looks Different For Everyone
Being fit sometimes looks like a six-pack and an incredible bikini body — but it can also look like a size 12 who is able to run a personal best in a half marathon. “In shape” doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, and it’s important to remember this and to keep a positive attitude. If we are constantly looking and comparing ourselves to others, we will never feel secure. The only person we can compare ourselves to is ourselves and who we were yesterday. Remembering how far you’ve come — rather than comparing yourself to others —can offer an incredible boost of self-confidence.
Many of us have an image in our head of what the “perfect” body looks like, even though we all know that perfection is unattainable. Striving (and failing) to achieve the so-called perfect body can lead to negative feelings and insecurity, as well as restrictions and obsessions that take away our enjoyment of life. Let go of being perfect, and work on being proud of your perfectly imperfect self.
Doing It For The Wrong Reasons
This one may be hard for many of us to admit, but the truth is that many of strive to “get in shape” is so that we can look a certain way. While it’s perfectly acceptable to want to look your very best, if you’re only focused on the physical, you’ll lose sight of the plethora of other benefits that come along with great fitness.
Feeling strong, having more energy, sleeping better and fighting off disease are just a few of the perks that are arguably more important than having a flat tummy or a thigh gap. When we focus on all the other reasons to get in shape, and not just to look great, we start to feel great about ourselves — and thus feel confident and secure.
It takes time, effort and self-love to get in shape, but this is only a small part of the confidence equation. Lace up those shoes, put on your workout gear and move your body with the goal of being the best version of yourself — inside and out. Pretty soon, you’ll learn to not just love the body you worked so hard for, but to appreciate, acknowledge and admire the person who worked so hard to get there.