last updated March 3, 2021

Why self-worth belongs in every health and fitness plan

by Rob Arthur

There are two problems that most of us struggle with when working to look and feel awesome.

We either don’t know what to do or we know what to do but we just don’t do it consistently.

The first problem *can be* relatively easy to solve.

For example, pretty much any nutritionally adequate dietary strategy can result in fat loss if it’s adhered to.

As a matter of fact, one reason that health and fitness are so confusing is because so many things work for so many people.

Now, this isn’t to say that what we eat and how we train doesn’t matter.

It matters.

It isn’t to say that I don’t have my biases as to what strategies might be the most effective and sustainable.

I do.

The specifics of what make an effective and sustainable strategy, however, aren’t what we’re going to talk about in this post.

That’s not the problem most of us face.

The problem most of face and what we’re going to talk about in this post is why we don’t take action and keep taking action once we’ve started.

Why we can’t seem to take that first step.

Why we keep putting off our plans until “Monday” or after some holiday, party, or other occasion.

Why we quit when we’re “not motivated”.

Why we constantly push the boundaries to see what we can “get away with”.

There are all sorts tips, hacks, and strategies out there for dealing with these problems and making our efforts easier to maintain.

We can choose not to keep certain foods in the house.

We can join a gym between work and home.

We can set an alarm for turning off electronics an hour before bed time.

Shaping our environment can be a powerful tool for sustainable change – especially when getting started.

Removing resistance is often much easier than white-knuckling our way through it.

In a way, though, strategies such as these, that make deviation less convenient, are like putting band-aids on bullet wounds.

They still don’t address the underlying reason why sticking to our habits can be so damn hard.

The bigger problem is what we’re thinking and what we’re feeling in those moments in which we deviate from our plans.

The stories we’re playing out in our heads.

The thoughts and emotions that make us chose the “now” over the “later.

We tell ourselves we’re not going to succeed.

We tell ourselves we won’t be able to handle the discomfort.

We tell ourselves we’re not worth the effort.

When we put things like flavor or entertainment ahead of our fitness goals, we’re telling ourselves we’re not worthy.

This lack of sense of self-worth is the underlying reason why so many of us struggle to be consistent.

It stands in the way of us getting started.

It stands in the way of us keeping momentum.

It stands in the way of us getting back to it after we’ve deviated.

We fight ourselves every step of the way because we aren’t driven by self-love, confidence, and power.

We fight ourselves every step of the way because we’re driven by self-loathing, fear, and weakness.

Having the best diet and training plan in the world won’t matter if we don’t love ourselves enough to actually stick to them.

If we don’t love ourselves enough to accept “pretty good” over “perfect”.

Sure, some of us do hate ourselves into adherence.

We obsess and stress over what we eat and how we train because we hate what we see in the mirror.

In such a situation we might get lean, strong, and have a clean bill of health, but we’ll be miserable.

Simply resigning to poor fitness and ill health, turning a blind eye to how we look and feel, isn’t the solution, either.

This hatred for our bodies is often only a reflection – a manifestation – of how we feel about ourselves.

We tell ourselves we’re too fat, too weak, or too sick because deep down inside we feel empty.

We tell ourselves we’re undeserving.

We tell ourselves we’re unworthy.

There are myriad reasons for why we might feel unworthy, and there are myriad ways to restore this sense of worth.

Below, we’ll cover six steps you can use to stop letting your progress define your worth, and start to let your worth drive your progress.

1. Shift your focus to something other than weight.

So many of us base how we see ourselves, and what kind of day we’re going to have, on whatever number we see on the scale each morning.

If this is you, the first step you can take is to start focusing on progress other than what you see on the scale.

Focus on performance.

Focus on how you feel.

Focus on how your clothes fit.

Focus on anything other than your gravitational pull to the earth.

While this is far from a complete or long-term solution, it’s a step in the right direction.

The less we let an arbitrary number like our weight dictate how we feel about ourselves, the more space we open up to let our true worth shine through.

You’ll also be in a position to better assess your progress, completely separate from your sense of self-worth.

There are so many better ways to assess our worth – and our progress – than weight.

2. Find something about your body that you already like.

Even after we shift our focus from our weight, we may still be looking towards a specific outcome or effect to determine our worth.

Another small step we can take towards focusing on the things that matter is to find something about our bodies that we like already, separate from our efforts.

While you’ll still have some work to do, if you can find things about your body that we like right now, you can build the confidence to keep moving forward.

Maybe it’s your eyes.

Maybe it’s your shoulders.

Maybe it’s your chest or your butt.

Even the texture or color of your skin.

Again, this is far from a final solution, but acknowledging those features that you already like as they are can help break the pattern of only paying attention to things that you want to improve.

Breaking this cycle can help shift your focus away from “what isn’t” and towards “what is”.

3. Find something you like about yourself completely separate from your body.

While changing our perceptions of our bodies is an important step in realizing our worth, that alone won’t take us all the way.

Next, you need to learn to love – or even just like – yourself completely separate from your body.

What’s uniquely likeable about “you”?

Remind yourself of these things.

If you’re having trouble identifying something, get to work.

If you don’t think you’re particularly likeable, work on it.

You don’t have to start humming as you walk and smiling at strangers, but treating others with respect, acting with integrity, and showing consideration are things any of us can do without compromising who we are.

This process doesn’t necessarily have to involve how you relate to others, either.

What’s something you do well?

Do you have any skills, talents, or hobbies?

Again, if you’re having trouble identifying something, work on it.

What hobbies might you take up?

What skills might you practice?

This is actually one of the ways fitness can be a gateway drug to self-worth.

Going to the gym, starting at square one, and working each and every day to improve builds momentum and spills over into other areas of life.

This isn’t to say that getting fit builds worth (more on that in a bit).

Rather, it’s to say that telling yourself “I can be better” and then working towards that “better” acknowledges and uncovers the worth that’s been there all along.

You’re showing yourself that you can be more.

You’re showing yourself that you have potential to unleash.

If you’d like to start with something other than fitness, that’s totally cool, too.

Chances are that whatever you work on will have a ripple effect throughout all aspects of your life, including your efforts to improve how you look and feel.

Your condition is not set in stone.

You can always improve.

You always have potential.

4. Give your time and energy to something other than yourself.

There’s some overlap between this step and the previous, but this step deserves its own considerations.

Giving one’s time to something greater than oneself creates a sense of contribution, a sense of responsibility, and a sense of purpose.

It demonstrates to yourself and to others that you are capable of making the world better.

What are ways that you make others’ lives better, even if only at work or through commitment to your family?

Are there any causes or organizations to which you dedicate your time?

If you struggle to find answers to these questions, how can you get started?

What old friends or relatives can you reach out to?

What causes interest you, to which you might start contributing?

Find a way to serve others, and do it with no expectation of anything in return.

Paradoxically, the less you expect in return, the more rewarding your efforts will be.

Interdependence is one of the highest forms of connection.

5. Let go.

There’s a good chance that your sense of self-worth didn’t simply disappear.

Some of us slip into distress or despair by gradually losing sight of ourselves and our purpose, but often there are external factors involved as.

That is, our sense of self-worth has been injured or hidden from us in some way, by some event or someone.

Seek to identify these things and let go of them.

Forgive those who have wronged you.

Forgive yourself for wronging others.

Resentment is like taking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Self-loathing is even more poisonous.

Resentment and self-loathing do nothing to serve us in the long run, and the sooner and more completely we can let them go the better off we’ll be.

This forgiveness for you, and you alone, so that you can move forward and fulfill your potential.

This step in particular is a challenge.

Finding things to pay attention to other than weight, finding things about our bodies and ourselves that we like, and working towards a greater good can be easy compared to forgiveness.

Yet none of them matter if we don’t let go of the thoughts and feelings that keep us numb, lost, hurt, and isolated from the world.

Do the work.

Let it go.

6. Understand that your worth completely unconditional.

Ultimately, your worth isn’t dependent on anything you do or don’t do.

Your worth is your potential, which is limitless.

Do the best you’ve can with what you’ve got, acknowledging that “the best you can” isn’t the same as anyone else’s.

It’s yours and yours alone.

“Your best” isn’t perfect, either.

It never was.

It never will be.

You’ll do things you’ll wish you hadn’t.

You’ll hurt people.

You’ll make mistakes.

Yet no matter what you do or how your circumstances may change, you always have potential, constrained only by death.

You can always be your best, whatever that looks like.

You don’t need to make any grand gesture or change the world.

You simply need to be you.

That’s all you’ve ever been.

That’s all you’ll ever be.

Be the best “you” possible.

Whoever that is, they’re enough.

You’re enough.

That’s why you’re doing this.

You’re not doing the things you need to do to look and feel awesome to become worthy.

You’re doing these things because you already are worthy.

You’re doing these things because you’re awesome and deserve nothing but the best.

This shift in mindset can be freaking hard.

But it’s worth it.

You’re worth it.

You’ve got this.


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