We are currently living in a world where we are encouraged to look a certain way. There are countless videos and images on social media promoting a certain look or image and how to best achieve the so called perfect looking body. But is health and fitness more than just how we look? What about how we feel.
It is easier for certain fitness companies and self-claimed fitness gurus to promote the way exercise should make us look, as the majority of us are visual communicates. In other words, we prefer to learn visually than audibly and kinaesthetically. That is why Instagram is so popular.
It is a lot harder to promote how you should feel. How can you promote how a certain exercise or food can make you feel. How you feel is more of a personal thing then how you look. Wrongly or rightly we judge people on first appearances. So how we look is important if we want to make a good first impression.
So what is more important? How we look or how we feel?
As someone who has worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years, how I look has played a role in how I am perceived as a fitness professional. To some people how I look gives them or not confidence in my ability to help them improve their own fitness. An out of shape looking fitness professional doesn’t always strike people as good at their job. If they can’t get in shape how are they going to help me achieve what they can’t.
I can confidently say that even though I don’t look as good as I was in my 20s I certainly feel better. More energy, stronger and by far a more improved digestive system (I didn’t so well in my 20s, but who did).
A couple of years ago I took a road trip across the beautiful country of Canada. For anyone who has been there, you will know it is a very much an outdoor type of country. In the span of 16 days, I climbed to the top of breathtaking mountain summits and ran back down them, hiked through amazing woodlands and kayaked on the Pacific Ocean. It was only during these amazing outdoor activities that I realised fully that all the training I have done throughout my 40s has allowed me to enjoy moments like these. And it made me feel great.
It made me feel great because I was fit and strong enough to do these things without thinking about if I could or not. I just did them.
In the end what you truly remember is how something made you feel not how you looked doing it.
So how do we focus on how training hard and eating well make us feel?
I think it starts first with the right type of mindset. What is it you really want to feel? Not what you think everyone else thinks you should feel or look like.
Before you start following any exercise or nutrition plan, you first must have a clear end result in mind. Only then will you know what you are doing is helping you go in the right direction. Without direction, you more than likely just end up going around in circles.
When the right direction is achieved, the next step is to keep track of what you are doing and how it is making you feel. Measure this over a good period of time, as how you feel can be affected by things other than exercise and nutrition. Maybe at the end of each day, you give yourself a score out of 10. The higher the score the more you are feeling the way you want to feel.
Through scoring and recording how you feel, you will end up with a better understanding of what is working or not. Adjust accordingly (it is important at this point not to do a complete overhaul and start following a completely different exercise and nutrition plan).
It might only need slight adjustments to get you closer to how you want to feel.
Feeling better will inevitably make you want to keep doing the things that made you feel better. This, in turn, will help you build a stronger and more positive self-image. With a more positive self-image, you will (in your eye, which is the most important thing) like what you see.
You see, it is not what we see that is important but how what we see makes us feel.
Yes, it is ok to try to look better. But it should be you that decides if you look good, not anyone else.
Your Health Coach, Chris