The Best Mindset Shifts for Better Body Image

True story. During my senior year of high school I gained 15 pounds in 2 months.

How in the world did I let that happen?

Well, it kind of went down like most things that catch us off guard when taken for granted.
I grew up playing sports; basketball, softball, football in the front yard, travel teams and competition leagues. You named it - I played it.

I never had to deliberately think about working out to stay in shape because it was built into my everyday life. But then senior year happened.

My entire focus was on getting into a good school and ending my grade school years on a high note, so in order to focus on that I decided to downsize my distractions.

I needed a break between being a student athlete and the craziness that comes with the first year of college, so I quit the varsity basketball team 3 games into the season, and didn’t go out for the softball team that Spring.

It was magnificent! The 8 hours of practice and 6+ hours for games I usually spent each week were mine again for the first time since the 5th grade.
I had the space I needed to focus on class, pour myself into the college application process and hunt down scholarships.

In every other regard of my life I kept doing what I was doing, like eating as though I was still an active athlete. In as little as two months, THAT showed itself.

One day at a senior class social a friend took a picture of us and posted it on Facebook. When I saw that picture on Facebook for the first time, I was disgusted at the image I saw of myself.

Is that really me? Oh my God, this picture needs to come down right now.

I had ballooned from a lean and fit 137 pounds, to a plump and frumpy-looking 152 pounds.
It really didn’t dawn me how much weight I had put on until I saw this photo of myself muffin-topping my jeans and my sports bra fitting like I’d stuffed my chest into it at gunpoint.

At that moment the body shame switch flipped in my head and I started to compare myself to other girls.
When I ran into old teammates in the halls I noticed how fit they looked. They weren’t spilling over the top of their jeans and still had muscle definition in their arms and legs.

I started to look at myself and think,
“Wow - my body is not like those girls anymore. I’m not as strong or fit as they are anymore. I’m not as pretty as they are anymore.”

That last part was the worst; no longer believing I was pretty because I had gained weight.

I started to think of myself as less than while putting them on a pedestal; not because they were thinner, but because they were fit and strong and all of a sudden I was convinced I wasn’t.

The shame I had about the way I looked hindered me from really enjoying life. I turned down just about every event and activity where I thought people might take pictures.

I shied away from fully participating in my life at a time where I should’ve been cherishing the opportunity to make memories.
At the time I just didn’t realize how big of a deal that was.

Thankfully, things got better before they turned worse.
During my first year of college I made friends with a couple of gym rats who sucked me into what became my anxiety reliever; the gym.
It was my newfound replacement to running bases and basketball courts.

The girl who had gained the freshman 15 her last year of high school, dropped it all by the end of first year at UVA.

I’m sharing this story with you to let you know I get what it feels like to not truly know your self worth and have an ugly opinion about yourself.

You don’t have to allow bad body image to just happen. You don’t have to stop making memories nor avoid fully participating in your life.

The mean things we think about ourselves stem from a poorly used imagination - because they’re not facts. It’s stuff our brain makes up and our subconscious believes. What it takes for us to stop believing those lies is a mindset shift.

To shift my mindset about myself from negative to positive I used 3 tools:
self love, purpose, and selective inspiration.

Self Love

It’s actually work to be positive about the things we dislike about ourselves. In order to start showing self love, we can begin by seeing the simple everyday actions that exemplify it.

Eating well is a form of self love, and gratitude for what our body can do right now nails self love right on the head.
Self love also includes not worrying about what you can’t fix, but having grace with yourself to focus on what you can positively affect at the present moment.

For example, you can either read this blog post and go on about your day thinking no more of it, or you can pick out 1 thing from it that you can start to positively affect right now.

Purpose

Have a direction you want to move in and don’t blindly following someone else. The best advice I have ever been given about how to set personal goals is to first figure out the specifics for what I need to improve, then go about searching for solutions to those specific things.

For example, in my early twenties I struggled with hormone imbalances that made it easy for me to pack on the pounds.
I could’ve gone into the gym and “fitnessed” harder to keep those extra pounds in check – but instead I researched and practiced methods that helped me balance my hormones.

Both directions would’ve brought me to the same conclusion, but can you see which one actually fixed the problem versus the one that only fixed a symptom?

When creating your plan make sure your actions line up with your specific needs and choose the actions that are the most sustainable over the long haul.

Know that having no plan to give your purpose a direction is a recipe for repeatedly starting back at square one.

Selective Inspiration

When faced with something difficult we automatically resort to comparing ourselves to other people rather than automatically brainstorming how we can work through the difficulty – just look at how I initially reacted to weight gain!

We aren’t meant to follow everything that appeals to our eyes.

When we decide to pay attention to people or brands, and even specific schools of thought, it’s essential we draw the line between being inspired by them versus comparing ourselves to them.

Specifically with people, we have to consider the actions they take to have what they have or look the way they look. If drawing the line doesn’t stop you from comparing, put your blinders on.

It doesn’t serve you to beat yourself up about the person you are or the way you look.
You are more than adequate right now. If there is something about your appearance and health you don’t like, find a healthy upbuilding way to change it.

I used those 3 tools when I worked out.

  1. Taking out the time to work on me was an act of self love.
     
  2. Having a plan for what I wanted to accomplish was exercising purpose.
     
  3. Instead of working out to look like someone else, I visualized how I wanted to look, feel, and think as the best version of myself. That was my way of selecting my inspiration.

If I’ve ever done anything that seamlessly wraps up these tools of self love, purpose, and inspiration into one neat package for someone other than myself, I did it with the #GymlesslyFit strength program.

In my mind, it is THE answer to the complaints I hear from women about needing to work on themselves, get stronger without living in a gym, and infuse confidence in their effort to change their body in a way that they’ve never been able to achieve before.

#GymlesslyFit is my 6-week online strength and conditioning program. On a physical level this program isn’t meant to help you “tone”, but designed to help you build physical and mental muscle.

You will rapidly up your current level of fitness by performing shorter high quality workouts (in the ballpark of 35 minutes), that will enhance your body shape by defining your frame.

The best part is if you don’t get down with running (like myself) it helps you to work on your cardio-conditioning without using treadmills and ellipticals!

If you’re worried about “bulking up” in an unattractive way doing this program, don’t be. Instead you will be taking up space in the most gorgeous of ways.

Gymlessly Fit opens to the public June 9th. You can register right now using the sign-up form below.

I’ll end with saying this;
This is your life to live so go ahead and fully live it.
Be a calculated type of crazy.
Don’t hold out because right now is the oldest you’ve ever been and the youngest you’ll ever be again.

 

Jasmine Cabrera

Chisel Training + Health, Charlottesville, VA