“We aren’t here to chase after things, we are here for the motion” Chris Moore
Our self image often drives our actions. We live in an era in which the image is captured, edited and posted within seconds. The era of the “selfie”. A practice so popular it has sparked the development of a long stick which can reach out and take a photo of ourselves.
Social media has changed our perception of the photograph. Once photos were taken, developed and stored in an album. Then secured on a book case to be viewed only by close friends and family. Now we are in a media driven society where the image is cropped, edited and displayed as if to say “look, how good I am doing” or ” look how good I look”. These images aren’t reality.
Social media isn’t all bad and it’s the way we are heading; However, often we fall into a trap, I call the “Instagram” effect. We begin to compare ourselves to the people we see on social media. We compare ourselves to the six packs, bulging arms and barreled chests. We see these images and one of two things happen. One, it motivates us to improve. Or, Two, we fall into the “all or nothing”category, where we think “I can never look like this guy, why even bother”. We become self conscious and we believe we have already failed before we’ve even started. This will take the wind out of your sails before you even start your fitness journey.
What we don’t see in the images is the work needed to look a certain way. We don’t see the long hours in the gym, the strict meal plans and the 3am wake up calls. And, we need to consider that many of the people we see in these images are in a different situations than us. They can be on different stages of their fitness journey. They might not have kids or a job. Their job may be to workout. We may be comparing ourselves to a professional athlete or body builder. For example, the model for the featured image on this post is a close friend of mine who has competed in natural body building. These athletes will be able dedicate much more time than us fathers to the fitness game. We need to be realistic. We need to understand fitness goes beyond the aesthetic.
If your goal is to chase aesthetics you will never be happy with yourself. Your drive needs to go deeper than that. Your perspective needs to be bigger than that. We need to focus on what we can do with the body we’ve been given and the time we have. Chasing an image will cause you to give up before the fight is over, it will crush your drive. So, what can we chase?
1) Chase a feeling
Exercising makes you feel good. After a workout your body releases endorphins which will help you relax and destress. Also, Feeling strong is a critical benefit. If you feel strong it will carry over to other aspects of your life. When you challenge yourself in the gym you will challenge yourself in life. Also, exercising assists in sleeping, mood, and overall happiness.
2) Chase performance
Evaluate yourself on how much you’ve improved in your actions. Focus on how much our improved your sit ups, push ups, and lifts. Perform better with every workout, with every action you make progress. Focus on that progress, it will drive you toward bigger and better actions. Your ability to move will allow you to further enjoy life and keep up with your kids.
3) Chase longevity
You can’t post a picture of your healthy heart, not sexy. But, your health is the most valuable asset you have. Just ask anyone who doesn’t have it. The ability to be there and watch your kids grow relies on your health. And, guess what, exercising makes you healthier! Your quality of life quickly out paces six pack and glory muscles.
If you stick to a program, you will begin to look and feel better. The aesthetic will slowly happen. Your fitness program needs to go beyond the aesthetic. The reality is in life there is no one to “like” your post, no filters to alter your image, no stranger to comment on your progress. It’s just you, the weight, the run, the drive. Life is where you push it, pull it or fall in your face trying. It’s where we better ourselves not for the admiration on social media but for ourselves and our family. Not everything in life is as perfect as the “instagrammed” photos we see. Life is full of challenges. Face them for you, not for the social media stranger. Remember, you aren’t only building your body, your building your family as well.
Photograph by Pat Lee Photography
Model: Ken George