Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Body Image Issues

Body dysmorphic disorder is a serious mental illness in which a person obsesses over a real or imagined flaw in their appearance. This obsession leads to significant stress and can greatly impair one’s quality of life. While fortunately most of us will not experience this disorder, many of us will battle body image issues that will lead to depression and impede us from becoming the best versions of ourselves.

I was a skinny kid. When I graduated from high school, I weighed 165 lbs. At 6’3”, that is skinny. I hated my body. I also hated my ears. When the movie Dumbo would play, I felt so self-conscious. Funny to think about now that a Disney movie would make me feel this way. While many did not know, I had a very low self-esteem. I was often depressed over the way I looked.

Like many boys in high school, I lifted weights. Unfortunately, I had no one to teach me the correct way to train, so I saw little success. When I finally started training the right way, I saw results. Now, my body weight stays around 220 lbs at 11% body fat. Still, when I look in the mirror without my shirt, the first thoughts that usually enter my mind are “I’m not muscular enough.” “My chest is to small.” “I’m getting love-handles”. It’s not uncommon for me to have days where I change my shirt a couple times to find the one that doesn’t make me look “skinny”. I frequently ask my wife, “Do I look skinny in this shirt?” I used to wear a swim-shirt because I was worried I would “disappoint” people with the way I looked. I thought people would be surprised by how skinny I was or how little muscles I had for a strength coach. Some family and friends would ask me why I was wearing a swim-shirt to the pool. I would just lie and say I didn’t want to get sunburned.

I know feelings like this are common, especially with women. I sometimes train with a woman who in society’s view has an ideal body. Yet, she frequently talks about her need to lose weight, or “fix” how she looks. I cannot even begin to understand her perceived need, but in her eyes she is flawed.

I need to point out that I’m not suggesting we stop trying to improve ourselves. Believe me, I still want to get stronger and more muscular. That’s a big reason why I train and eat well. What I’m saying is we need to stop obsessing and stressing over it as much as we do. If our body image is depressing us, if thoughts about our flaws are taking up a large amount of time, or even frustrating us to the point we don’t even see the point in trying to better ourselves, then we have a problem.

So, how do we overcome our body image issues? How do we see the good in us, and not the real or perceived flaws? There is no simple answer. Human psychology is complex. Still, I have found the following to be helpful. First, we need to confront our flawed way of thinking. As difficult as it was, I ditched the swim-shirt. I also started training and running with my shirt off. I wrote this blog-post identifying my insecurities. I’m basically saying this is me, like it or not, I don’t care.

Second, we can focus more on performance than on aesthetics. So, instead of worrying about losing “x” number of pounds, concentrate on increasing your squat “x” number of pounds, or decreasing your mile “x” number of seconds.

Third, surround yourself with loving and supportive people. Be around people who build you up and who encourage and support your goals. If there are people in your life who are negative and critical, dump them. Don’t let them around you.

Finally, reach out to support and encourage others. When we turn our focus “outward” instead of “inward”, our concern will be for others and not so much ourselves. Plus, as we help others our own sense of peace and happiness will increase.

None of us are perfect. We are all flawed. That’s okay. So, next time you find yourself in front a mirror, instead of pointing out your perceived flaws, glory in how perfectly imperfect you are.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Here are some of my favorite receipes for healthy snakes. Make sure you visit the links for more info and pictures. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Creame Pie Sandwich
This recipe comes from Kelly Booth.

1/3 Cup Oatmeal
2 Tbsp Stevia
1 Tbsp Cinnamon
3 Egg Whites

•Beat all together with fork (no water needed).
•Pour into hot non-stick pan.
•When cooked on side one, flip like a pancake. Cook until done

Center cream
1/2 Scoop Vanilla Protein.
2 Tbsp of Cold Water

•Cut pancake in half with cream in the middle for an on-the-go protein/carb sandwich.
•Place pudding on top as icing and eat like a cinnamon roll.

Oattie Cookies
Here's a recipe from Jen Keck:

**Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3 cups of dry oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce OR pure canned pumpkin. I prefer the pumpkin!
3 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
**Optional: add 1/8 cup Stevia to sweeten
**Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
**Makes 24 cookies.

Sugar-free Pumpkin Pie
Here is Jen Grasso's sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe.

1 15 oz can Organic Pumpkin
1 14 oz can Unsweetened Coconut Milk (drained) or 8 oz Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
3/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp All Spice
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cloves
¼ tsp Ginger
¾ tsp Stevia
½ tsp Salt
2 Eggs
½ tsp Coconut oil

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Grease a 9” round Pyrex dish with coconut oil. Pour batter in dish and bake at 375 for 60 minutes. Remove when pie is firm but the center may still giggle as it will still cook upon settling. Can top pie with a sugar-free vanilla cocunut milk ice cream and spinkle with cinnamon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Why Most People Fail to Reach Their Fitness Goals

In the movie "Troy", Achilles is about to fight a Thesselonian, a man much bigger than he. Before fighting the giant, he has a brief conversation with the messanger boy. The scene contains one of my favorite quotes.

Messanger Boy: "The Thesselonian you're fighting... he's the biggest man i've ever seen. I wouldn't want to fight him."
Achilles: "Thats why no-one will remember your name."

When you think about your fitnes goals, whether it is to lose 10, 50, 100+ pounds, compete in a bodybuilding show, squat 600 lbs, quit smoking, or eat healthier, are you like the messanger boy who sees the goals as insurmountable? Do you let fear paralyze your efforts? Or, are you like Achilles, full of confidence and ready to overcome the challenge no matter how great?

Achilles obviously knew how great the challenge would be. He could sense that many doubted he could survive his encounter with the great Thesselonian. Yet, he still tried. He "showed up". He knew that in order to be great, he would have to do great (and difficult) things.

I've seen so many people, men, women, athletes, start an exercise program and a clean diet only to fail miserably. Why? Because it's tough. It hurts. It's inconvenient. They all lacked the mental toughness needed to accomplish their fitness goals.

Let's get back to the movie. When Achilles arrives to fight the Thesselonian, he sees his oppponent, fixes his eyes on him, and begins to run towards his opponent. There is no hesitation. The Thesselonian screams! He makes a lot of noise. As Achilles gets closer to the giant, the giant starts his attack. Instead of slowing down, Achilles starts running faster (towardsd the very person no one else dared to fight). He never takes his eyes off the giant. Here's the scene:

As with Achilles, as we get nearer to the Thesselonian (our goals), the challenges will likely get greater and even louder. The challenges and obstacles may not be flying spears and giants with swords, but they will be harmful nonetheless. Whether it is self-doubt, impatience, laziness, injury, lack of a support system, all can impede us from being the type of person we want to become - a healthy strong individual. We need to first set goals, then have confidence we can accomplish them. We need to focus on the goals ignoring the naysayers and distractions. Mental toughness is required. As we get closer to our goals, we must not waiver, but run faster, deflecting the obstacles that are in our way, with our eyes fixed on what we want to accomplish.

So, my question to you is, will they remember your name?