Self-scrutiny is something anybody can fall prey to. And at times, it can be healthy. In CrossFit, we learn to perfect our form, improve our performances, and constantly progress. But when it comes to our bodies, self-scrutiny can be a dangerous and powerful emotion.
Regardless of your athletic participation, body type or gender, it’s easy to envy a body you admire. But sometimes the mind takes thing too far and unrealistic aspirations begin to brew. Although CrossFit has a huge focus on health, like anybody else, CrossFit athletes can succumb to body image issues that can seriously affect their psychological state. As a community, we do a great job of encouraging a strong and fit body over an under or overweight frame, but we still place what we perceive as perfect bodies on a pedestal. We may not bow down to lanky supermodels, but we can’t deny the constant CrossFit barrage of six-packs and hard-as-rock rears. We need to remember that like boxes, every person is unique, and it’s better to embrace what we have than to envy what we want.
Proactively fending off envious ideas begins with having a realistic reaction to what you see in the mirror. Your bone structure, your natural build and your genetic predispositions are things that can’t be altered with WODs. Welcome what you see and aim to change only what you can. If you’re unhappy with your belly, begin a nutrition plan that will allow you to reduce your body fat percentage. But don’t for a moment allow yourself to see a six-pack and think you must have that to achieve success. And avoid comparing yourself to others around you. Comparative calculations should only apply to you, and your then and now state. Determine first what is possible as a unique individual, then formulate a plan based on your personal potential alone.
If you find yourself inadvertently engaging in negative self-talk based on another person’s body, redirect those thoughts of envy. Positivity, like any other attitude, is a habit that must be learned and practiced. Take note of visual cues that create uncomfortable feelings and learn to take that attention and shift it from obsessing about somebody else’s perfect posterior, to formulating a recipe for the perfect Paleo meal that evening. Rather than react to something or someone you can’t control, keep consistently positive self-dialogue with healthy and attainable personal goals and achievements.
At times, it can be impossible to fend off feelings of envy. And when they begin to be overwhelming, it might be time to ask for a little assistance. It might mean a simple pep talk from a coach or friend, or it might be better to seek out a professional to talk through things. There’s nothing as beneficial as an unbiased and educated opinion when it comes to your psychological state, and it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
One major concern associated with body envy is body dysmorphia disorder. It’s a fairly widespread psychological condition related to a person’s inaccurate perception of their own body, and can is often linked to eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia, and obsessive exercising. If body envy begins to consume your thoughts, or you know somebody who seems to obsess about achieving the look of a body not their own, address it with care and compassion to alleviate what could become a very serious issue.
Envy can be an ugly virus that quickly sickens the mind. Your rear may not rock white booty shorts quite like Stacy Tovar, and your torso may not dawn a 16-pack like Rich Froning, but that’s okay. You weren’t meant to mirror anybody so ignore the tendency to want what may not be possible, and instead, target a balance of mind, body, and spirit that keeps you happy and healthy.