Let’s not kid ourselves, one of the reasons you started working out is to look better naked. Sure, the health benefits, the increased energy, the greater functional capacity and the improved mood are a plus, but to achieve the body you want is a major goal for most. Each person has their own vision of what a “perfect body” looks like. They cross-reference that with how much they’re willing to suffer and figure out what they want their body to look like. That can cause a positive or negative self esteem. But is that a healthy way of looking at it? And is that what CrossFit is after?
First, let’s talk about having looks as a goal. There’s already a whole sport revolving the idea of having the perfect body, called “bodybuilding”. Even though people’s idea of what looks good is different, bodybuilding focus on creating a geometrically pleasing body, regardless of what it is capable of. To achieve such body compositions there are extra steps athletes must do, like controlled diet, supplements, and cycles of bulking and cutting (which is often not done in a healthy way). So an advanced bodybuilder looks very different in the bulking phase than in the cutting phase.
In CrossFit, a strong and sexy body is a side effect of our main goal: functional capacity. What we are trying to improve is your athletic performance. Your fitness is what is important to us. It just turns out to be that being fit comes with having a good looking body. And you look like that year-round. But why don’t CrossFit athletes look like other athletes that also focus on functional capacities like powerlifters, runners, baseball players and swimmers? Well it’s mostly because of what we do. We incorporate all of those characteristics. We train all of those attributes. We are not specializing in any modality. We are, instead, ready for anything. The unknown and unknowable.
If your goal is a “perfect body”, that is your end point. Most people’s view is that if you’re not at there, you didn’t make it yet. This usually causes a negative self esteem. It is easy to find some fat in your body to get rid of, or to find a part of your body to get stronger at. At the same time, when we look at performance it is easy to find something to get better at. But the difference is what it says about you. “I still have fat” is very different than “I can’t lift this… yet”. When we focus on performance it’s easier to see the improvements you’ve been making over time. The goal being becoming fitter, stronger, faster; and not the superficiality of looking good. With performance comes looks, not so much the other way around.
Looks are subjective. Performance is universal.
The important message in all of this is self esteem. It is not uncommon for athletes to talk about physical aspects. “I want to lose another 10 inches”, “I haven’t lost any weight in a while”, “I still have long ways to go”. But what they fail to see is that they started with a PVC pipe, and now they can squat heavy weights. Or that they had to walk every time they went for a 200m run and they are now able to run 400m no problem. Or that they are now able to do things, inside and outside the gym, that they weren’t able to do before. Cherish what your body is now able to do because of your hard work. Be proud of your physical capacities, no matter your size or shape. Focus on your fitness and looks will follow.
Self esteem can make or break people and it’s very important for us to look at ourselves with an accepting and supporting scope. Base your view of yourself on your performance, and fitness, and you will enjoy the process, be happier and healthier!
by Coach Matt