Like most people, I started working out because I wanted to look better and feel better about myself.
I was 16, had just spent four years with braces, had plenty of acne, and recently got cut from the basketball team. Let’s just say I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin, and my confidence was certainly lacking.
So, I figured if I could build some muscle and get stronger, it would be an opportunity to change how I was viewed by others. I saw stronger, bigger people who had the confidence and charisma I lacked, and set my sights on becoming them through exercise. This is what got me started, and kept me going for years.
Now, over my dozen years or so learning about health and fitness, and now 6+ years of building Nerd Fitness, it’s been a personal odyssey to learn what truly creates lasting healthiness, self-confidence, and happiness.
To say I’ve learned a lot would be an understatement.
Just as you can be in poor shape and lack confidence, so too can you be in incredible shape and still be miserable and lack confidence.
Molly Galbraith, co-founder of Girls Gone Strong and one of our interviewees in the Nerd Fitness Academy, wrote a fantastic article about her experiences as a fitness model and how it didn’t result in the happiness she expected.
In interacting with thousands upon thousands of people through Nerd Fitness, I’ve realized we don’t strive to look a certain way just for the sake of the look. Instead, we also want achieve a certain status in our social groups, be seen as attractive, or sometimes just fit in. Feeling out of place or at the bottom of the totem pole isn’t very fun.
Although I started out aiming for a certain look, what I was REALLY after was happiness, confidence, and self-respect.
Wanting to look good can be a strong and positive force in getting us started and keeping us moving forward. It was for me. And I’m sure it is for MANY Nerd Fitness Rebels.
Even today, I do still focus on taking pride in my appearance and wanting to look the part of a guy who owns a fitness company! However, it has taken a back seat to the joy I get from exercise and the excitement I feel from making strength gains and continually leveling up in the gym.
Along with having fun and seeing progress, it’s helped build a level of self-confidence (and inner strength) I had always lacked.
As Henry Rollins said: “I have never met a truly strong person who didn’t have self-confidence.”
All of that to say, I don’t care what helps you get started with exercise, even if it’s a purely physical goal of wanting to look better.
However, if we’re not careful when using JUST external appearance as a singular goal all of the time, things can go too far down the path to the dark side. One day, we could wake up and realize that we’ve pushed the whole “confidence and happiness” thing to the side in favor of unhealthy and unsustainable behavior all for the sake of a smaller waistline. D’oh!
The line between confidence and obsession