It’s common for us to look at ideas, issues, concepts, others, and ourselves through a black and white lens. This makes it easier for us; it makes us feel more secure and in control, as if everything has strictly defined order. However, in my own personal experience and those of my clients and loved ones, the majority of happenings in life fall into the grey category.
Standing steadfastly in one dogmatic camp is extremely common in the health and fitness industry, and with these extreme views often comes a lot of attention. However, I believe that by removing the nuance of each situation, idea, or circumstance, we’re doing ourselves a great disservice.
Looking at people, events, or concepts through a black and white lens means we’re only looking at the surface, and it dismisses the depth of the issue.
When it comes to aesthetic goals, it’s common for people to fall into one of two categories: those in pursuit of a challenge, a practice in discipline, and who understand the physical outcome is transient and superficial, and those who pursue them out of an attachment of their appearance to their self-worth, value, or in an effort to impress others.
The same goal and actions on the surface, yet two very different sets of intentions.
When it comes to tracking food, weighing ourselves, or utilizing any other metric to monitor and track objective progress, it’s common for people to fall into similar camps. I.e. those who are seeking control or don’t trust themselves or their bodies and those who can look at the results objectively and without any attachment to their worth.
One methodology, yet two different sets of intentions.
When meal-prepping, the two camps are often those who want to exercise control over their food due to a lack of trust or disconnection to their bodies (i.e. the wheels will fall off the bus without the strict system) and those who want to have healthy food available quickly, to save time, and to feel better physically.
One process, yet two different sets of intentions.
Exercise, especially the more intense variety like Crossfit or long-distance races, can be completed out of a desire to be challenged physically and mentally and for the enjoyment, whereas another may pursue this activity in an attempt to punish oneself for food choices or in hopes of achieving external validation and accolades.
One activity, yet two different sets of intentions.
Someone can appear as the perfect image of health on the surface but be wrought with a lack of self-worth, disconnection to their body, or due to the pursuit of perfection or external validation.
Alternatively, someone may be enjoying a diet that includes a decent amount of processed foods, and they’re in the process of overcoming an overly restrictive relationship with food. If someone were to judge their eating behaviors on the surface, they would likely label this person as unhealthy, lazy, or disconnected, when they’re really in a process of healing.
The version of me ten years ago engaged in some of the habits I engage in today, including meal prep, cooking many of my meals at home, and working out regularly, yet my intentions back then were rooted in an obsession with changing my appearance, the pursuit of perfection and external validation, and a means of exercising control.
Today, these habits are driven by a desire to treat my body, mind, and spirit with self-respect and nourishment, in addition to enjoyment and the love of a challenge (Hello, crossfit).
When it comes to making personal choices for your health and fitness, I often don’t care what you’re doing—I care why you’re doing it. Focus on the intentions behind your actions, and if they’re rooted in a foundation of negativity or hustle for value and worth, you’ve found your work.
The work is always beneath the surface.