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  • Writer's pictureMuscle Nation

I Can't See Myself. Neither Can You.

That's the problem with looking in a mirror or at a photograph. Sure, we can see a bit, but so much of what we envision in our minds is composed of bits of truth and bits of imagination.

Body dysmorphia is rampant in and out of the gym. It's easy to identify it in others but far more difficult to see it in ourselves.

Think about it. We've all see the tough-guy type who tosses around weights and acts like he's 285lbs (only he's more like 135lbs). Or the person who thinks they're fat when they're not. Body dysmorphia can be innocuous as well but it can also be a danger.

(You see that photo? I just took it. Maybe you think I look good. To me I see muscle atrophy. I see my arms and pecs have gotten smaller, my traps look almost non-existent. I've got a bit more fat around my outer obliques (my trouble-spot). I need to trim my beard. And maybe a smile would be nice?)

When I started training for my first competition I bought a scale. It was a big deal, not just for me (because I've never been able to truly tell if I'm "big" or not). It was a big deal for my wife who has dealt with a lot more in that regard. And it was a concern for me that our kids would put emphasis on how much they weigh.

I bought the scale because I needed to diet and I needed to make sure I wasn't losing too much weight too quickly. It's still in our bathroom today. Our kids are free to use it but they rarely do. As much as fitness is part of my life and as a result my family's, we don't talk about it nearly as much as we talk about love, equality, helping others, family, and fun stuff.

Introspectively I still see myself as the scrawny high schooler wearing glasses and reading Dante's Divine Comedy during lunch period; the kid who ate all day and night and still couldn't gain any muscle or fat...just skin and bones. When I look in the mirror I still see that dorky kid. And sometimes it's shocking to me that others think I'm muscular. In fact, I have very little notion of how I look to my kids but I know they love me.

There is no accurate way to see oneself and photographs don't help. In fact, they make it worse because a photograph is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional object. It disperses and stretches, flattens and thickens as the light is captured. Our minds then takes that info and distort it to somewhat resemble truth yet our minds also fill in so much more. And where do our minds get that info? Our psychology.

So please remember that we cannot truly see our own bodies. If you find yourself getting caught up in your mind, wear loose clothing to eliminate the physical reminder, talk to people about topics other than fitness (even at the gym), smile more, eat healthy, cut out alcohol, and help others. Put good in the world: you'll feel better about yourself.

Muscle-Nation, we are not just about physical fitness. We are about feeling good and doing good. (Yes, just like Superman.)

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