Negative Body Image despite Being a “Fitness Model”

September 8, 2020 by VAHVA Fitness

How I have dealt with my body image and body confidence over the years. Tips and advice on how to view yourself and your body!

A short while ago I received a comment on one of my Instagram posts:

body image

First, it was just an observation of how my body and physique seems to change a lot from photo to photo and that the body of the person who commented also experiences the same drastic changes.

The question was whether I'm attached to the physical appearance of my body or do I focus more on how I feel and how efficiently my body is working as a whole.

I have touched on this subject in some of my earlier videos, especially videos where I sat down with Samuli and we were talking about focusing on the overall shape, health and performance of your body instead of externalities such as the number of weights, hard skills or having "super big muscles". 

Here's the talk with Samuli:

I wanted to talk more about this because it's very common to be attached to a certain look and obsess over the appearance.

It's especially true on these days when social media is big and filled with people showing off their bodies. This can create a distorted image in your head about what is achievable or even desirable.

I've also posted lots of pictures that show my physique in poses that aim to bring my best sides to the camera. It's quite normal if you're in the fitness industry. But these kinds of pics can send a wrong message.

You have probably seen influencers posting relaxed VS. flexed pictures as a way of demonstrating that not everything is as it seems on Instagram – and this is truly the case.

I had to address my body image issues over the years because I've been making videos to YouTube for 5 years now. In a video, you can't always control how you look and many times when I was watching myself in the video, I thought I didn't look as good as I imagined.

For example, I wasn't as big as I thought. I wanted my muscles to be more visible and I thought I looked too soft or just "weird". Yep.

Eero Westerberg in Finland 2016

In Finland 2016.

Despite this, I was able to realize that the help these videos offered to the viewer was a lot more important than my insecurities. So the videos went out. This was very good for me because it taught me to accept many different features and looks of my body. 

Now, we have almost 400 videos on our YouTube channel and people have been able to see my physique from all possible sides, sometimes relaxed, sometimes more flexed or pumped, sometimes more ripped, other times more fluffy and so on.

What I want you to realize is that the change in your appearance from day to day is normal and it's only going to be a big problem if you let it bother yourself.

You must also understand that in the pictures the lighting, pose, pump and angle create even more variance. How much you ate or drank the other day, how recovered you are, how you trained yesterday can all influence how your body looks in a matter of short period.

Becoming attached to the body image is going to be an even bigger problem if you let it dominate your training. You're sure to miss 100s of possibilities if you always think about growth and appearance when you train. You will keep training in ways that will very likely be bad for your body.

In my early training days, when I started to experience pain and adversities with my body I still kept going despite the warning signs. This was NOT good.

For a time I was attached to having bigger muscles, always lifting heavier and training skills but it soon became obvious that this would not let me progress much further. I couldn't stay on that road much longer without serious negative consequences.

Gradually I started to internalize the reality that looks and other externalities aren't the most important factor. After that it no longer felt like I had given up on anything. I had just stepped on the right path.

It's okay to value appearance or admire a well-constructed physique but you can't let it be the main guiding factor. You also can't force yourself to look any particular way. If you follow the looks you're simply starting from the wrong end.

What I believe in and have noticed in effect is that by training properly and focusing on the balanced development of your body, you will also reach the best outcome in terms of looks.

The big issue is that if you have a distorted image then you don't even know what you truly look like. Due to too much comparison, you don't just want to look better but you also want to look like someone else.

To clean your head, I recommend staring less to overblown social media physiques and have a period where you “forget” the looks completely for a month or two at least. During this time you may start seeing yourself a lot more clearly.

You may find out that your body looks better than you thought. You may also notice what was lacking from your body.

Paradoxically, people who mostly care about the looks often have many lacking body parts, weaknesses and imbalances. Their superficial image doesn't correspond to their actual functionalism.

In the end, seeing yourself in more realistic light and feeling your body more deeply is a must for sustainable long term development and reaching your potential.

Do the right things, do what is good and amazing results will appear. Appearance and abilities will be gone one day but I want to make sure I'm energetic and movable for as long as I can.

Stay strong!

Recommended reading/watching: How to Become Limitless and Unleash your Potential.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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