So I came across this article over at Financial Samurai today titled "The Fittest People Have the Lowest Self-Esteem." I couldn't agree less with this article, and especially the comments people left. So, I'm here to clear up a misconception or two.
It would really help you understand this post if you skimmed that article.
If I had simply came across this and had never heard people respond in this manner about this subject, I might have just passed it over, but this viewpoint is slowly becoming a pet peeve of mine, as I hear it every so often from lots of people at work, as well as some friends too.
To be honest, this is EXACTLY what I myself used to think, especially about the guys checking themselves out in the mirror, until I started really, and I mean seriously, lifting weights myself.
I have to make a confession to make my point: I myself look in the mirror while at the gym a little more than I need to, but this behavior does not come from a sense of low self-esteem, or some need to keep reminding myself that I have at least a little muscle.
It's pride from a job well done.
It's the same exact thing as writing an awesome post and reading and re-reading it several times simply because you're quite proud of how it turned out. There's no need to keep reading it or looking it over, you already know it's more than good enough, and you certainly know what it says… after all, you're the one who wrote it.
Looking in the mirror like that is the quick little reward for pushing yourself and lifting more than you've ever lifted before. It's the quick little reward for thinking you've reached your limit, but instead of quitting, you throw on another 10 pounds, and extend your limits that much further.
That, and there's the practical reason for looking in the mirror: after a grueling workout, your muscles are so engorged with blood and there's such a massive "pump" occurring that you do literately look much bigger than when you walked into the gym, and that doesn't last long. There have been times when I've been working out, have pushed myself past my limits, and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and immediately responded with the thought, "holy crap! that's me???"
Another practical reason people who seem to be in tip-top shape keep at it, and harder than most anyone else, is because of the endorphins that are released from such an intense gym session. Endorphins are those feel-good chemicals that your brain releases, and I gotta say, it's pretty much addicting. The feeling of well-being and pleasant fatigue that washes over you for hours after a good workout at the gym makes every minute spent there worth it.
Just like any other kind of chemical however, your body, and psychology, adjusts to a certain amount after a while (just like that first cup of coffee doesn't do much to wake you up… it's really only after the 2nd or 3rd one). One must keep pushing themselves to experience that elated feeling of accomplishment and general contentment.
Lifting weights and pushing myself to, and beyond, my limits on a daily basis is one of the largest sense of accomplishments I've ever experienced in my life, hands-down.