Let me tell you about this mirror. I almost threw it out a year ago because it was warped. I looked at myself in it and said, “Whoa…that reflection looks taller and leaner than my other reflections so that can’t be right.” And I also thought, “Probably not a good idea to look at it and think I’m something I’m not.”
Then I started thinking, “How do I know that this is the warped mirror? What if this mirror shows my true reflection and the others are the distorted ones?” Science aside, I realized that this was more about my perception. It didn’t really matter which mirror was “right” or “wrong,” it was more about how I perceived my reflection.
Now, this mirror is not a magical Snapchat filter that makes everything perfect. There are plenty of my own features I actually prefer in my other mirror. I think my legs look too lean and I’d much rather have them look massive. But yes, just like anyone, there are other things I do prefer, like looking taller or having a slimmer face.
I am not saying that we should use distortions, filters, Photoshop, etc to live in a sugar-coated, unrealistic world, but I decided to keep the mirror. It’s hanging in a rarely-used bedroom closet. It’s a reminder that my perception is what controls how I feel and view the world and myself. It’s also a reminder that there are plenty of other measurements I can use to track my health and progress. The mirror is a reminder that my behaviors and actions are what I can control, whether the reflection is ideal to me or not.
I don’t have to use my reflection to decide whether I’m “thin enough” to treat myself to a piece of cake or convince myself to go squat because my legs don’t look as full as I’d like. I can choose to do either of these things whenever I’d like, but it doesn’t have to be determined by how I look. Sure, I can use the mirror to assess my progress, but it’s not my only way of determining whether I’m improving.
A friend once brought up the idea that we all potentially see different colors, but have the same names for them because that’s all we’ve ever known and perceived. For example, my perception of the color brown may look like blue to someone else, but because we had both only known them as “brown” we’d never know we saw the colors differently. It took me a while to grasp what she was proposing. But, like you, I’ve never been able to see through someone else’s eyes so who’s to say that the same concept doesn’t apply to the distorted mirror?
Before we get too hard on ourselves, remember that no one sees us like we see ourselves, and perception plays a huge role. Spend time and energy focusing on your actions and choices that keep you happy, healthy, and progressing.
If you’re trying to lose weight, gain weight, or just improve your health, there are many ways to measure change other than the mirror and the scale. Here are just a few:
- Photographs can measure progress better than a mirror because we can remove some of the emotion and look at them as a single image.
- How are your clothes fitting? Are you having to wear a belt now? Are your shirts fitting differently? What about your rings, watch, or bracelets–is there a bit of extra room?
- If you’re exercising, use measurements such as strength increases with weights you’re using or rep increases with the same weight. If you’re doing routines that are for time (running a mile or a timed CrossFit WOD), pay attention to your improvement in these areas.
- Body fat measurements can be a useful tracker for measuring progress over time, especially if you’re incorporating strength-training in your exercise routine.
- Are you finding it easier to go to the gym? Are you not dreading it as a task to get to a goal, but actually enjoying it as a routine? That’s huge progress–you’re making a lifestyle change.
If you’re looking for guidance or a plan to jump-start your progress, I’d love to help. I offer 1:1 coaching sessions focused on changing routines and habits to lead to health improvement. No one’s life is the same and the way people reach their goals will not be the same either. Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or improve your health, we can work together to create a plan that works for you.