This might seem like an unlikely discussion coming from a bloke who has spent the best part of his (working) life owning and running gyms and helping people create their best body, but working along side thousands of people for a quarter of a century (good grief) has taught me many (many, many) lessons and reinforced many pre-existing beliefs. Lessons that some people desperately need to learn.

This message might also seem ironic coming from a bloke who was, for a while there, obsessed with building his own freaky body. I was young and dumb. Forgive me.

It's a good thing that we have the capacity to learn, adapt and change.

Some of what I've learned...

Myth: When I get in shape, everything will be okay, or at the very least, much better.
Truth: An amazing body doesn't equal an amazing life.
As a rule, what we look like has little or no correlation to happiness, fulfilment or the absence of problems. The media won't tell you that, but I will. Being in shape physically doesn't mean that you are emotionally or psychologically healthy. In fact, the majority of people who invest a disproportionate amount of time into their body and their appearance often have significant emotional and psychological issues (in my experience).

Myth: When I lose this weight, my self esteem will improve and I won't have the same confidence issues.
Truth: Not Necessarily. Some 'beautiful' people are the most insecure because their sense of self-worth and identity comes entirely from their looks... and we all know looks are temporary.

Myth: Losing weight will 'fix' my unhealthy relationship with my partner.
Truth: Nup. It may help a little, but your problems with your partner extend way beyond your butt, your gut and your bodyfat.

Myth: I will be satisfied when I reach (insert desired weight).
Reality: Ain't gonna happen. Often. Most people are forever moving the goal posts.
"Only ten more pounds... then I'll be happy."
"Okay... just five more."

Myth: Getting in shape is essentially a physical process.
Reality: Getting in shape (that is creating forever physical change) is more of an emotional and psychological journey than anything else. The physical change is a consequence of that journey. If we don't change emotionally and psychologically, we will never create lasting physical change. If the fitness industry understood this and operated from this paradigm, we would consistently see much better outcomes.

Myth: Body = Identity.
Reality: As I've shared before "my body is not who I am, it's just where I live." It's how I get around! I am an emotional, cerebral, spiritual and physical being.

Myth: My mindset and attitude will change when I lose the weight.
Reality: I will lose the weight when my mindset and attitude change.

Myth: Pretty = attractive.
Reality: Some people who may not fit the stereotypical 'pretty' mould (guys and girls) are incredibly attractive. And some of the 'prettiest' people are actually quite ugly. You know what I mean.

And so...
Working hard to be in good physical shape is a good thing; a healthy goal. But not when it's to the exclusion of developing 'all' of us. Not when it distracts us from who we really are, who we might become and what we might achieve beyond a six-pack and some perfect teeth. And not when it turns us into unbalanced, self-absorbed, insecure obsessives.

We are multi-dimensional, wonderful, amazing, complex creatures; not one-dimensional bodies. We are much more than a bunch of muscles, bones, fat, organs and facial features. Much more than an image. More than something to look at. If success, significance, influence or happiness was dependant on being physically attractive, I'd be one very unsuccessful, insignificant, miserable puppy!

Over the years I have watched many people turn a healthy endeavour (getting in shape) into an unhealthy, even destructive obsession and I have never met one single person who is obsessed with their appearance... and happy. Not one in all the thousands.

There's a lesson.

Author's Bio: 

Craig Harper (B.Ex.Sci.) is the #1 ranked Motivational Speaker (according to Google). He is a qualified exercise scientist, author, columnist, radio presenter, television host and owner of one of the largest personal training centres in the world.

Motivational Speaker & Exercise Scientist - Craig Harper