Fitness: You Are Not At War With Yourself

Fitness: You Are Not At War With Yourself

The gym is not your battleground, your reflection is not your enemy. Stop being at war with yourself.

The fitness industry (like so many other “industries”) is outrageously unfair to women and it will only stop if we stop paying attention to their rules and regulations. If we stop heeding the advice of fitness magazines and TV shows, stop taking the opinions of a few ignorant men, and even some ignorant women and instead do what makes us happy, healthy and strong.

Let’s get started by celebrating ourselves, just as we are. Stop looking at your instagram on #motivationmonday and then frowning and grabbing your belly fat or throwing all of the food in your house away. Stop checking Facebook to see how Sally is doing with her diet because if she get’s thinner than you, you will just give up on everything. I see so many women, myself included, put themselves down on a regular basis. It is as if we can no longer accept compliments or god-forbid give ourself a little pat on the back for the damn good job we are doing.

Someone complimented my abs the other day and do you want to know what I said? I said: “Thanks but I got the stomach flu two weeks ago so I think that has something to do with it.” 

Are you kidding me? I couldn’t even take credit for all of the hard work I do (and believe me, I work hard for my abs) I made it seem like an accident, something temporary that I had nothing to do with. I am a personal trainer, I know better, but I still felt the need to say something, to make a joke of my hard earned success. It’s almost as if it’s socially unacceptable to accept a compliment flat out, and no one wants to be the pariah.

Take a minute right now and silently (or outloud!) give yourself some love, state something you are proud of, whether that is the number of push-ups you can do, or how sexy you look in your favorite pair of jeans. It’s okay to think about this one, and it’s also okay if your compliment doesn’t feel honest or genuine, because if you practice it enough, it will soon be not only a thought but a belief.

Love yourself, and embrace these moments of self-love and live in them for as long as you can. Hang-on to these feelings, wrap yourself in them, because before you know it, someone or something will tell you that you are not good enough, and it takes a lot of practice and a lot of love to know in your heart of hearts how horribly wrong they are. Keep up the compliments, keep loving yourself, it will make you shine.

Go get strong. Get healthy. You are allowed to feel beautiful, sexy, and tough. You are allowed to be powerful, graceful and quick. You do not have to choose one or the other. You do not have to sacrifice sex-appeal for strength, you do not have to be afraid of your own potential. Do not fear the squat-rack because “men don’t like bulky girls.” Who cares what men want, what do you want? 

Maybe you don’t love weight lifting, and maybe you are a dancer. Keep dancing. Dance your heart and breasts away, and never let anyone make you feel like less of a woman because of your smaller breast size or muscular legs. Afterall you can do things with your own body that take most people’s breath away, that send shivers down my spine, that literally leave me speechless.

Maybe you are a runner, a soccer player, a softball player, or swimmer. Whatever it is there is a stigma and you are living in a very wonderful place surrounded by only beautiful people if you don’t know of any; but I know many because I rode the bus with the boys baseball team in high school and I have a brother who has friends, and I watch TV, go to movies and I read fitness magazines, and I live in a world that demoralizes women and belittles everything they do on a daily basis. The world makes it hard for us to do what we love because they try hard to make us not love it.

Crossfit women are constantly told they are “too bulky” probably by men who can’t lift half the weight they can. Female swimmers are told that their shoulders are too broad, female rock climbers are told that their backs are too muscular the list goes on and on and on. But no one does this to men, no woman would look at a man who is excelling at something that is very hard to excel at and say…”his butt is too big” or “ew, look at his arms,” that is because we are not threatened by their accomplishments, we admire them. We are looking at what they are doing and how well they are doing it, not what they look like while doing it. But women do not have that luxury, we must be good at something (but not too good) and look graceful, elegant and poised while doing it. We must be strong but not look strong.

Although I have singled out men, women have followed their lead and  I hear too many females saying almost the exact same things about one another. Stop it. Just stop, because guess what, putting her down for her small breasts or large thighs does not enhance your breasts or slim your thighs. The more you are putting those around you down, the more desperate and insecure you look. Try to admire her, compliment her, embrace her. Do not be threatened by her. We need to support each other because if we don’t no one will. Celebrate each other, congratulate one another. Enjoy your moments of triumph and success and get comfortable with failure as there will be much of it if you have made worthy goals. Set your sights on the impossible, train hard and believe in yourself. Sweat, grunt, fall, fail, it will only make you stronger.

Step into your gym (whatever that may be) with confidence not cowardice. Put on your headphones, don’t look at the others around you, focus, smile, and enjoy this time with yourself.

The gym is your sanctuary, your reflection is a masterpiece, let your unrelenting determination be your guide. You are not at war with yourself.

Elizabeth Simonton is a longtime Malibu resident and certified personal trainer. To learn more, visit