Fitness Identity Sabotaging Success


We all have an image or an impression of ourselves in our mind. Call it self-esteem, self-awareness, or an internal identity, but we all have it.

We determine what kind of person we are – ex.” I am considerate”, “I am shy”, “I am a social butterfly”. We have assumptions about our appearance – ex. “I have big thighs”, “I have no rear end”, or “Everything I eat goes straight to my middle”. And we hold beliefs about how we behave – ex. “I would never do that”.

Yet, sometimes our mental identity can limit us.

I caught myself the other day replying to a friend in a way that revealed a lot about my identity. She commented that she sees me running in our neighborhood and said “you must be a runner.” I almost instinctively fired back with “well, I run, but I don’t consider myself a runner.”

Why not? Doesn’t the mere act of running make someone a runner? I my mind I thought a “runner” was someone who was long and lean (I was not born with a “runner’s body” at 5’ 3”) and liked to run 8, 12, maybe 20 miles at a time. If that is the standard, then I certainly am no runner.

But determining that I am not a runner does the same work to one’s psyche that a positive affirmation can do. When you tell yourself something enough, eventually you’ll believe it.

Telling myself that I’m not a runner limits me from considering more challenging races, pushing myself to run farther than I might have tried in the past, or even seeking out advice of run clubs and coaches…since a non-runner wouldn’t need that.

To be fair, I have seen ALL KINDS of body sizes and shapes run. Even challenging races such as marathons have participants who you wouldn’t think of a “runners” completing the race. In fact, marathon finishers will often tell you that a majority of the success is all mental.

We have to be careful about the fitness identities we hold so that they don’t limit. Mentally talking ourselves out of trying new exercise options, holding back on our efforts to do what we have always done will just make exercise boring, less rewarding and can often diminish our success.

My full fitness identity is that I’m a curious fitness advocate who loves to try, explore, and experience variety in activities. What identity are you holding that either hinders or helps you reach your fitness goals?

photo credit: HckySo via photopin cc

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  1. So true Brenda! What a great post. Our self identity really has an effect on the action we take. Thanks for posting.