These images are about 19 months a part, in exactly the same tank – just different colors. I may have temporarily misplaced the blue one.

The left was one of my first workouts as owner of Parkside CrossFit.

I felt so embarrassed to be a skinny gym owner, especially because I didn’t want to be.

I was fit, lean, had a six pack, and could run for days, but it wasn’t what I wanted. I felt stuck in my body and like there was nothing I could do. 

Over the last couple years I’ve really had to confront some unproductive subconscious beliefs about myself. 

So often we have self limiting behaviors and beliefs that they don’t recognize. We think the problem is on the outside, when really it’s inside. (Getting fitter friends can help!)

I hated “progress photos” because I would never allow myself to see progress.

Somewhere along the lines I convinced myself that I didn’t deserve progress – that if I let myself see progress it meant I was spoiled, complacent, and that I didn’t want “it” bad enough.

This would put me in a state of disdain for myself, my body, and would lead me to overtrain, and ultimately hold myself back. (I would be sore for WEEKS and wouldn’t sleep, when you should only ever be moderately sore, and sleeping is key!!)

I believe in myself now. I build myself up instead of constantly tearing myself down.

I gave myself permission to feel good about myself. So many of us grew up and NEVER got permission.

If you’re reading this and can relate – the only person you need permission from is YOU. Not your family, bosses, coworkers, friends, significant others – just yourself.

Of course – you actually have to do something. But when you do make a positive change in your life – no matter how small, give yourself credit.

We see this in the gym constantly, and not just with small improvements. Maybe I get it if you’re disappointed you worked out for 6 months as hard as you could and you lost 1lb.

We see people making SIGNIFICANT transformations – we’re talking losing 30lbs+, rehabbing significant injuries, improving 75lbs+ on their deadlift, bench press, or squat, and having inspiring before/after photos, AND STILL “not seeing improvement”.

That makes people miserable. I know from my personal experience, and from seeing the experience of others firsthand.

And you know what can really hold people back? Misery. Feeling bad for themselves, and not having hope.

LET YOURSELF HAVE WINS. Enjoy your progress. You’re not a bad person, selfish, or conceded for appreciating your own hard work. You lost the weight, you got stronger, you look better – no one did that for you. You had to earn it.

People need rewards for their work! They need hope that their goals can be accomplished. And guess what? Letting yourself have wins improves your progress. You get better faster. You work even harder.

It’s an incredible cycle – the kind of cycle you DON’T want to break.

Constantly destroying your own self esteem does the opposite, and is the cycle you NEED to break.

I see it all the time: People in VERY similar circumstances loses 10 pounds and get their first chin up. Person A says, “Yeah, but I need to lose at least 20 pounds. And the chin up was so ugly, I should be able to do at least 5 by now. PLUS, I can’t even see the progress in mirror.” Person B says, “That’s so awesome! I’m half way to 20 pounds, and I got a chin up already! I don’t quite see my weight loss in the mirror yet, but I know it’s there. I’ve been working so hard!”

Person A quit a few months later – much fitter than when they started, but feeling worse about themselves. Person B is still at it 2 years later, and in by far the best shape of their lives.

You might be surprised – or maybe you wouldn’t – of how many times I’ve heard a stories like this: “No matter what I did, I couldn’t lose enough weight in high school to make my mother happy”, “I couldn’t be good enough for my Dad to care about me playing sports growing up”, or, “No one compliments or praises in my family.”

STOP replaying THEIR narrative of you. It’s not about them. It’s your life! It’s your body, your progress, and YOUR self-esteem!

I can’t lie, for the first time ever it’s been fun putting photos like this together. For the first time, I don’t feel like a cocky jack-ass for liking what I see and appreciating myself. And you know what? I get to help other people in the process. It seems pretty damn win-win.

I’m much happier with myself physically, but it pales in comparison to how much happier I am with myself mentally.

I’m still working on my next “after” and probably will be for the rest of my life.

But that’s the nature of the game, and I love to play.

Break your negative cycle, and jump into a positive one. Give yourself permission to feel good about the work you do, and the progress you earn.

No one did it for you, and it must be earned, so enjoy it.

Happy Monday y’all!!

-Thanks for reading.


Learn More

To learn more about how we can help you on your fitness journey, click here to set up a Free Intro and follow Parkside CrossFit @parksidecrossfit and owners Connor Green @connorgreen24 and Pamela Matew @pambition.