Self Perception

self_perceptionBy Michael Harland.

Soccer, baseball and basketball were my sports growing up. Soccer was my favorite and still is. I played year round. I loved the social interaction and running around with my friends. I learned a lot in those years about hard work, dedication, sportsmanship, camaraderie and much, much, more.

I moved when I was in middle school and never really made it back to recreational sports. I made the basketball team for my middle school, but broke my arm and had to quit. When I went to high school I made the varsity soccer team, didn’t like the coach and quit.

Through those years I rode my bike with my friends. I played pick up basketball sporadically, but never had a routine for exercise.

As far as strength training, I had no gym experience.  I knew of the exercises I’d seen people do. Just basic stuff like push ups, pull ups, etc… I had no muscle. In fact, I was quite the pudgy thing at one point!

After high school I was on the McDonalds diet and mixing in the weekend party of beers and Taco Bell. I couldn’t grasp nutrition. Actually, I didn’t care about my nutrition.  I liked my life and was happy with my lifestyle.


I think it was a picture. I had a big, baggy shirt on to try and hide myself, well, from myself. I looked in the mirror to confirm that this was really me. Sadly, it was.

I needed to change. It wasn’t health concerns that made me change. It was pure vanity. But, that’s ok.

It was a reason…

I was young…

I knew I didn’t want to look like I did. Now, every time I looked in the mirror I saw a 6,000 lb man that had let himself get so fat, so disgusting. I tormented myself daily. I stood in front of that mirror every day and talked myself into believing how horrible a person I had become.

The reality is that I was overweight. I wasn’t what my mind had convinced myself I was.

Unfortunately, the brain is a very powerful muscle. It definitely won the war.

After a while of self pity and talking about what I was going to do, I went for it. I walked into a gym. I asked a couple of questions, but didn’t want to talk to much.

I was embarrassed, scared, intimidated.

I took a 7 day free pass and figured I’d give it a shot. I convinced one of my friends to get one too.

So here it came. D-Day! I woke up. Put on some shorts and headed to the gym…  Alone (my friend never went).

What was I going to do?

I had no clue.

I did what most people do in that situation. I jumped on the treadmill and watched what everyone else was doing. After the treadmill I went, sat on a bench for a few minutes, moved a bar up and down a couple of times and pretended like I knew what I was doing.

Do you know what the big box gyms have a lot of? Mirrors. Big, long, tall mirrors.


Those help…

I was now even more ashamed of myself.

Luckily for me, I used it as motivation. I decided to stick with the gym and exercise and my lifestyle change.

Well, that change took me a long way. I am now a fitness professional and continue to live a healthy lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean that the mirror still isn’t my enemy. Even at my leanest I would stare in the mirror, pinch my fat and describe, piece by piece, all that was wrong with me.

Self perception can be such a torment to some of us. It can destroy us. People hurt themselves, kill themselves, all due to a poor, sometimes unwarranted, self perception.

This needs to stop.

You, we, I, her, him…

Every person is beautiful.

So next time you are in front of the mirror, remind yourself of that. Next time you see someone that needs some reassurance of how beautiful they really are, TELL THEM!

Spread love.

Create joy.

Share happiness.

You could save someones life by simply reminding them that they are beautiful, regardless of what a mirror, scale or measurement tells them.

Published on: Dec 11, 2013

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