Everyone’s heard the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But it is really, really important, especially when it comes to health and fitness of our bodies, minds, and spirits, that we take this to heart. How someone looks does not tell you about their health. Let me explain.

We all likely know someone who is visibly happy all the time. They’re bubbly and smiley, happy-go-lucky – the life of the party! But, if you are close to this person, in reality, you know there is a lot of negativity going on beneath the surface.

If we only judge a book by its cover then we don’t dig deep, we don’t ask questions, and we don’t have any information other than what we can see. If we were only meant to use sight as a way to gather information as humans why were we given the ability to talk, to feel, to ask probing questions, to go with our gut reactions, or for our hearts to know that something might not be what it seems?

It’s time to be motivated by how you feel.

Instead, we do have the ability to dig deeper and see what’s really going on but when it comes to body image and how we value ourselves, we don’t always take that into consideration. We make snap judgements. I’m here to make something clear, as someone who has been in this industry for 15+ years working with clients every day, looking at things like body composition, activity levels, nutrition logs, the way people look on the outside is not usually what is actually going on. I’ve got the data to support it. I’ve seen a lot of people who have looked a little heavier but is still by all accounts far healthier from a data perspective than someone who perhaps weighs 120lbs soaking wet or is a lean 200lb man but is really struggling with mental health, sustainable health habits, and who’s body fat puts them at risk of having heart disease or diabetes because their muscle mass is too low, visceral fat too high.

If you are only motivated by how you look or if that is your measure of success, then you will likely make choices that aren’t necessarily good for the health of your body and that won’t be sustainable long-term.

A screaming example of this can be found in the habits and lifestyle of a bodybuilder. They look good right? They have muscle tone, flat stomachs, and although we may not find them attractive on stage, while they are leading up to their event, in the gym -they have an enviable figure. We look at people like bodybuilders, marathon runners, pro athletes as if they are the epitome of health because of their dedication to their training, and their figure when that is not always the case. They might be the epitome of strength or the epitome of performance but that doesn’t mean they are the epitome of health.

Putting Health First

When we are making decisions solely to go down a pant size we are still not putting health first. A common decision, in this case, is calorie counting. The problem here is that fewer calories can also mean fewer nutrients that we are only consuming because we want to feel a certain way. The goal really should be feeling healthy and working on the healthiest habits that are an expression of that feeling.

I can think back to a few clients I’ve had in the past with diagnosed eating disorders. One client of mine looked so put together on the outside and was someone who other women might look at and be envious of but behind the scenes, she was struggling with anorexia. At that point, the healthiest habit for her was just to eat anything. So we took baby steps. We weren’t going to get down on her because she ate a burger or pizza, it was about celebrating the healthy habit that she was eating something. And we could eventually change what she was eating into what is healthier and higher in nutrients

This is an extreme example but it is still very, very real. From a health and wellness perspective, it’s very important to be motivated by the habits we’re adopting. Just because someone goes to the gym five times a week, runs marathons, and eats kale for breakfast, lunch, and dinner … that does not a healthy person make.

There are also mental health choices, how we speak to treat ourselves that really contribute to the quality of wellness we owe ourselves. Quality over quantity is really where we’re moving as a society. Because of social media and the global accessibility of, well, everything, we find such diluted content so what we’re craving is quality. In fitness and health, it is no different in how we need to move forward as a culture- we need to be focused on the quality of our healthy habits not the number on the scale or the tag of your jeans.

I’ve known this for a very long time. My formal education is in psychology. I’ve always been very interested in the impact that our habits and daily routine have on our mental health. I have been just as passionate about the body and helping people move in a functional way to increase overall health and performance. Coming from this background and as someone who prides herself on being ambitious, competitive, and as someone who loves to push the body to the max has really forced me to settle on the fact that healthy habits are the key to health and wellness.

We all go through different phases in life and sometimes it is important to perform and our habits will be less healthy but we need to be focused on implementing those healthy habits as much as we can throughout those times and not be focused so much on the outcome or appearance. If we only focus on how we look and disregard how we feel then we will yoyo between being on and off track which is simply not sustainable.

Motivation Through The EPIC Life Formula

I created The EPIC Life Formula to help people track their habits and to implement habits that would help them sustain their health and wellness for the rest of their life in a way that can start small. But you can build up and get really into the different pillars and aspects of The EPIC Life Formula. You can take the pillar of nature and start with spending four hours in nature each week by walking to and from work as much as possible. As you continue to develop the habit you might one day find yourself really optimizing that time in nature where you’re seeking out a park or forest, taking off your shoes and socks and closing your eyes to really feel connected to the ground, take in the smell of the trees and flowers, and feel the breeze.

The formula is a way to focus on healthy habits over anything else because the truth is, if you only focus on the outcome, you’ll lose the journey. You won’t appreciate the hard work and you’ll just do whatever it takes to achieve your outcome without a plan to sustain it. Speaking from (a lot of) experience, this is what people struggle with the most.

We want to be motivated by something that makes us feel accomplished and healthy. We have these silly ideas of what it means to look good but we need to flip that script. The EPIC Life Formula is a great way to do that. It focuses on habits that help you win the day and the week. You’re actually implementing nourishing behaviours, nourishing foods and thoughts, and nourishing the self. This will make you feel so much better and- here’s the kicker- when you feel better and think better of yourself, you look better! It shouldn’t be one or the other, they go hand in hand. But being motivated by how you feel instead of how you look is the only way to get there.