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Body Checking

May 05, 20213 min read

Body Checking

Body checking is such an interesting thing for competitors

We know we must focus on what needs to improve for the stage, and this behavior is consistently reinforced

Body checking is not just looking in the mirror and evaluating your body, it’s also compulsive weighing and measuring of your body, and feeling and touching your body parts (like checking how a muscle or bone feels or how far you can wrap one body part around another)

While body checking can be seen as highly productive in the bodybuilding world, it’s likely due to the fact that bodybuilding is a sport where our physiques are being judged

This is comparable to criteria related to social physique anxiety whereby a person is worried about their body being judged by others

You may not be actively “worrying” about it in the same way, and rather pursuing your best physique which is awesome

I find it sometimes difficult as a helping professional when the lines can be blurred between productive behavior for the sport and unproductive behavior that is negative to long term mental health

Considering researchers have found, repeatedly, that body checking —whether positive or critical, has led to decreased body satisfaction

This means, even if you’re hyping yourself up, over time your body satisfaction could go down :(

So how do we work around this?

I like to apply the principles of operant conditioning

To avoid reinforcing or associating the scale, measurements, or shape with self-affect we need to separate them

This could look like celebrating your efforts, not the measurable result

Example: a person who checks the scale every day, looking for it to go down or stay the same, will only celebrate when that result happens and then they will use this method of weighing in as protection against their anxiety or fear of the weight increasing which could mean worse judgment or negative progress in their mind. Then weighing in becomes compulsive, happening multiple times a day, to control their behaviors

If we can remove the need for the scale to affirm or deny effort and instead focus on the effort itself, we may mitigate developing a detrimentally strong attachment to the scale

As a bodybuilder, it’s nearly impossible not to care about measurable data

But how you care and measure that data matters and can make the difference in your behaviors for improvement in every season over time

I encourage you to consider celebrating your amazing shoulder workout and effort before checking the mirror for validation of how hard you pushed

It’s “did I execute?” Rather than “do I look like I executed?”

When you ask if you look like you did, you could enter dangerous behavior territory like over manipulation of food or energy output

But when you focus on execution alone, you may find your self-affect increase and the reliance on an external display or measurement to decrease

I also believe trusting in the time and enjoying the process without rushing or trying to speed it up will help long term as you won’t have as much pressure to meet a standard or criteria on you because you’ll be detached from “exactly when”

Stay focused on your physique goals, judging criteria, and feedback, but protect yourself from hyper fixation on measurements, feels, or looks by celebrating your execution before the result

Want more insight into specific strategies I use with my clients and members for reducing body checking? Email me saying “body checking” and I’ll send you something you can try.

Celeste Rains-Turk

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Celeste Rains-Turk; Celestial_fit

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