Saturday, 13 August 2016

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence”

Today I wanted to talk about confidence; body confidence more specifically. So I was searching through the internet looking for a good quote that would sum up my post and when I came across this one, it instantly struck me.
 
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence” Mark Twain.
 
Ignorance. Confidence. Two nouns that both have very different feelings associated with them. We generally view ignorance negatively; it’s often viewed as a poor trait in someone when they’re deemed to be ignorant. Confidence on the other hand is viewed positively by the majority; it’s good if someone has confidence in themselves right?
 
The last few weeks have actually made me challenge my own thoughts on these two words and whether they are actually negative and positive descriptors, respectively. I’ll talk a bit about ignorance later as, as I said at the start of this post I wanted to talk about confidence in the main.
 
What’s really struck me over the last few weeks is how little confidence people have in themselves; in their ability, in their body, in quite a lot of aspects of their lives. Being a part of the fitness world through my love of training, healthy living and bodybuilding maybe it’s more apparent to me but it’s also more apparent how confidence can be viewed quite negatively with people. Maybe that’s a response to their own insecurities  but we seem to live in a world now where people are very quick to critique others and put them down and they’re also very quick to judge when someone is confident in themselves; labelling them as cocky or arrogant.
 
And this makes me quite sad actually. Within my group of friends we only ever show love to each other. We complement each other all the time; whether that be on a piece of clothing, something they’ve done at work, something they’re doing in their lives or for my weight-lifting buddies, gains they’ve made in the gym. And maybe I live in a little bubble because of that but I very much like my bubble and I think back over recent years to how I’ve made changes within my life and one of those changes is just having a close circle of people I love and trust unconditionally and who are bright, happy, positive people who only pick me up and never put me down.
 
With some of my girls celebrating my birthday last week
 
 Now don’t get me wrong we all have our insecurities, like everyone out there. But overall we’re confident people. Immediately when I wrote that I felt like I had to write something straight away explaining why we’re confident and I think that sums up people’s approach to confidence these days. It’s so rare and easily misconstrued that people don’t like to admit they ARE confident.
 
Training and keeping fit gives me so much confidence. As do other parts of my life but my gym-life is the key to my confidence. I know this because last year when it took a back seat when I went travelling, so did my confidence. It can take knocks at times like when I did my competition in May it was hard to watch my body not look as lean as it did on show day and it took a little while for me to get my head around that. But I’ve got there and I’ve re-gained that confidence in my body. I love the high I get from smashing a good workout; I love feeling strong and fit, I love how my mind feels focused and stimulated when my body is active. I love looking in the mirror and being happy with what I see in the reflection; I love knowing my body is healthy because I keep it moving and plough it with good nutrients. And because of all those things I have a lot of confidence in myself; both in my body and with other aspects of life.
 
Another big workout this week
 
I’m at a point where I’m content with my body. There are things that aren’t perfect for sure but I’m okay with that. I’m okay with the fact I naturally carry more fat around my stomach so when I’m not prepping for comp my abs are the first thing to go. I also naturally put on fat easier than some other people do so I have to be careful with my diet and again that’s okay. I’m okay with the fact that I’ve been left with scarring from when I suffered from bad acne. I’m okay with the fact I haven’t been blessed with the biggest of boobs (which reduced even further when I started weight lifting – oh the joys!). I’m okay with all of those things because I know for each of those ‘flaws’ that I’ve listed I could write just as long a list of things I love about my body.
 
But we tend not to do that do we? We tend to focus on the things that aren’t so good rather than celebrating the things that are good. How often do you see a woman post on Facebook or Instagram saying how happy they are with a certain body part? Probably not very often. I follow a lot of fitness models/gurus on Instagram and if ever they do try celebrate their bodies they get slammed by people as being big-headed or people feel it’s their place to highlight that person’s flaws. And I think because of that people play down compliments so much in case it gets viewed as them being arrogant if they agree. For example, a few weeks ago someone said I had a great bum. Now naturally I’ve always had a pert bum (thanks Mum) but I also train my ass off (excuse the pun!) to keep it in shape. But what was my response? I awkwardly laughed and responded with ‘Ah I have good genes’. Because I wonder what reaction I would have got if I’d have turned around and said ‘Oh thanks I actually spend two training sessions a week working on my bum so yes I know the hard work is paying off’? They might have thought I was a bit full of myself if I had come out with that.
 
On the contrary one of my good male friends said to me last week ‘You’re looking good Bec, you seem to have lost a bit of weight again’ and because I had make a concerted effort that week previous to really clean up my diet I knew that I had and I was proud that I had. And without thinking I just responded with ‘Oh thanks yes I know I have’ – he laughed and jokingly said ‘oh so you know you’re looking good’. Now he didn’t mean anything by it but that’s the classic reaction people seem to get if they acknowledge their progress or improvements.
 
Source: NPA website. Photo: Fivos Averkiou
 
 I would love to see people being more confident in themselves; in all aspects of their lives and also then it might make them focus a little less on what others are doing. That’s one thing that I really don’t understand; when people spend all their time focusing on what others are saying or doing rather than focusing on their own lives. If you aren’t happy with something in your life; you’re the one that can change it. Slamming other people and just constantly watching what they’re doing is not going to change anything with your own life. People have commented before to me how in many ways I seem to have no idea what’s happening in the outside world. Even when it comes to my neighbours for example; I would generally have no idea what times people come and go, what cars they drive, whether they’re in at the same time as me etc. and my mum and dad have laughed at me for this over the years. Like I’m almost oblivious to things around me. Some may say that’s me being self-absorbed. I prefer to think of it as me focusing on my own life rather than the lives of those around me. Live and let live. And no surprise when I started doing that a few years ago I noticed a big difference in my life and the successes that came with it.
 
Which leads me nicely onto my next point about ignorance. As I said at the start of this post ‘ignorance’ is often viewed as a negative connotation. In recent weeks in particular I’ve realised that actually it can very be a positive trait. You have to learn in life when to be ignorant to certain people, situations or circumstances. Sometimes things happen that you just don’t have the time, effort or energy to get involved in the drama associated with those things and when that happens, absolutely, as the saying goes ‘ignorance is bliss’.
 
I’ve had a few occasions in the last month where people have tried to involve me in their drama or chaos. A long time ago I stopped getting involved in drama as to be quite honest I’ve got more important things in my life like building a career, having fun with my friends and training hard in my first off-season. What do they say? – ‘Ain’t nobody got no time for that’ haha and it’s true. So even sometimes when I’ve felt frustrated with things the last few weeks I’ve played the ignorance card. Sometimes you’ve just got to rise above it, focus on what you’re doing and don’t let others bring you down. And as hard as that can be sometimes, it’s often the best option. I once got told a few years ago that the view is always much greater when you take the higher ground and it really is.
 
Both of these things can very much play into our approach to health and fitness. We all need to find that little extra confidence in our bodies. No one has the perfect body but we’ve all got good features and especially if you’re doing what you can to keep your body fit and healthy then that is something to be proud of. Also plead ignorance to everything and everyone around you when necessary. You don’t have to be checking other people’s progress or be focused on what they’re doing. Focus on you, your goals, your body, your life and what you’re doing to make it better. And I can promise you when you start to practice these two behaviours more frequently you will see the positive changes in your life.