Don’t Let The Mirror Steal Your Joy

Real talk tiiiiiiime.

Last week, I completed a fun workout outside. I think it was this one:

5 rounds
  • run the cul-de-sac (~200m)
  • 60 sec squat jump with knee up twist (15#)
  • 60 sec v-ups
  • 60 sec down dog spiderman pushups
  • 60 sec reverse lunge with kick (30#)
  • 30 sec side plank right
  • 30 sec side plank left

It involved running, so you know I felt extra accomplished when I finished. I was hot and tired, but I also felt energized and strong.


But then I looked in the mirror, and all of a sudden I didn’t feel as satisfied with my workout anymore. I honestly think I’d been watching too many Crossfit videos that weekend, so all I had been looking at were bodies like Stacie Tovar’s:



I’m obviously not as fit as a Crossfit Games athlete (or almost any Crossfitter, for that matter), but when I looked in the mirror, I subconsciously compared my body to fitter, leaner bodies.

And that stole my joy.


We’ve talked about the comparison trap 1000000 times on this blog, but it never seems to fade away (for me at least). Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe that I am in a healthier place than ever, mentally. But it’s still important to realize that aspiring for thinness OR fitness can be dangerous (← great article from Spoon University).


In other words, aspiring for another person’s body (seeing someone else’s body as #goals) is denying yourself the opportunity to realize the amazing things about your body and what you can do.


If I let myself define my workouts by how I look afterwards, I will end up miserable, and working out will become merely a means to an “end”— to have a certain physique (which is actually not an end because physical aesthetic alone is never fulfilling IMHO).

This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t set goals, but I think there’s a difference between setting goals to be like someone else and setting goals to be the best version of yourself at this stage in your life.

Even with that perspective though, how can you tell what “your best” is? Am I not doing “my best” right now just because I’m not pushing myself to lift the heaviest weights possible, to run more, or to eat less sugar? Maybe. But I’m going to say that I am doing my best, because I have other priorities ahead of fitness (that is, fitness that goes above and beyond basic fitness for health) towards which I devote my time and energy as well.


Since I’ve been working out when I feel like it and in a way that feels right for my body on each day, I’ve truly come to love working out. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I probably said that I loved working out, but I don’t think I truly did. I was still forcing myself to work out when I didn’t want to and to do workouts that were way too intense for what I needed that day.

photo 3

throwback to when I went to New York Sports Club in high school

This also doesn’t mean that you should never work out if just because you don’t feel like it. However, if there is one Pinterest quote I am willing to share over and over again, it’s this one:



So cheers to moving and grooving…

…whether that’s running or walking…push-ups on your knees or clapping push-ups…air squats or heavy squats.

…whether you have a cut six-pack or a “muffin top” with those spandex capris…a perky butt or a cellulite-dimpled butt…biceps or no biceps (I happen to have the latter on all three of these)…

Don’t let the mirror steal your joy. Let exercise itself be your jam, not just “the body” (whatever that is to you).

So tell me:

Have you ever let the mirror steal your joy after a workout?

Other thoughts! 


14 thoughts on “Don’t Let The Mirror Steal Your Joy

  1. This is one thing that has actually gotten a lot easier as I’ve gotten older. I can’t tell you how many times I let the mirror steal my joy when I was in college. Once I hit my later 20’s, I’ve learned to appreciate more about what my body can do and how I feel, rather than just how I look. But it’s never easy!

  2. I have had a great strength workout and felt good and then got home and looked in the mirror and felt weak and small. Or I try to open a jar and can’t get it and think “if I were stronger I could get this! Why am I so weak?” TBH I try not to do that and if I feel a bad thought coming, I don’t look in the mirror after a bad workout simply because it won’t be good for me.
    Great topic 🙂

  3. I’ve learned that comparing myself to only myself has made fitness so much more enjoyable for me. If I ever find myself looking at these models and wanting to look like them, I just tell myself that what I’m seeing isn’t real, and even if it’s real, it’s not everyday life. That has helped me accept myself more as a unique individual as well!

  4. I’m definitely guilty sometimes of letting the mirror steal my joy. After a really hard workout, sometimes I expect to see instant toneness (lol!) but just see a sweaty mess haha. I love your perspective, Alison!

  5. Wow- great post Alison! Really resonate with this. I have looked int he mirror after a workout and felt a bit dissatisfied. I have also struggled with comparing myself with others at the gym. But I realize that is so silly and I know that comparison does steal our joy. I try and focus on myself, doing what’s best for me, and reminding myself that now I workout in a way that is FUN where before, I didn’t do that!

  6. Love this! I have been following your blog for a while now and I can totally see that you love your workouts and they make me feel inspired at the gym. I totally understand, comparison is so hard to defeat and some weeks I’m feel so confident in my self and within an hour I feel horrible. I guess it is just accepting yourself in those moments and not letting the panic to be thinner or fitter drive you into unhealthy behaviours!

  7. Pingback: Coffee Talk #18

Your comments are groovy!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s