Why is understanding the impact of health issues on self-image important?

Something is wrong with me!! Everyone around me is fit and healthy while I am in this unbearable pain, struggling to walk, to even get up from my bed every morning. I am the unfortunate one! So unhealthy, unfit, so very abnormal!! Why is life so unfair to me? Why is this pain paralyzing me and my lifestyle, one day at a time? These thoughts kept me awake every night while struggling with my back injury.

And I knew this couldn't go on. I looked at the mirror and asked myself a single question: what is the root of all these problems? To find a suitable answer, I started reading and found a few research articles that helped me. A line in a paper by Burns in 1982 struck chords - the beliefs and evaluations people hold about themselves determine who they are, what they can do, and what they can become (Burns, 1982). And the answer stared back at me: Self-Esteem.

Self-esteem is vital


Positive self-esteem is a major contributor to success, good mental health, and happiness. Studies over the years have shown that positive self-esteem is the most dominant and powerful predictor of happiness ( Furnham and Cheng, 2000). And not surprisingly, our physical fitness has a huge impact on our self-esteem. Similarly, our health issues can negatively jolt our self-esteem. This often leads to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders in the long term.

Our health issues often make a profound dark impact on our self-image. Quite often, it entirely changes how we look at ourselves. Soon, we start thinking that something is seriously wrong with me. Especially if we have any health issues, it seems like the whole world, apart from me, seems to be fit, happy, and healthy. If I have diabetes, the entire world, except me, seems to be enjoying sweets. Oh god, why am I the only one losing hair in my group? Why am I the only one short? Why couldn't you give me a few extra inches? Why am I the only one gaining weight? Why do I always look unattractive, no matter what I wear?

What we don't realize is that everyone in this world is dealing with something or another. We see our issues as the worst possible thing God gave us while seeing others as 'perfect.' Our friends, colleagues, and family seem to have a perfect life except for us. We are so focused on our problems that, if I am the one losing hair, I don't see the plight of someone having a short height or someone who is obese. We know the world as black and white. We are blinded by the notion that maybe we are 'abnormal' in this 'normal' world.

Well, the truth is everyone is going through something. Most of us are dealing with health issues. If you have a mortal human body, it is absolutely normal to have health issues. I am a fitness coach and look strikingly fit on the outside. But, here comes the confession! I, a trained fitness expert, also deal with multiple health issues. The only difference is that I have learned not to give too much importance to them. Instead, I spend my hours trying to focus on the things I can fix.

Destroy negative self-belief


For a very long time, I hated my body. I thought that 'I am insufficient, broken, terribly fragile. But my fitness journey over the years taught me the most important lesson: I am not defined by my health issues but by what I overcome. And the biggest thing that I overcame was destroying my negative self-belief.

And today, I am grateful for this body. I know I am absolutely normal, despite my health problems. I have understood that we give too much importance to our insecurities. These insecurities may be because of our past, background, health, look, or financial situation.

No, I am not a motivational speaker, but I am talking about this because I have gone through this depressing mindset. This has negatively affected my life and fitness journey for years. Trust me when I say we all have our issues; neither our bodies nor our lives are perfect. No one is perfect except maybe the people we see in movies. So, today as I am writing this blog, I will pass on a lesson I learned. Instead of believing something is wrong with you, and falling down that dark rabbit hole, start measuring your physical and mental health practically. See if you can do something to make it better. Fix your lifestyle, eat well, and exercise.

"Fix what you can fix and see its collective effect on the things you thought could not be fixed."

Strive for positive self-esteem

Let me tell you how destroying your negative self-belief can enhance your lifestyle, mental health, and outlook on life. When we have a negative self-image, it creates two major issues:

Image 1. We start adopting healthy habits in an attempt to overcome our shortcomings but often see it as a 'punishment.' For example, obese person feels that they have to exercise daily because they are obese. Similarly, a person with diabetes thinks they must eat healthy to keep diabetes in check. But, these healthy habits that should be a part of our lifestyle feel like a 'punishment' for people having health issues. If we start adopting a new healthy practice into our lifestyle with this negative mindset, every step in our fitness journey will feel like torture.

In reality, everyone should follow the same protocol of eating healthy and exercising regularly, whether a person with diabetes or a fit person. Exercising, eating healthy, and maintaining a good lifestyle are not prescribed for your health issues. It is the way of life. Learn to enjoy the process. We can't enjoy a process if we consider it an imposed 'punishment.'

Remember: "Exercise is not punishment for what is wrong with our body. It's the celebration of what our body can achieve."

2. When you constantly think that something is wrong with you, it keeps you from reaching your true potential. You live in constant fear, of failures, of what 'others might say, and mostly, of yourself. You limit yourself. Our bodies are adaptable, we have immense potential, and a few bad medical reports do not define what you can achieve. Did you ever think that if WE look at ourselves as 'abnormal,' how will the WORLD ever accept us as 'normal' individuals?

Imagine if Peter Dinklage thought of himself as 'abnormal'? I fell in love with him as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. What a decisive role he played!! The world wouldn't have seen his talent if he didn't believe in his abilities and only focused on his shortcomings.

What if Chadwick Boseman thought he was no good because of his condition? He was battling cancer while filming for Black Panther. We dread contemplating how powerful one's mind must be to accomplish something like this. He entertained us while going through pain, surgeries, and chemotherapies. He became immortal for the work he did. He didn't limit himself.

And if you are looking for an extreme example, google Nick Vujicic. Read about his life, and watch his videos on YouTube.

Do you think these guys were born with positive self-esteem or woke up one day and decided to feel good about themselves? They fought with their negative self-image and won.

What we can achieve is limitless despite our limitations. What you think about yourself matters the most. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get fit. But before all else, learn to accept and love yourself.

You are capable, talented, and have all the resources you need, and you are enough!!


1. Burns, R., 1982. Self Concept—Developing and Education. Holt, Rinehartand Winston: university of mechigan.

2. Furnham, A. and Cheng, H., 2000. Lay theories of happiness. Journal of happiness studies, 1(2), pp.227-246.

3. Mann, M.M., Hosman, C.M., Schaalma, H.P. and De Vries, N.K., 2004. Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health education research, 19(4), pp.357-372.


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