5 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Struggle With How You Look

  • By Brian Keane

I got a question in my Instagram DM’s this morning from a girl who’s suffered from various eating disorders and her body image in general. Before I continue, I am not an expert in this area nor claim to have any special insight outside of what I’ve experienced personally or have witnessed in other people. However, I am very aware that your mess becomes your message and as I gave up filtering my thoughts, ideas and opinions a long time ago, this was top of mind today.

Regardless of whether you have suffered with an eating disorder- by the way, that term is very subjective depending on who you speak with; some people consider eating disorders as those that fit into the traditional bracket of ‘anorexia’, ‘bulimia’ or whatever medical diagnosis is given. Other considers anybody who counts their calorie and macros or weighs their food as having an eating disorder. Again, with the exception of the laws of physics, everything is an opinion or a perspective of this moment in time and is subjective to each person.

This post is coming outside of all that and will hopefully provide value to anybody that struggles or has ever struggled with the reflection they see in the mirror. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and thought ‘I look fat today’ or ‘I’m not big enough or lean enough’ or ‘I’m not stepping outside this house until I have make up on’– then I hope this post supports you.

You are not just the way you look

As somebody who makes a very good living through helping people transform the way that they look (and the way they feel about themselves as a bi product), I’m the first to say that the way that you look is not everything you are. Even though sometimes we can get so caught up in the bubble of not being lean enough, big enough or attractive enough- we miss the forest amongst the trees and only focus on the negative aspects of our appearance (or our ‘perceived’ negative aspects).

I’ve spoken regularly in the podcast about the evolutionary reasons for seeing negatives in our reality. In ancestral times, that ‘negative’ perspective manifested itself in you seeing rustling in the bushes if a predator was nearby or if their was a physical threat in your immediate surroundings. That kept you alive thousands of years ago but now, in a lot of cases, that negativity is expressed through the way that we see ourselves or the way that we look. I’m not going to get into that today; instead, I’m going to offer some practical questions to ask yourself as to why you may be feeling this way. As I said, your mess becomes your message and I’m not speaking as a clinical psychologist or behavioural science practitioner, I’m speaking as someone who lived it and came out stronger on the other side as a result.

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” – Carl Jung

This thought process is something that has supported me greatly over the past few years. I spoke on episode 73 of my podcast about my own issues with body dysmorphia when I was at my height of my bodybuilding career (I finished 8th at the Word Championships in Las Vegas to give some context) and one of the reasons that I have so much inner peace in terms of my physical image now is down to having to reach down to deal with some of my own demons and my own insecurities in order to be able to talk about it now. The reason I feel the need to discuss this topic is having figuratively grown to heaven i.e. the opinion of others costs me little or no thought now; however during that time in my life it occupied nearly every free waking moment.  Some of these questions helped me during that time so if it’s something you’re struggling with, I hope they support you as much as they helped me.

1) Do you need to audit your circle and who you hang around with? 

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” – Jim Rohn

If you listen to my podcast, you’ve heard this quote referenced over and over again as it applies to nearly every aspect of life. There have been countless studies to show that if you hanging around with five overweight people, the likelihood of you becoming overweight significantly increases. Conversely, if you hang around with five millionaires, you’re very likely to adopt some new ways of thinking which lead you to becoming the the sixth .

Our innate internal driver to mimic the group or the people in our immediate circle (its hard wired in your DNA!) shows up in so many ways. If you’re spending the majority of your time with people who value the way that they look above all else, its very likely that will become your primary focus too. Ask yourself if the people that you are spending a large portion of your time with are making you feel worse about the way that you look and how those relationships might be toxic to the way that you see yourself. If you spend most of your time with five people who are obsessed with they way they look, you’re very likely to become the sixth.

2) Is social media helping or hindering you? 

If you have ever experienced feeling good about yourself only to have it taken away from some external social media post or instagram photo purely because it reminded you of what you don’t have, then you need to ask what’s your reason for following that person.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt.

If you’re following some fitness guy or girl that consistently make you feel insecure about the way that you look and never provide you with any value, then you need to consider why you’re following them in the first place. By the way, I put myself into that bracket too- if my channels are consistently making you feel worse about yourself for whatever reason; assuming its not because what I’m saying is true and your reaction is a projection of anger aimed outwards towards me (or anybody else on social media for that matter), then please unfollow me too. I just ask that you hold everybody to that standard. If they’re not helping you become a better version of u, then follow more people who do.

3) Are you looking at it all the wrong way? 

As someone who came out stronger as a result of asking those difficult questions – why do I feel so insecure? Why am I always comparing myself to other people? Why cant I just be happy with what I have? I can honestly say that it does get better. If you see the version of who you want to be in your head, you can hold it in your hand. I spoke in the mind-set section of my book ‘The Fitness Mindset about how ‘thoughts become things’. I’ll go one step further here. Ask new questions to create new thoughts.

If you ask better questions, you produce better thoughts. Those new thoughts lead to new actions and the actions you take dictate the direction of your life. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If what you’ve been doing is working, keep doing it. If not, it might be time to change it.

4) Are you looking at failure as a negative thing? 

Every struggle, every failure, every set back is moving you one step closer to that end version of who you want to become.. BUT, you put need to make the decision to see it that way. The reason I love the Carl Jung quote is because if we didn’t have the concept of hell (struggle, failure and set backs), heaven (inner peace, security and confidence) wouldn’t even exist. Behind every fear is a person you want to be and when you lean into the discomfort of those personal and emotional demons, a stronger, tougher and better version of you is standing on the other side. Reframe the negativity as the price you pay for future inner peace and I promise that when you come through, not only will you feel better about your life, but you’ll be able to reach back and help others who are going through the same thing. Each one, teach one.

5) Who’s fault really is it? 

At the risk of isolating you right now, I’ll cut straight to the chase with this one. Its your fault! All of it,! But stay with me here. A funny thing happens when we take ownership of things or perceived things that are holding you back; when we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. When we own something, we have control of it and when we control, we can change it.

Towards the end of my book, I have the Mae West quote “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough”. This life right now, you have two choices –you can be a victim or victor – but u can’t be both. We find it so easy to accept the faults in our loved ones but so hard to accept our own. When you own how you’re feeling, you realize that there’s no magic pill, nothing you can buy that will fill that void and you own it as a part of you. Then and only then can you take control of it. After that, you can start putting the steps in place to change it.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with you for feeling the way that you do; those insecurities are a universal part of our make up as people – we all feel that way at times; but there is something wrong if you’re making the choice to let it define you. Understand it’s a part of you that’s not serving and surround yourself with the people, consume the information and practise the strategies that will help you come out stronger on the other side.

I’m speaking to myself here (I regularly make notes when I’m trying to deal with my own struggles) and sometimes your own inner voice can have outward projection that helps other people so here’s a little inside to my own inner dialogue when I was working through laying that foundation for my own inner peace. I’m aware that I probably sound psychotic but thankfully I feel secure enough to post it publicly in the hopes that by giving you a window into how I think when working through personal problems, it allows you to do the same.

Taken from the notes on my phone:

“FFS Brian, no more playing the victim (consciously or sub consciously), no more letting this emotion dictate how you feel in every waking moment. Make your actions map to the outcome you want. If you’re actions aren’t mapping to who u want to be, stop complaining that you don’t have the inner peace that you crave or desire. Stop blaming other people, stop blaming circumstances or situations – everything is how you choose to see it and nobody is going to make the situation better other than you. Own it, control it, change it. That weakness, that victim mentality dies here so stop blaming the f***ing world and own it. You need to be tougher. You need to be stronger. If you’re not happy with the way things are, then you need to change it! Make the choice as its yours to make. Own it, control it, change it”

I know that probably sounds a little extreme and there’s even some hesitancy in posting it (maybe I’m not as secure as I had myself believe) but as I mentioned early, I gave up filtering anything a long time ago so I’m keeping it in the hopes that it helps that one person that needs to hear it.

This post isn’t a one stop shop for dealing with body image, your appearance or the way that you look but I do hope some of the questions here work as a catalyst for helping your grow your tree to heaven and changing the way you may be looking at it.

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer

Feel free to  comment, share or hit me up on Instagram DM. I don’t write these kind of blogs for the majority of people (so apologies if its not applicable to you in any way) – I write it for that one message that I get in six months time from the single person who it resonated with and stops them doing something they regret. You know who you are <3




Brian Keane Fitness Podcast

Brian is a qualified personal trainer, sports nutritionist and strength and conditioning coach.

He is the best selling author of the book The Fitness Mindset and currently travels the world as a professional speaker. He also hosts the #1 podcast The Brian Keane Podcast.

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