This is the only way I am able to begin to let go of certain expectations about how my body "should look". I am naturally competitive; so when working out transitioned into "training", pushing myself came easily. When I try something, I want to be perfect (an issue for another day) or at least the best I can be. Whether a Tough Mudder approaches (this weekend) or a difficult climbing route stands out, setting my focus on performance lets everything else fall into place more effortlessly.
I feel a stronger sense of self by saying I can keep such-and-such pace running for 7 miles as opposed to I stay slim by running; or I led a 5.12 last fall versus do this exercise to get a back like mine.
I give my body a purpose rather than torture it for not being what it isn't. I enjoy it more. It being climbing, running, my body, life...all of it. Opting for nourishing, whole foods to fuel me better becomes an organic choice, as opposed to suffering stringently through a "diet". My body naturally changes - improves to meet demands - and sometimes parts might resemble the initial image in my mind. Usually though, my idea of ideal evolves. Most days, I look into the mirror with a kinder gaze. Most days.
I still find myself thinking - and saying - things like I wish I had more muscle definition...or...if I had a really tight core...lower body fat %...I'd climb harder.
I still get caught in the body image web. It's a work in progress.
But it seems to be going in a positive direction.