The Fittest People May Have The Lowest Self-Esteem

I'm focused with physical fitness right now. As a father of two kids, I want to be fit enough to play with them and live long enough to see them become independent adults. Further, COVID-19 has shown to attack people not in ideal shape. However, I do wonder whether being obsessed about fitness is healthy. Could the fittest people actually have the lowest self-esteem?

Just yesterday I thought, “What's the point of being thin if I don't have four pack abs?” And then I started thinking what kind of person thinks about these types of questions?  Unless you are a swim model, it’s pretty unproductive and pointless if you ask me.

I've come to the conclusion that those with the highest self-esteem may be some of the least fit and most indebted people on Earth. These folks essentially doing give a damn about what anybody else thinks! 

Meanwhile, the fittest people who are constantly thinking about their looks, and who are always at the gym exercising and pumping iron may have the lowest self-esteem. They are constantly checking themselves in the mirror to admire their physiques, even though they already know they look fine.

Kind of ironic right? But of course, we all know that being fit and looking good tends to boost self-confidence as well. It's just fun to look at the other side of the story.

Be Who You Want To Be – A Discussion On The Fittest People

Everything is pretty logical long term. Nobody gains weight and keeps the weight on forever unless they want to. The pleasure of eating really tasty food and not having to work out outweighs any annoyance that gaining weight produces. 

If you were truly bothered by your weight gain, you'd logically start eating less. You'd also think about the starvation of others and start working out.

When you have high self-esteem, you don't give a damn what other people think about you.  You live your life with pride and purpose and don't care if you're tipping the scales because you're comfortable with who you are. 

The same thing with getting in debt too. You don't listen to pundits and people who like to shame folks into spending responsibility. You utilize debt with freedom, enjoying a great life you cannot technically afford because you don't care.

Look at multi-millionaire Dr. Phil. He's overweight, yet he wrote a bestselling weight loss book! That takes great self-esteem and great courage to be able to produce a book teaching others how to lose weight if you yourself are out of shape.  

He doesn't care and makes millions because of it. Look at Oprah. She's not in great shape, but she is a billionaire because she has great confidence in her message.  She helps others and makes people happy.

Perhaps Fit People May Be Mentally Struggling

If you go to the gym, you'll see some enormously buff guys and extremely toned women working their tails off. They are already at their peak level of fitness. Running another 1 mile isn't going to get them anywhere! 

You will notice the guy checking out his abs and biceps in the mirror. Sneaking a peak at himself. The woman will check out her butt, in her $100 Lululemon outfit and admire herself.  She'll prance around the gym, making sure other guys notice her.

Some of the fittest people are weak and insecure! You can see it everywhere. The vertically challenged guy gets huge. The insecure woman eats so little so she can get into a size zero and feel better about herself. 

I've got some insecurities because I've had thoughts about my fitness and weight since I was 8 years old.

I remember sucking in my gut when I was 9 during swim class because I didn't want the girl I liked to think I was fat!  9 years old! Jee whiz. What's up with the fittest people nowadays posting so many selfies online?

It's so much better to be rich and not famous.

Out Of Shape People May Be Mentally Strongest

The next time you see a really out of shape person who is snowed under a mountain of debt, congratulate them for their courage! Sit down with them and try and figure out how they developed such great self-esteem. This way we can help the fittest people get healthier too!

Chances are, they will simply tell you that they've stopped caring about what other people think.  Our own confidence is one of our greatest tools for achieving success.  Make sure you have some, and don't ever let it go!

In conclusion, I don't believe the fittest people have the lowest self-esteem. On the contrary, when you're fit, you feel great and self-esteem grows. Just be careful about obsessing too much over the way you look. Because at the end of the day, it's who you are on the inside that counts the most.

Related post: The Unhealthy Desire For Prestige Is Ruining Your Life

The Fittest People Take Care Of Their Wealth

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98 thoughts on “The Fittest People May Have The Lowest Self-Esteem”

  1. I had to check my eyes twice to confirm it was indeed a Financial Samurai article.

    Strange undertone of heavy biases indeed. I think people always respect and take you seriously if you look and feel like you take good care of yourself. Period.

    I’ve been on both sides. Being a father of two young kids, I didn’t have time to take care of myself. I grew pretty overweight and enjoyed binging and drinking regularly. I didn’t think much about my body image at all. However my self esteem was pretty meh.

    Now that my kids grew up a little bit and getting a routine figured out, and after having gone through some deep introspection and reprioritization, I spent my last year being extremely active (snowboarding, endurance road biking, HIIT, surfing, paddle boarding, scuba etc… yay COVID lockdown). I love this stuff and I ended up being active 5-6 days a week. What I didn’t realize is the sweet benefit of losing the beer belly and getting ripped with 6 pack abs. I’ll be honest here I didn’t start off with getting ripped as the “end goal”. But who in their right mind would pass on being ripped? Also won’t you be motivated to “look good”?? I personally used to feel at times (not always) sort of invisible when I walk around. Like no one cared – I mean nothing wrong with that. Everybody is minding their business and all. But now I feel more “noticed” and that’s kinda fun. I’ve had other friends confirm this in their own journeys as well. I started feeling a buzz by the attention I get every time I’m at the beach or when people start being slightly nicer to me, smile at me, sometime overtly complement me. I love being appreciated. Gives me a sweet high. But it’s temporary and still doesn’t compare to the high from a good bike ride or catching a barrel surf. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    If anything my self esteem has sky rocketed at the age of 37 like never before.

    1. Hi Raj,

      I wrote this post a long time ago when I was annoyed about my weight gain. I tried to look at the flip side of the equation.

      If we are happy with how we look, should we really spend a lot of time working out when we have children to play with and friends to hang out with? I have so little time nowadays with two little ones and my writing schedule.

      But I think it’s fun to combine exercise with family members. Good stuff getting fit again!

      How did you stumble upon this post?


  2. Great article! Lots of very biased and narrow minded coments – proving your point. As an avid gym hitter for more than 10 years i can confirm everything you said here. Extreme pursuit for body aesthetics is just side effect of materialistic society that pushes its own false beauty and body ideal. So lots of people start to threat theirs bodies as an product, from my perspective it usually goes with plastic surgery, branded outfit and sport cars all there to compensate some serious insecurities, or as my friend likes to say you start to conusme on yourself. This specially intresting phenomenon in Balkans, which is statistically very poor area, so i dont want to generalize. Riped boody with only pourpose to be riped is wasted body. Our muscles are here for reason, use them for it, same like your brain.

  3. This is one of the most delusional articles I’ve ever read lmao. It is a known scientific and psychological fact that physically fittest people have generally higher self-esteem (especially pro athletes), and lower rates of anxiety, depression and suicide than people who are obese, anorexic or generally out of shape:

    Seriously, your entire article comes across as you trying to cope with being unfit or ugly, and projecting your own self-hate on others who are more in shape and attractive. People who honestly don’t care about their appearance and status also don’t care about themselves in general, which is the basis of low self-esteem. Why would anyone who has a high opinion about themselves let themselves be ugly, out of shape, poor, unloved, etc? It makes no sense.

    Self-esteem isn’t about whether or not you care about what others think (which is actually irrelevant to self-esteem), and it’s not about contentment either (which is often coming from defeatism) it about how you feel about yourself in general. Its not okay to be obese or anorexic, its not okay to ugly, its not okay to be poor, and its not okay to be a loser. There’s no “courage” in any if that. No one with high self-esteem would accept or be content with any low quality of themselves

    1. “It is a known scientific and psychological fact that physically fittest people have generally higher self-esteem (especially pro athletes), and lower rates of anxiety, depression and suicide than people who are obese, anorexic or generally out of shape”

      Source? That is a very huge claim.

  4. The ONLY thing you can tell about a person by looking at them, is your OWN biases for people who looks like them.

  5. Josh Walters

    Actually its not that those out of shape people stop caring about what others think, they stopped caring about themselves which is 100 times worse than a fit person.

  6. I usually like financial samurai articles, but this one ticks me off. The undertone of this article is one that ridicules those who are fit. You have people who are fit and then you have those that are fit and vain. However, everyone checks themselves out every now and then. In any case, becoming fit is not easy nor simple. It is meticulous, time consuming, depleting, and hard. If becoming fit wasn’t difficult, then everyone would be fit and the USA would not a 50% obesity issue.

  7. ahahah this article is so funny and honestly the writer sounds pretty darn insecure and jealous.
    I’ve met all kinds of insecure people and they were in all shapes and sizes. Fat…fit…average. This article is ridiculous.

  8. Nonsense. Being obsessed with fitness is a sign of insecurity, that I agree with. However, taking care of ones body is the greatest investment an individual can make. When you are fitter, healthier, and stronger, you tend to be more productive than those who are not. You have the mental alertness and focus on a younger person even as you grow older while your peer become burdened by their cumbersome over-weight bodies.
    People also respect you more. You embody strength with your presence and they come to you for leadership and advice. The biggest lion in the pack is ” always” the leader of the pack. Same applies for all animals, humans included.
    Not all gym, fit people are narcissistic and obsessed with their appearances. I rarely check my abs in public, never brag, or offer advice to random people unless requested. I just want to be fit and stronger, especially as I get older and my body deteriorates.

  9. No one here has a right to speculate how anyone feels inside , but everyone can input how they feel about themselves and the kind of shape their in and let the facts speak for themselves :)
    I personally can say I’ve always been consumed with my looks and a lot of people would be happy to look like me and have a body like me (so my husband says:/ ) I can’t really see it though. I am happy with myself but I’m not perfect . Sometimes I have bad days and I’m not happy with myself . When I try to be perfect like some of these fitness models , I’m miserable . The more I try , the more I care the less happy I am with myself . I think the more I try to look good the less happy I am inside. I would like to accept myself for being perfectly imperfect , that is happiness to me and not care what others think . I work on it every day . I have to cause I’m getting older and beauty fades ! You gotta love yourself for more than your appearance and you got to be able to offer more to the world than just your looks

  10. Actually, accepting and loving yourself as you are is one of the hardest things to do.

    Now it all makes sense. Now I understand why there is so much vilification of people who are skinny, thin and fat. They need to bring them down in order to feel better with themselves.

    I suppose this also applies to the obsession with the alpa male rhetoric. I guess those men feel they are not masculine enough so they have to call other men beta and other insults in an attempt to emasculate them so that thry can rise above them.

    And I could go further and also speculate that the trmeendous homophbia I observe in bodybuilding mey also be a sing of sexual insecurity hence the need to appear aggressively heterosexual.

    Interesting but at the same time it kind of makes me very disappointed in bodybuilding and the fitness world in general that tyey haven’t condemned these undesirable practices.

    1. Your post is nonsense.

      This is one of the most delusional articles I’ve ever read lmao. It is a known scientific and psychological fact that physically fittest people have generally higher self-esteem (especially pro athletes), and lower rates of anxiety, depression and suicide than people who are obese, anorexic or generally out of shape:

      And its also a fact that people who are more masculine tend to have higher self-esteem on average (because confidence and self-esteem come from androgens).

      Seriously, your post comes across as you trying to cope with being unfit or ugly, and projecting your own self-hate on others who are more in shape and attractive. People who honestly don’t care about their appearance and status also don’t care about themselves in general, which is the basis of low self-esteem. Why would anyone who has a high opinion about themselves let themselves be ugly, out of shape, poor, unloved, etc? It makes no sense.

      Self-esteem isn’t about whether or not you care about what others think (which is actually irrelevant to self-esteem), and it’s not about contentment either (which is often coming from defeatism) it about how you feel about yourself in general. Its not okay to be obese or anorexic, its not okay to ugly, its not okay to be poor, and its not okay to be a loser (that’s why people with those traits get vilified). No one with high self-esteem would accept or be content with any low quality of themselves, only those with no self-respect would.

  11. fit for myself

    Having been around gyms for 32 yrs I can say that bodybuilding does attract some very troubled insecure people. However not everyone that has a great healthy body fits into that mold. Many of us have found that working out is a great way to deal with the stresses and storms of life.
    You make the assumption that everyone is in the gym trying to impress you. Fact is a lot of us could give a rats ass about the people looking at us . we are too busy training and getting high on natures natural painkiller ( endorphins).

    People with low self esteem do not care about their health. They load their bodies full of junk food that destroys their health. You only get one body and you need to take care of it. I know this was an older post but man what a warped view of life the author has.

  12. I’m not entirely convinced that being fitter leads to low self-esteem and insecurity or how this relates to finance but it is still very interesting to explore.

    “If you go to the gym, you’ll see some enormously buff guys and extremely toned women working their tails off. They are already at their peak level of fitness. Running another 1 mile isn’t going to get them anywhere.”

    Appearing fit does not equal actual fitness or health. My partner who is a physician sees this every day from thin, sedentary patients with metabolic syndrome (i.e. type II diabetes, heart disease) because they refuse to exercise regularly. The non-medical term would probably be “skinny fat.”

    Many of the fittest gym goers are simply training for their sport. For those of us who are professional/competitive athletes, the six pack abs and toned body you describe are often side effects rather than the end goal. The implication above is that appearing physically fit means that the person has already maximized their potential. On the contrary, fitness is a long-term skill that needs to be consistently improved upon and maintained (just like financial discipline). For instance, a recreational athlete might not care about finishing a run 5 secs faster than the last but to a runner or rower that is the difference between first and last place.

    “Meanwhile, those who constantly think about their looks, and who are always at the gym exercising and pumping iron have the lowest self-esteem. They are constantly checking themselves in the mirror to admire their physiques, even though they already know they look fine.”

    Vanity isn’t necessarily specific to gym goers. Everyone has mirrors in their house, right? Who doesn’t love seeing how great they look in a nice outfit in the privacy of their bedrooms? Is admiring the changes in your own fit body during a workout really all that different? As an aside, the primary reason mirrors exist in the gym is for people to check their form and avoid injury.

    Perhaps it’s the folks that take shortcuts to fitness like weight loss drugs, body enhancement implants that are more likely to struggle with body image issues. I wouldn’t know, but assuming “fit people are weak” might not be the right type of encouragement for them.

  13. I think you are right. The strongest people are those who can accept tjhemselves for who they are. It is good to do some exercise for health reasons, but people such as fitness models and bodybuilders are never satisfy with their looks, they are always striving for more muscle and more definition, they are constantly running away from the fear of being either thin or overweight.

    It is that fear that drives them to the obsession with muscualrity.

    They tend to vilify thin and overweight people. You can clearly see this when watching those Youtube videos of guys showing their transformation from skinny to muscular; skinny is horrible and bad, and muscular is good and glorious.

    They send a wrong message in so many ways with their obsession with muscularity.

    1. This is complete nonsense.

      Self-Acceptance is NOT self-esteem. And no, its a scientific fact that fitness models, pro athletes and bodybuilders have highet self-esteem (and lower rates of suicide and depression) than people who are overweight or super skinny. And what actually drives these people in being fit and muscular (besides genetics) is their naturally higher testosterone levels, so they tend to naturally more physically active and extroverted people seeking to stimulate themselves productively.

      People who dont care about their appearance tend to not care about themselves. No one with high self-esteem would accept any low quality about themselves. They would either seek to improve or focus on what strengths they have to compensate.

      People who are ugly or in bad shape know subconsciously that its not okay to be what they are, that’s why they get vilified because there’s no benefit in being what they are.

      1. You are literally commenting on everyone’s post, which naturally contrasts yours. What is nonsense is your aggressive and angry tone about the topic, which pinpoints your insecurities about beauty ideals. It also show you cannot intelligently agree to disagree with other people’s views.
        If you are trying to convince people that you are happy with yourself, then you have failed miserably here, in the least. The people you presume are ugly, lazy, etc. are a mirror of what you feel about yourself…deep, deep down inside of your subconscious mind.

      2. Self acceptance means you love yourself as you are regardless of what others think of you that’s true love and self esteem gym people train for others people’s validation but you cover it up with I’m working my butt off in the gym trying to get fit..

    2. Exactly and this is the truth the gym rats, crossfit people won’t admit then they try and belittle you if you don’t show up to the gym I joined cross fit for 2 days I got sore as hell never went back and got shunned for it.. I’ll never do that again..

  14. Interesting article. Read about self-respect. It is far more different and better than self-esteem.

  15. I am 43. After a recent split with my partner of 13 years i am now subjected to living cheaply so i can pay my ex partner enough money to look after our 3 yr old daughter. I have been a drummer for 20 years which in itself kept me in good shape but I have abused my body of much alcohol and junk food and look unwell in body and mind. Now I am on the internet looking at various health fitness sites in order to find how to ‘lose weight’, gain my ‘abs’, etc etc etc. This i feel has led me to believe i am insecure in myself, thinking if i look better i will regain my self confidence, health and well being. And now I’m asking myself… will attempting to be a gym rat fulfil these things? Its a tough call. Wont do me any harm, but theres more to life picking up something heavy… and putting it back down again.

  16. Oh, sorry by the way. I thought it was a woman who wrote this. Apparently it is a male. This does not change anything I said though.

  17. This is such a horribly written article. You have a really ignorant point of view and you should not generalize. Negativity resonates and so when we hear of insecure skinny woman who starve themselves we pay all of our attention to it, but do we ever pay any attention to the people who chose a healthy lifestyle after getting a heart attack or those who just have a genuine passion for being healthy. My friends and I are all fit. We do not hang out with each other because of our level fitness, but we enjoy hanging out with each other because we all share the same genuine love for exercise and health. Like I said, negativity resonates and so when you are at the gym you pay attention to the douchebags flexing in front of the mirror or the beautiful woman wearing no clothing (who you possibly envy deep down inside) rather than on your own exercise or the motivated people who wear loose clothing or those who just do not care about what everyone else is doing. I am very offended by your article, but it is fine because I am sure the one with the least self esteem is you.

    1. I’ve found that the more offended people are by this article, the lower the self-esteem they have. Learn to shrug things off and look at both sides of the coin. It’s helpful in the long run.

  18. Everyone cares about others to some extent. Its what makes us human beings. If you don’t focus on what you want and actually dive into it full force you will lower your self esteem. Because you are nothing. Oprah and Dr Phil love money. Its not a bad thing. Its not that theydont care about what people think. Its quite the opposite. She gives the audience things for free to give herself good public relations and write off some taxes. Killing two birds with one stone? Sounds like a great strategy. Do what you believe is best for you regardless of other peoples opinions.

  19. This is pretty stupid, honestly.

    I don’t think the author has any idea what he’s talking about. People lift for a lot of reasons. Some want to be healthy, some want to be physically capable in a time of need, some want to look good, some want to feel good, some want to be strong, and I just want to be better at sports. You can’t blame some people for checking themselves out because it’s a remarkable thing to watch your body grow and realize that you control your body, not the other way around.

    It’s usually the act of an insecure person to judge a group he doesn’t understand.

    1. For other people I doubt it’s for yourself yoi do 80% of what you do to attract others validation and 20% drives the 80%

  20. You have a skewed and bias view of what fitness is. If you wish to be ignorant about health and fitness and the reasons people choose to peruse it that is your problem, just don’t make stupid and illogical conclusions while trying to sway the opinions of others.

    A fit man is happier than he would be if he wasn’t fit, I will leave it at that.

  21. I currently live in Wisconsin and I am always amazed at the amount of very overweight people that I see at the gym. I would never have that level of confidence to walk into a gym so overweight.

    I do have a theory about people “check out” themselves in the mirror. I lift at the gym. I am usually the only woman surrounded by a sea of men. When you have breaks in between your sets…you have to look at something, thus you focus on yourself…you don’t want it to look like you are checking out everyone else. Also, sometimes you are staring at yourself to ensure your form is correct.

  22. I’m not sure if overweight people have high self esteem or if they’re just lazy and undisciplined. It’s easier to embrace defeat than it is to embark on change that requires grit, sacrifice and hard work. I feel like I look pretty damn good. But like most areas of my life, I want to do better. However, it is important to define what’s enough. Once you achieve a level of “enough” it’s permissible to switch to maintenance mode. Until then, you work your butt off.

  23. just a reader

    Is this post supposed to be scarcatic? If not, this post makes no sense to me (please don’t yell at me). Elite athletes are fit, so they have low self-esteem?

    If you are just argued gym rats work out just to look good… you *might* have an argued point. but other then that I don’t really see any correlation/causation with level of fitness and level of self-esteem.

    1. Sunil from The Extra Money Blog

      lol i think Sam posted this to start world war three, or cyber war one. i am in disbelief after reading it

  24. Dr. Phil wrote a weigh loss book? Wow I didn’t know that. I bet he could write a book on growing hair and it’d make some money too.

    You make a good point that I never thought about. I think the people with the lowest self esteem are the extreme bodybuilders. The ones with the unnatural 3% body fat who eat crazy things and ingest a ton of pills to get their bodies looking like that. Looking like that is not normal at all. I hate to say it but the women who are ripped like that are not attractive at all. Plus then they add all the fake tanner. Yuck.

    I would say a person losing weight would gain self-estem as they continually lose weight. However it has to be to a healthy weight. Going overboard gets into that low self-esteem area you talk about.

  25. Jessica Bosari

    This is so very un-zen of you. The best I can agree with is Chris Parsons comment about extremes. Extreme fitness and extreme obesity are often signs of insecurity. But instead of judging, how about some empathy? Insecure people need help, not judgement. Also, extremely fit people in the Olympics don’t exactly strike me as insecure, just as there are extremely obese people who have no control over the problem for whatever health reason.

        1. The Happy Buddha is there to show that as the symbol of the happiest person who ever existed, he is out of shape and doesn’t care. I think you’ve really missed the point of this article completely… perhaps I need to change my writing style.

          How are you showing empathy, as you write in your comment?

  26. I live in Los Angeles where everyone is obsessed with what they look like, I confirm that this is 100% CORRECT!!

  27. I am having a hard time determining the level of deliberate sarcasm, or the level of brutal generalization. Taking the article seriously, then everyone watching to his or her health is a victim of his or her insecurity?

    Looking at people’s motivation as to WHY they go to the gym, then there might be a difference to make. Personally, I practice Japanese sword fighting, both to stay healthy and to learn more about the Samurai culture. I also hit the gym, because I feel that a regular physical exercise giving me additional energy, and it’s a good way of balancing out all the time I spend sitting in the office.

    And let’s be honest, after having hit the gym for a few months in addition to martial arts, I don’t only feel fitter, but I see my body change, I got slimmer, my muscles started to build. And I have to admit, that sometimes it is damn tempting to look in the mirror and see that.

    Fine, perhaps some people hit the gym up to the extreme because they have a low self-esteem. Some don’t. Others however develop a low self-esteem when they realize that they are clearly overweight.


    1. The post was a question to understand my own vanity of who thinks about “what’s the point of being thin if I don’t have 4 pack abs?”.

      My title is my thesis, and as you can see from various comments, the thesis has merit. Nothing will always be one way or another.

      1. Sorry I missed the ‘thesis’ part in the article.

        Still, the topic is excellent, and pretty exemplary for the society we live in. I love reading the different view on this topic.


  28. Darwin's Money

    I don’t think there’s a huge “causal” relationship here. I mean, people get into good shape, get into bad shape, then get back into shape again (like me); does this mean my self-esteem has varied between different stages of my life? I don’t think so, I just kinda let myself go a bit when I was working a ton, busy with work/mba/kids all hitting at the same time and now my job has more reasonable hours and my kids are a bit older so I can hit the gym and jog a few days a week.

    I think overweight people probably have LOWER self-esteem, not higher. It’s not a voluntary “hey, I want to be fat” mentality, it’s an attitude of helplessness and defeat when you say, “I just give up. I’m always going to look like this”. If that’s high self-esteem, then, I’d hate to see low self-esteem.

    Agree w anorexia statement from commentors; it’s a disease, not relevant to self-esteem per se. Just like drug addiction, depression and other maladies, it’s tough to draw analogies to other topics, especially if you haven’t been through it yourself or lived in the same house with someone who has. People “think” they know what it’s like to live in that world, but they don’t.

  29. Travis, I’m glad you no longer feel “worthless” and are doing things to make yourself feel better.

    What I’m saying is that everything is logical. You wouldn’t allow yourself to gain so much weight and get into so much debt if you didn’t believe the pleasures of eating and spending more than you had outweighed any anguish it caused.

    Now that it is, you are course correcting.

    However, let us know how you feel if you ever get into that super fit mode.


  30. It seems you wrote this from the point of view that the only point of being fit is to impress others. If that were correct, your article would make sense.

    You’re missing out on a whole slew of people who are fit for other reasons:
    – So they don’t have a heart attack and die at 40
    – So they don’t get diabetes
    – So they can perform well in sports
    – So they feel comfortable
    – So they are able to execute their work or regular tasks without great challenge

    Seems like you’re trolling with this post. You know better than to assume anyone who is fit is only fit so they can go to the beach and impress the opposite sex.

    1. It’s not about impressing others, it’s about understanding my obsession with fitness at the moment. The opening paragraph provides the foundation with the last question:

      “I’m somewhat obsessed with physical fitness right now. It’s surprising, because the new year’s health push usually dissipates by February! Just yesterday I thought, “What’s the point of being thin if I don’t have four pack abs?“ And then I started thinking what kind of person thinks about these types of questions?”

      Am I lazy? Am I making excuses as to why I DON’T want to work on my stomach anymore b/c the marginal effort to get four pack abs is so difficult? Why am I asking this stupid question, when I haven’t cared about looking really in shape since high school, etc. This post is one for the less than fit!

      BTW, isn’t trolling going to other sites and harassing?

      1. I wasn’t thinking that you were trying to make any excuses. I just have a hard time understanding how you could come to the conclusion you did. (The title of the post)

        1 – About being fit and having low self-esteem being related: Which one causes the other? Does being fit make people depressed? Does being depressed cause people get fit? The former only happens in a small number of very specific cases, and I don’t believe the latter ever does.

        2 – Being very fit is success in the realm of taking care of your body, or success in modifying it in ways you want to. Would you claim that people who are successful in other facets of life have low self-esteem? (“Billy gets all the girls, he must be depressed”…. “Frank made 2 million last year. If he had any self-worth, he would’ve content sitting on his ass or partying all year instead of working so hard and making all that money”

        3 – (This is one reason I made that list) – One thing I was wondering from your post is – was your conclusion made based off of what you see in a gym? At the gym, there are “gym rats”, who get themselves (to appear) very fit. They work out and eat well for only 2 reasons – to look good, and to get better at working out. In the closed world of a gym, your point may hold true often, as I would agree that gym rats are often people with lower self-esteem than most. (or just douche-bags in general) …. After re-reading the second paragraph of your post, I do believe that what you described was people who are gym-rats.

        4 – What about your personal experiences related to tennis. I’d guess you play with some extremely fit people at times. Do you believe they have low self-esteem?

        And on Trolling – I’m not so sure on what it officially is but I believe trolling is posting things (that you may not even believe) with the intent to stir the pot or to generate heated discussions.

        I guess what I meant was that maybe you made the post from an extreme viewpoint, which may be more likely to stir up lots of comments – like mine :-)

  31. Jon - Free Money Wisdom

    I agree with both Travis and The Saved Quarter on this one. I think the key here — as in anything in life — is being content and balanced. The overweight person who is in debt is clearly not content because food has become their idol and they have a problem with gluttony and overspending. Likewise, those who are anorexic uphold their image as their idol. Anything that is in excess is wrong. Staying fit and staying out of debt are admirable qualities–ones that should be lauded not shunned. However, finding your identity in anything other than Jesus Christ is going to fail you. Our bodies, our material possessions, our money, are all fleeting. Instead we should strive to imitate the posture that James 4:13-14 asserts, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

    1 Corinithians 6:-19-20 says, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

    1. Ahhh, is that where “my body is my temple” comes from? If so, thanks for letting us know! Does this mean if one is Christian, and really not taking care of themselves, that they are disrespecting God?

    1. Actually, I’m pretty sure one can stay fit without working out and just eating healthy. In fact, I know it’s possible b/c my friend over here never works out and is always so fit!

      1. There is a big difference between slender or slim and fit. I am slender but not at all fit I cannot even run 50 feet without panting. In order to be fit you must work out.

        1. Agreed. I’m pretty thin thanks to a combination of genetics and good eating habits. But I would define “fit” as being physically able to do things, like Joanne mentioned. I need to run for cardio health, and to lift weights for bone health (since the majority of women develop osteoporosis after a certain age, but strength exercises can do a huge amount to decrease the risk.)

  32. You seem to be mistaken in thinking “fitness” is a synonym for “vanity”. Being fit is nothing more than being physically healthy. You don’t need six pack abs or be capable of wearing a size 0 dress to be considered “fit”.

    Unfortunately, I think you paint with a brush that is far too broad. You seem to think that everyone at said gym is there because they want to LOOK good. On the contrary, I think there’s as many, if not more, people there because they want to FEEL good. Living a healthy lifestyle and exercising smartly give one more energy to be more productive and enjoy life to the fullest.

    As with anything in life, there is a segment of the population that take things to the extreme. However, your logic is flawed to think everyone who makes regular visits to the gym to exercise as part of their lifestyle has some sort of self-esteem issue. By that same extension, one could easily say those who drive luxury automobiles, take island vacations, or that have 6,000 square foot homes with five bathrooms also have said self-esteem problems. But, I’m not so closed minded to think that. Again, there’s some segment of those populations that might deserve to be branded such, but I’m sure the majority just like to enjoy those things as the fruits of their labor.

    Those, like myself, who exercise regularly (in and out of a gym) do so to MAINTAIN fitness. It’s not a cosmetic fix where there is some sort of finish line.

    1. Joe, I didn’t say “everyone”, I said “the fittest people”, which is by definition, not everyone, but perhaps the top 5-10%. Feeling great good is a great reward of working out. However, if you’re already super fit, why do you still need to try and feel great unless something is wrong?

  33. A general rule, but remember there are many exceptions. People who have weight problems or a disfigurement often have a very difficult time with self esteem. I understand what you are saying and see the cases you point out, however, the world is a lot more complicated than that.

  34. How do you explain models, and other beautiful people that have low self esteem? Low self esteem is not your exterior or physical, it is how you feel or believe about yourself! That is why beautiful people can have low self esteem.

      1. I saw your post differently. You have a choice of being fit or not. In fact gym rats
        are looking for perfection versus just being fit. You are either born beautiful or not.

  35. This is EXACTLY what I myself used to think, especially about the guys checking themselves out in the mirror, until I started really, and I mean seriously, lifting weights myself.

    I have to make a confession to make my point: I myself look in the mirror while at the gym a little more than I need to, but this behavior does not come from a sense of low self-esteem, or some need to keep reminding myself that I have at least a little muscle. It’s pride.

    It’s the same exact thing as writing an awesome post and reading and re-reading it several times simply because you’re quite proud with how it turned out. There’s no need to keep reading it or looking it over, you already know it’s more than good enough, and you certainly know what it says… after all, you’re the one who wrote it.

    Looking in the mirror like that is the quick little reward for pushing yourself and lifting more than you’ve ever lifted before. It’s the quick little reward for thinking you’ve reached your limit, but instead of quitting, you throw on another 10 pounds, and extend your limits that much further.

    That, and there’s the practical reason for looking in the mirror: after a grueling workout, your muscles are so engorged with blood and there’s such a massive pump going on that you do literately look much bigger than when you walked into the gym, and that doesn’t last long. There have been times when I’ve been working out, have pushed myself past my limits, and then caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and thought to myself, “holy crap! that’s me???”

    Lifting weights and pushing myself to, and beyond, my limits on a daily basis is one of the largest sense of accomplishments I’ve ever experienced.

    1. Hey Ross! Thanks for your candor and confession. Is pride not cut from the same cloth as self-esteem?

      I remember the addiction of working out and seeing progress when I was in HS. I guess I feel I have better things to do now and being ripped doesn’t do it for me anymore.

      Keep it up if that’s what makes you happy. To not do so would be illogical.

      1. I should probably point out that I’m single with no kids, and that if I had a family then my gym days would probably be over. There certainly are more important things in life.

  36. Sam, I frankly have no idea about the correlation between fitness and self esteem. I’ve been exercising regularly for what seems like an eternity. After having my share of injuries (tennis elbow, shoulder, knees) in the past, I’ve opted to go a bit easier. I care about my looks and fitness, but am no where near obsessed. Let me know when you get the answer :)

  37. Hahaha! You’re so crazy! Fit people have ego the size of their biceps.
    You already know fit good looking people carry themselves with more confidence and it projects into the world.

    It’s much more difficult to be fat and out of shape and have high self esteem. Opera and Dr. Phil are the exceptions right?

  38. I think perhaps obese people have the lowest self esteem but that self esteem mostly varies independent of size. That fits with my personal experience but you do have some good logic going on. I also think some gyms select for more insecure people – secure people are more likely to think they can be in shape without a pricey gym membership.

  39. Part of me thinks you’re right sam, but I can say that when I was far deeper in debt than I am now, I knew it was a problem, and I was not happy to admit it. Not only did I care that I was in debt, I cared that other people knew. Of course, I didnt want them to know because I viewed it as a sign of irresponsibility and stupidity, so I decided that I Needed to get out of it. A few years later, I had a plan and have turned around the ship, and it’s given me tons of self esteem!
    I think the fitness part is interesting – I’ve never been overweight (though I was close once, but because of muscle mass, not overeating/lack of exercise) I think that once you reach a certain level of fitness, people that are happy with where they are and know that staying that way will keep them where they want to be (say, for instance they want to live a healthy life) will stop the routine and start doing maintenance to make sure they live a healthy life until their demise. Others keep going (The insecure ones) and end up rail thin, and keep going after that. Seems crazy to me.

    1. Jeff, it’s great you course corrected on your debt and it has boosted your self-esteem! Keep it up and don’t stop!

      I scratch my head a lot when I see someone who is already super thin, super fit run like someone who needs to lose 30lbs when they really need to gain like 15lbs.

      I guess a part of this post stems from a personal trainer I know who is super fit, but is embarrassed to show her abs. It’s ridiculous.

      1. Part of that may be that once you are already thin and superfit, you’re not going to *stay* that way if you just say “Hey! I’m in good shape! Let me quit working out now.” It’s also good for your heart to do cardio exercise, even if appear to be in pretty good shape. It sounds like at your gym you may have run into some people overdoing things, but then, too much of anything is never good, right?

  40. Everyday Tips

    I don’t think there is a clear cut answer here. Some people are obsessed with fitness because of a health scare or some other valid reason.

    However, I think the general people you are referring to are those that go way overboard. Some people just do not have confidence in other aspects of their lives so they over compensate with fitness, surgeries, or how they dress. I currently work with someone who appears to have very little concern about fitness but comes across as very confident. She obviously believes in her technical abilities so she maybe doesn’t feel the need to hit the gym obsessively or whatever.

    We all have our weak spots that we try to compensate for in other areas I suppose. Being overly fit or vain is just one way of doing so.

  41. You have some good points, that’s why happily married couples gain some weight and also why the Laughing Buddha normally has a good-sized gut!

    I think you are really onto something.


    1. Laughing Buddha! Bingo! He’s been around before Christ, and is the happiest guy and isn’t fit. That is exactly what I’m talking about! He has the highest self-esteem!

  42. Chris Parsons

    Extremely fit people often have low self-esteem, I agree. Same thing with extremely frugal people. They are often over-compensating. But that’s about all I agree with.

    Let’s clear up the definition of self-esteem. It is not the ability to not care what others think. It is having respect for and a favorable impression of one’s self. There is nothing wrong with caring about what others think. You shouldn’t derive your sense of self-worth from what others think, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about it.

    People in good shape physically and financially have the HIGHEST self-esteem. They appreciate the importance of health and wealth to their future, and are willing to sacrifice that cheese cake or iPad to achieve it.

    Fat people don’t have self-esteem. If they cared about themselves and their health, they would be healthy. People who spend more than they make don’t have self-esteem. If they cared about their future self, they wouldn’t sacrifice their future for that pair of shoes.

    There is no courage in being fat or in-debt. They may not care about what others think, but more than likely – they do, they just don’t have the self-control to have it be a favorable impression.

    You may want to believe this, to believe that it’s okay to be fat or in-debt because that means you have “courage”, but the truth is that you are taking the easy way out – the coward’s path.

    1. Guess we’ll just have to disagree. Overweight/in-debt people actually have the COURAGE to enjoy life and do whatever they please, not caring about what others think. They don’t conform to what society wants them to look like or do with their money.

      We have the same definition of self-esteem, having respect and a favorable impression of one’s self.

      1. Chris Parsons

        There’s a difference between one’s natural weight and over-weight, and there’s a difference between being in consumer debt for stupid reasons and taking on debt to pursue your dreams and accomplish things.

        Dr. Phil isn’t “over-weight”, he’s at a healthy weight for himself, which is what his whole book is about.

        Fat, stupid people still care what people think. It may seem like they don’t care, and they may say they don’t care, but they do.

        1. The fact that you use fat and stupid just shows your own insecurities, I work out everyday at the gym but I don’t go around putting others down

      2. I think your assumption that they are overweight because they don’t care what others think is sort of faulty. They don’t conform to what society looks like – but typically this creates a *lower* self esteem and causes them to keep eating because they don’t believe in themselves, and don’t believe they have the ability to lose weight. I know it sounds silly, but if you watch an episode of the biggest loser, when morbidly obsese people ARE finally taking that step to getting in shape, you can hear a lot about their self esteem, and how it changes as they get in better shape.

        But I think that you’re right that the guy checking himself out in the mirror every 2 seconds probably has a self esteem issue too.

        It’s interesting because I have one sister who is pretty far overweight, and I can definitely see how that’s related to self-esteem, but my other sister actually OVER exercises, and a lot of that is related to self esteem too (always wanting to lose 10 lbs, when she is already at a healthy weight, because she thinks she needs to look like swim suit models.) Low self-esteem is probably more of a causation for a lot of unhealthy behaviors, rather than high self-esteem causing them.

    2. Chris I completley agree with what you said.

      While yes it is true that fit people can become obsessed with fitness and that causes them low self esteem, most fit people feel happy, are healthy, and live longer. It is importaint to distinguish the difference between obsessed with being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle.

      On the other hand people who are overweight or obese usually do have low self esteem and also care what others think. They simply lack the self control to practice portion control, healthy eating, and excersize. Most of them continue these unhealthy habits due to their depression stemming from their low self esteem.

      The fact of the matter is being obsessed with fitness and being obese are both unhealthy ways of living; they both lead to depression, health problems, and in some cases death. The best practice is living a healthy well rounded lifestyle, exercising, eating healthy, meditating, and spending time enjoying life and building relationships with others. People that practice these habits care about their mind and body and develope higher self esteem.

      1. Listen carefully to your sentence, leading a healthy lifestyle for whom? Yourself or, others so you can feel good about yourself..

  43. What if you’re fit and don’t give a damn?

    I guess that just makes me young. I have to admit, I do thoroughly enjoy a better than average metabolism. However, I’ve still lost much of the muscle mass I put on in high school for competitive sports, which does lead me to my next point: being “fit” isn’t always healthier. I’m thin, but I’m definitely not in the best shape of my life.

  44. Great way to start my day Sam – another interesting post to chat about with friends. At a certain point, it’s really about diminishing returns when you still keep up such a routine.

    Even with finances, once you get a system in place, it’s merely tweaking adjusting.

  45. Money Beagle

    It’s funny because this year I’ve lost around 10-12 pounds which is more than I’ve ever lost when I tried some big routine. I’d always get all excited about it, make a big deal of it, etc. etc. and it wouldn’t work, and everything would be done and over with. This year, I just started exercising, eating a little less, didn’t make any fanfare about it (not even to myself), only checked the scale once every couple of weeks, and it’s been the best success I’ve ever had in that regard. That might not actually tie into your article, per se, but I thought it was worth mentioning as it could be a helpful strategy.

    1. Maggie@SquarePennies

      Money Beagle, that’s the only way I can lose weight too. I just try to eat more healthy foods, get a little more activity into my days, & cut back on portions a bit. If I go on a “real” diet I end up gaining weight!

      Sam, you are on to something here; I am very secure! I am very happy with myself as I am, but for my health & longevity sake I’m trying to eat healthy stuff! Sometimes I wish I were more insecure so I would look nicer in my clothes! lol I wish you some little indulgences, like a hot fudge sundae now & then! Peace!

      1. Awesome Maggie! Those most secure really start forgetting about the vanity side of working out and mainly focus on the health aspect. Treat yourself to a hot fudge sundae after every 5th blog post! That’s what I do to help motivate me to write.

  46. Sam,
    I love your perspective. You always make me think. I can’t argue with your logic. I must have great self-esteem because as I get older, I care less about what people think. I am trying to lose some weight for health reasons. I have lost 15 pounds since February and my knees feel a lot better. I didn’t know Dr. Phil had written a weight loss book. I avoid him since his voice kinda grates on me.

    1. Congrats on shedding 15lbs and more importantly, feeling the difference in your knees! I’m afraid my knees are going to break, playing so much tennis. Asphalt is rough! Yeah, Dr. Phil’s weigh-loss book was a best-seller!


      This is horrible advice. do you think bill gates or zukernburg got to where they are because they don’t care about fiscal responsibility or how there appeared to others?

      i actually really like people like you. you turn men who might of once been competition to me into trash. theres a reason 20% of guys screw 80% of woman. and why 1% of population controls 90% of our wealth. those people cared what others thought about them and they improved upon themselves. Instead of lieing to them self saying ”i must have high self esteem cause im broke and fat”

      1. You sound really insecure… actually comparing rich wealthy people is horrible advice. .. look at Trump… that man was so far in debt the banks couldn’t afford to bankrupt him. Why? Because he didn’t care maybe?

        Are u Zuckerberg. .. are u Gates? Then be quiet

      2. Lol, what do gates and zuckerberg have anything to do with fitness? Horrible analogy bud, and your grammer is terrible

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