FIT or FAT or HEALTHY??
This messes with my head. I love the fitness industry……and I get frustrated with it. We are bombarded with images of perfect bodies, lean and svelte and beautiful….but for most of us, unattainable. We look and compare…..and feel “not good enough.”
I admire (and am a little jealous of) those who have the ultimate discipline to compete as a biking model, have very little body fat and push it to the limit every day. I admire that but most of us can’t be that and don’t want to. I don’t. I don’t really want to give up my weekly popcorn and Diet Coke; I don’t want to limit the yummy summer fruits because “carbs” might keep me from burning extra fat. If that is your goal, go for it and I’ll cheer for you. But for the rest of us that just want to be fit and healthy, let’s not compare ourselves as “less.” Magazines, TV and yes, often social media, show us unrealistic images of what “fit” is. Can we still be fit and have body fat? I think so.
I have a friend who is very lean. She works out like a fiend (because she enjoys it) and has a beautiful body. Her husband commented that her belly stuck out a little bit. AGH! We are women and sometimes our tummies stick out! The expectations of perfection can be difficult and it’s up to us to keep a focused mind on being healthy. It’s up to us to support each other as women and not criticize and compare.
There are people that post their transformation pictures online in their underwear no less, (and not even pretty underwear!) as they share their excitement of seeing a few more muscles pop up. I get that! I love seeing more muscle (I won’t pose in my underwear on Facebook or Instagram though). Have we gone too far? Have we forgotten that the main goal is to be healthy and train our bodies to endure and give us the quality of life that we want? Has our desire to be so consumed with “leaning out” that we will snap a picture in our underwear and post it for the world to see?
Yep, I have belly fat. I work out hard, I eat well…..and I have belly fat. There are days where it doesn’t bother me at all. I’ve had 3 pregnancies, I’m healthy, I feel good, I like how my clothes fit, I have a few curves even!
And then I’ll do a video and see my belly bulge and feel…..embarrassed. I am surrounded by some of the fittest people (like those women on the fitness dvds) and feel like I should be “better.”
I had a fitness assessment done about a year ago and was told I needed to lose 8% body fat. Wow, that’s a lot. My first thought was whether or not I could be that disciplined, do THAT MUCH more than I already was doing. My 2nd thought was if I lose 8% body fat, a lot of that would show in my face. I don’t want to be a lean, chiseled, drawn and haggard faced woman. I want to be strong and healthy! The impression I got from the assessment was that having a healthy % of body fat wasn’t good enough; I should be super lean. I walked in feeling that I was doing what I needed to live a healthy and fit life; I walked away feeling defeated.
Not feeling “good enough” sometimes sneaks into my mind and I have to step away and be objective. The perfectionistic me says, “Well you could cut a few more carbohydrates out of your diet.” The realistic me says, “I would feel awful and have no energy.” The perfectionistic me replies, “But you’re a fitness professional and should be better” and the realistic me replies, “I feel good where I am.” And the conflict continues.
OF COURSE I would love to have a flat washboard belly! I will get an inkling to work harder, have a more restrictive diet, fall in line with the other fitness professionals and get that lean physique. I also know that I am a perfectionist and can be a bit obsessive so I have to be careful because I am driven. The nurse in me steps in and reminds me to be healthy. My blood work is good, I feel good, my nutrition is good, my body can move like I want (usually). Working to get rid of that last bit of belly fat won’t make me a better person. I feel balanced, until I start comparing myself to other, more fit individuals. The danger comes in the comparison.
I just want to say, “Let’s be gentle with ourselves.” If you are healthy and feel good, if you are striving for or maintaining a healthy weight and that is your goal, that is wonderful! Keep striving for better health. Accept yourself, love yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Focus on your goals and what you want and be true to who you are, not to what someone else or the media think you should be.
Let’s be careful of the images we see on social media and recognize that those are extreme. Even the women in the fitness video or photos online took several days to prep to be the leanest they can be for when they are in the limelight. When I work with people to lose weight, we work towards a “healthy” weight that is realistic and maintainable.
Let’s focus on being healthy, feeding our bodies the cleanest and healthiest foods and exercising in ways that don’t break our bodies down. Let’s find balance. And most of all, let’s find self -love and acceptance.