I was on Pinterest this evening, looking for some worthy motivational and inspiration messages to both share with you all and to keep in my personal collection. It’s been awhile since I’d been on the site, but I happened to type in “Fitness” as my search term and these were some of the top images that popped up:
Nitpicking…dissecting…and shaming of the female body as a way to inspire fitness? Is that really the way we want to go? Is this truly inspirational, or are we playing on the fears and worries of many women who may already have a number of body issues. Is it not enough that we are bombarded daily with society’s standards of what beauty is? So now we have brought that same comparison and shame to the world of fitness. Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize that you can tag a photo with as many keywords as you’d like and perhaps I just got the unluck of the draw this evening, but as I’ve been observing the fitness movement that is sweeping the nation, I can’t help but think that there is a bigger issue that we are just NOT addressing.
If we’re going to talk about physical fitness, we are going to also have to talk about health – mental and emotional. Shame and fear are both terrible motivators. Health, true and lasting health, should come from a place of love and understanding. You want to be a better, healthier person because you love yourself and perhaps even because the love you have for those closest to you motivates you to take certain steps to ensure you can maximize the time you are able to spend with them. Understanding comes in as you recognize that there may be ebb and flow in your day to day healthy living, but that these changes are natural and a part of life. Personally, I do not think that chasing after an ideal body part(s) or running from the fear of cellulite is a way to have sustainable and healthy weight loss and fitness goals.
And what really gets me in the midst of all of this – is that all of these “fitness motivation” imagery is more or less targeted at women with a very distinct message..
“Who you are isn’t good enough. You need to have these physical qualities to be considered healthy/fit/sexy.”
The feminist in me isn’t buying that one bit. And while I know from a professional and personal standpoint, that naturally as you reduce caloric intake and increase calories burned (aka good eating and exercise habits) you will see a physical change in your body – depending on HOW you’re exercising and WHAT you’re eating, results WILL vary. And that’s not even getting into what kind of body type you may be. Fit looks different on every…body. Why then, do we insist upon driving home such a narrow and frankly superficial view of what fitness is. And further more…who the HELL are you to tell me what’s wrong with my butt/hips/thighs? I really…REALLY wish that society would spend LESS time concerned with the female body and MORE time focused on promoting holistically healthy imagery, guidance, and examples of the multiple avenues to fitness.
Which brings me to yet another question…what is fitness anyway? What does it mean to be fit? These are questions I’m posing to myself and you as well. What are the goals that you’ve set for yourself? And why? What is your motivation? What drives you to get up in the early morning or go out after a long day at work and put in some time at gym? I hope, that after some thought and reflection, that the answers you come up with are ones that make you happy and will do no harm in the long run. I want everyone to reach their highest self, to be the best they can possibly be. Fitness looks and feels like whatever works best for YOU. Perhaps isn’t thigh gap, or super chiseled muscles. Maybe it’s a dress size or two less coupled with the ability to run around with your dog or kids a little more. Maybe it’s reducing the number of medications you need to take. Or being able to walk or run up a flight of stairs without losing your breath. It could be something as simple as being able to bend over and touch your toes.
It could be any of those things.
It could be all of those things.
But it’s YOUR choice…and you have the power to decide what fitness feels like for yourself. Please, don’t let society or family and friends try to define your personal goals and aspirations for you. You’re the architect here. Make sure you are building on a solid foundation.
Does anyone even hear me out there? Am I the only one who’s kinda over it? What do you all think?