Lately in the media, there has (gratefully) been a slight shift in the way being “healthy” is portrayed. Most advertisements, memes, inspirational quotes, etc. are beginning to emphasize to women that strong and fit is better than skinny and gaunt. Which, duh. I think deep down, we all knew that cayenne pepper and lemon juice were not the keys to long-term health.
Here’s the thing though: The idealized end result of these new campaigns is still a far cry from where most women start or end. Let’s take this one for example:
…..Alright, confession time. I totally pinned this hardbodied little
brat athlete to my fitness board on Pinterest. And I thought to myself, “YES!! Healthy it TOTALLY the new skinny!”
But then, seriously. Ladies, I think we can all agree that she looks phenomenal. Her results are the kind you get when you dedicate your entire life to the cause. From what you eat and how much, to how many hours a day you spend in a gym. And for many of us, outside factors (age, injuries, jobs, children, love of cookies and cheese…) make such a commitment impossible. She looks fabulous and fit. You know how else she looks? UNREALISTIC.
We’re being told that healthy is the new skinny, yet being bombarded by photos and “inspirational” quotes that tell us that in order to lead healthy lives we must be constantly disciplined and eventually reach “perfection” in the form of toned arms, a lifted butt, and six-pack abs.
A couple I found today:
1. “You will regret eating that cookie. You won’t regret running that mile.”
2. “Unless you puke, faint, or die–keep going” – Jillian Michaels
Ugh…does anyone else hear the shame here? Look. I don’t want to send the message that aspiring to be in kickass shape is a bad thing. I desperately seek it myself. I want to be the girl who chooses to eat an apple instead of a donut because it’s better for my body. I want to be the girl who would rather go for a run than watch edited Sex and the City reruns on E! when I have the entire series in my possession.
I’m not there yet. I may never be. But can I be honest with you? This no-excuses, no rest, relentlessly striving fitness culture we’re being bombarded with isn’t helping. I’m personally finding it a little discouraging. If I work my butt off and lose ten pounds and still don’t look like that picture, then what? Am I still “not there”? Anyone who’s ever tried to change their life through changing their lifestyle must hear me on this one: DO NOT BE FOOLED.
Do not believe the message that if you are eating something besides kale you’ve failed.
Do not believe the message that if you didn’t leave the gym feeling nauseated from exertion that you’ve failed.
PLEASE do not believe the message that if you aren’t ripped, or are terrified of Crossfit or hot yoga, you aren’t doing something great for your body and your overall health.
Here’s my take on the above quotes, by the way:
1. Will I regret eating that cookie? Nope. Will I regret eating three of them? Absolutely. Everything in moderation is not crap, or we wouldn’t continue saying it.
*Side note, If any of you have notes on moderation and how I can achieve it, CALL ME.
2. Jillian, for the love of all things reasonable. If I feel like I’m going to faint, puke, or die, I’m going to stop. Same goes if I’m sick and my body needs to heal. A workout should challenge you and exhaust you. It should certainly not kill you, or cause you to vomit (almost worse, in my book).
I’ll be honest, y’all. I’m not expert on this stuff. I skip more workouts than I complete, and eat way more pizza than is wise if I hope to achieve my goals. I struggle too. I just wanted to put it out there tonight that maybe, just maybe, all this inspiration is doing more harm than good.
If we keep looking at our efforts and measuring them by “perfection” or “failure” (and nothing else), I have a strong suspicion where the needle will end up pointing.
Maybe we need to look at today, and ask: Did I get enough sleep? Did I drink enough water? Did I try to fill my body with good fuel, and limit what I don’t need? Did I exercise? And more importantly: Did I do MY best? If we can answer yes for all or most of those questions today, then you know what? We won today. If not, tomorrow is coming.
And that’s pretty damn inspirational to me.