With the risk of sounding like a hypocrite-is it just me or is there an obsession with ‘fitness’ in our society today? Almost every girl I know is on some kind of a diet- paleo, no carb, no sugar, etc.- with the aspiration of getting ‘fit’. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being on certain diet plans; I just don’t understand when people that are in relatively good shape and that have no medical condition or restriction, deprive themselves of eating normal food. P.S. I don’t consider In & Out “normal food” but I do consider a peanut butter jelly sandwich pretty normal.
To date, I have not met a girl that has said to me that she’s 100% happy with the way she looks. I’m guilty of it as well. When my workout buddy at my local ‘Fit Body’ boot camp class asked me if I thought I was not in good shape, I instinctively said “I could be better”. This is coming from someone who can do 90 minutes of hot yoga and then go for another workout. I can even run 13.1 miles, albeit not very fast of course because I’m not trying to qualify for the Olympics. Regardless of the fact that I know I’m fit, I know there are girls that are more fit (more fit = leaner, low body fat %) than me who are “trying to get in shape”. I mean, I can’t do monkey bars or rope climb or jump high walls or eat kale on daily basis. Nor do I have any ambition to do any of those things. I blame my answer, “I could be better”, on two reasons. First, society paints for us the picture of a perfect woman; the Victoria Secret model. We will forever strive to be that because it is unobtainable; unless you have a personal airbrush artist to walk around with you. However, the second, and less easy to dismiss reason is the pressure women unknowingly put on other women. When I hear someone who is in extraordinary shape say that she is not happy with her body, it makes me feel like I have more work to do.
Don’t get me wrong- I love all the inspirational pictures/stories and memes and quotes and recipes posted all over my social media pages by women to inspire other women (and men for that matter). I just wish the message that they were trying to communicate was a little clearer at times- aspire to be fit not by the way you look but by the way you feel. Because for me, that is in fact the reason why I workout almost everyday. It makes me feel good. Maybe it’s the release of endorphins after a workout, maybe it’s the energy that you gain after a couple of miles of running or that feeling you get after a good Yoga class- whatever it maybe- bottom line is that an hour of physical exercise for me is like a vacation for my mind. I think at times it even helps me more with my mental fitness than physical. No matter how stressful or depressing my day may have been- I’m invariably less stressed and unquestionably in a better mood after a good workout.
As an added bonus, I have made some great friendships through working out with like minded people. I have also witnessed some amazing transformation of people that have followed their own path to ‘fitness’. Their stories are truly inspiring and their change (physical and mental) commendable.
I believe ‘fitness’ is a very subjective term, I also feel that it’s up to the individual to find their ‘fit’. My new definition of ‘fitness’ is doing everything in moderation. It’s about balance and mindfulness. I have tried giving up carbs but that didn’t make me happy nor could I sustain it. I tried giving up sweets and that actually made me angry; so I learnt my lesson- I don’t deprive myself of things I love, I just eat them in moderation. And I workout. I don’t aspire to be a Spartan (a title given to someone who finishes this coveted obstacle race) or have a 6 pack (not that I ever did) or run in my sports bra (not that I think that’s a very comfortable prospect for me) but I feel fit by my standards because I feel happy in my own skin. And I don’t need to step on a scale or look in the mirror to know that.