I’m fired up, which means one of two things:
- I drank too much coffee and had a kickass workout (confirmed)
- I’ve been keeping something inside and need to get it out
It’s definitely both today.
This might come out as word vomit, but here goes…
I have a problem with figure models. And with girls who say that they’d like to do a figure competition or to be on the cover of Oxygen or any goals along those lines.
I’m not out to crush goals here–so if you’re goal is along those lines, please don’t get pissed off and stop reading…hear me out. The people I have the biggest beef with are the ones who recognize that these kinds of ambitions are unhealthy but aim for them anyways. The people who talk about being healthy and having goals in line with being their best but then admit that the things that go along with achieving their goals aren’t so healthy. It takes a hell of a lot of cognitive dissonance/zoning out to do something that goes against what you say you stand for and doing so can’t possibly benefit your self esteem.
When it comes to this stuff, there are two levels that irk me:
- The actual process, often touted as “dedication” and “determination” involved in the whole shebang. We all know what I mean. The dehydration and cutting water that comes at the end of the line for figure competitors. The severe dietary restrictions and the weighing, meticulous counting, and control that goes along with it. The regimented and specific exercise performed for no purpose other than to sculpt and shape a body.
- The reproduction of a really unhealthy ideal image of what is healthy/fit. The more we see women like this and associate them with health and fitness, the worse. This is a big issue and not one that we can tackle on our own…or can we?
I’d argue that the “big issues” in society–the focus on unrealistic ideals, for instance–are best tackled on an individual basis.
So…what am I doing?
- Not buying Oxygen, Muscle & Fitness Hers, Shape, or whatever magazine it is that is going to tell me how to be “healthy”. I’m stepping this up by spending my money on smarter magazines. Have you read The Walrus lately? What about The Atlantic? You might not find “The Secret to 6-pack Abs by Sunday” in there, but you might just finish reading not feeling like shit about yourself or maybe even with something
more important than how to ignore the fact that the only way to be healthy is to do healthy thingsworthwhile to think about.
- Letting my body do what it wants to do when I do what I want to do. That was a lot of words. I want to be healthy, therefore I do healthy things. Health in my mind is not represented by some outcome–thighs that don’t touch or visible abs or a number on the scale or whatever–but is easily measured in terms of the things I do. Yeah, it took a while to get here–to a point where I actually hold myself accountable and act based in my own interest–but I am concerned with finding a kind of health that is natural (we’re meant to be healthy, kiddos!) and that in itself means I’m finding a long term approach that’s sustainable.
- Changing my approach to working out. Long gone are the days of bicep curls, slogging away on the elliptical, etc. Welcome the days of doing stuff that I love–trail running, biking, teaching fitness, lifting heavy things, zenning out in yoga, doing handstands and cartwheels, hiking. When I’m lifting, I’m not doing it because I want to look good in a tank top. Pullups might give me guns, but they’re also bad ass and make me feel strong and like I could hop a fence if someone was chasing me. If you want to look good flexing in the mirror, continue with your bicep curls and tricep extensions, but I’ll be having fun doing pushups, pullups, and standing on my hands in the meantime. Remember that time you needed help getting up off the ground? Looks like you should start squatting. Or when you struggled to pick up your groceries the other day? Let me introduce you to the deadlift. Catch my drift?
- Talking about this. I think there’s something to be said for saying it. If you don’t have your period, you’re not healthy. Your thighs are supposed to touch. You should be able to take a few days off training. Blindly following the advice of anyone is a recipe for disaster–your life is your own and learning to trust yourself makes a lot more sense and is hella empowering. Following an arbitrary diet plan–however “healthy” it might be–will never be as healthy as eating good food on an intuitive basis. Bacon won’t kill you. Supplements can’t take the place of real food. Nobody’s gonna save you–except you.
I probably could have summed this up in a few sentences: If you’re about health, do healthy things.
You can’t be about looking a certain way at all costs and claim to be about health. If you want to be vain and look hot in a bikini as your main goal, do it. But own it and don’t pretend that it’s healthy. If you want to be an example of healthy living, if you want to inspire the masses, PLEASE get real. Be about your actions–every time you eat, read, say, buy something make sure it moves you in the positive direction for the sake of health and happiness–and the outcome will take care of itself. I’ not saying you’ll end up looking like that model, but I am saying you’ll feel like a million bucks. Your self esteem can only benefit from taking care of yourself. And FYI, nobody’s body WANTS to be under or overweight. Give yourself the good food, movement, and attention you deserve and methinks we’d all be rocking hotter bodies.
Let’s take some magazines out of business. And about the figure competitions with ‘em? I really would encourage you to NOT buy into that ideal. Stop giving your money to something that promotes something so silly. But more importantly, stop giving something so silly your energy. Find bigger, better goals to shape your hopes and ambitions. Put your effort towards being awesome, not just towards having awesome abs. Get okay with your thighs touching–actually, get more than okay…get excited and then go do some squats and give thunder thighs a new meaning.
If you’re a figure model/competitor, why do you do it?
Do you read Oxygen or Women’s Health or any training magazines?