Skinny is Not the Goal, Healthy Is

I have had struggled with my weight ever since high school.  I remember being in high school and wanting to look just like ‘those’ girls.  

Then one year I had injured myself in grade 10 actually, and it was bad enough that I had to stop playing basketball, no volleyball, no cross-country running, or any of the other activities.  It was the running that caused my injury, and I was on crutches for all of the fall that year.  I don’t ever remember a time that I was down and out for so long.  Our fitness class in school had been training for a run.  It was going to be a 9km run.  We trained in class as well as with the cross-country team and on our own.  I pulled a muscle in my hip to the point that I needed physio and the crutches.  I remember the day when the class all went for the ‘Sea Wall run”  I had to go too, but I was destined to stay behind on the bus.  

In the spring of the next year, I was given the go ahead to get back to activities.  But, my body had changed in those weeks of non-exercise.  I now felt jiggly and huge.  I remember being so self conscience that wearing shorts was really uncomfortable for me.  At that time, there were no lulu type workout gear, it was either big baggy grey sweat pants or little shorty shorts, remember the 80’s?  As a result, I began a steady increase of my weight.  I was so embarrassed with my legs, that I wouldn’t do anything that showed them off, so, no track and field that year or other spring sports in shorts.

I look back now and feel so silly.  Because I played so many sports and was so active, I was in really great shape, just not thin.  Today, I would love to have those dimple free, no cellulite, teenage thighs, but what do you do.  It’s embarrassing to write this because I still manage to have those feelings come rushing back.  I am so far from that place and yet…

As humans, we usually strive for improvement.  We want the new things, faster computers, better reception on our phones, up to date clothes, and then, when it comes to our bodies, something goes a little sideways.  Although society tells us that we should all look super thin, we don’t have a lifestyle that supports that.  The other thing is that society has been telling us for years that we should look a very specific way and if we don't, we should still work to that goal.  

But, and here goes the big but, healthy has nothing to do with what size you are.  Keep in mind that extremes will always exist, but generally healthy has very little to do with size.  The size that society says should be our goal has been determined by the clothing industry that doesn’t generally make clothes for the thinner than average person anyway.  Runway models are so far from the norm yet, that seems to be what we as a society aim for in our body shape.

Boy, are we twisted.  From all the things that I have seen and read, most of those models may be thin, but they are certainly not healthy.  Most have very little body fat, to the point that their bodies don’t function properly.  They also have no muscle definition.  Without a good ratio of muscle, the body doesn’t burn calories very efficiently.

There is a trend to show models of a variety of sizes out there.  Finally!  What the fashion industry is calling ‘plus’ size is almost the average size person.  My concern is that although we still seem to want to see ‘good looking’ people showing us what to wear, we need to keep in mind how superficial this all is.  People in the ads for clothing are, or at least should be, showing you and me how an outfit looks and therefore, encouraging us to buy that item of clothing.  But it's not just the fashion industry.  Advertising in general is showing us the ‘average person’, again it’s about time.  But, there is still a big disconnect with how we ‘look’ vs how healthy we are.  The advertisers are showing us, again, what they think we want to see.

Those girls I wanted so much to look like are what I now call ‘skinny fat’.  They may be thin, but they are actually not very healthy.  Thin should not be our body image goal.  On the other hand, jiggly and having trouble walking up stairs, shouldn’t be the goal either.  We, need to find the happy medium.  We need to stop wanting to look the way somebody wants us to look and start listening to our own body. Our bodies actually know where our healthy point is.

Healthy should be the only goal.  Your ‘healthy' will not look the same as my ‘healthy'.  I will never have those skinny girl thighs for two reasons,

  1. Those girls were not healthy, and
  2. I work really hard at having strong legs, therefore my legs aren’t thin.  

 

There are so many things to keep in mind when trying to find your happy body image.

Spend some time thinking about what your body image goal is and what it should be.  

Think about:

  1. Your age
  2. Your body type
  3. Your actual abilities, not what you used to be able to do
  4. Your daily activity level
  5. Possible health restrictions
  6. Realistic size goal
  7. How hard are your willing to work?
  8. How long are you willing to work toward a new body goal?
  9. How healthy are your insides, your heart, lungs, muscles?
  10. Are you willing to make the changes necessary in your routine?
  11. Are you willing to make changes in your eating habits?

 

When you can be realistic about what you will look like if you were in optimal health, you will be looking GREAT!

 

 

Looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. If you have a healthy lifestyle, your diet and nutrition are set, and you're working out, you're going to feel good. – Jason Statham

 

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