So if you have been reading my blog for awhile you know that once in awhile I go on a bit of a rant. My purpose of ranting is to express what’s on my mind, while at the same time allowing you an opportunity to explore a concept you maybe heaven’t explored before.
So here goes..
For the past year or so I have been exploring why I react so greatly when someone looks at another person’s physical appearance and say’s something like ” Oh, that person, right, she’s the really fit one”, or “You should see him- he’s so fit”. Or “I don’t know how he’s come down with this condition he looked so healthy”, or ” He exercised everyday he was really healthy”…etc.
Often when describing a SUPER FIT person, from my experience people are referring to someone who has a low body weight, sometimes this person has visible muscle, sometimes not, and most of the time they are being described ‘fit’ without actually having a clue about what they do physically to stay active. In most of the cases I actually know the person’s current level of fitness (because I have tested/trained them, or know their exercise/activity schedule), and in many of the cases these skinny people are not even active! Many people genetically are small, skinny, some even have muscular definition and ‘ab’s without exercising! So it always makes me smile, and become curious- how are these people who I would more likely refer to as ‘skinny’ get so frequently labeled as “fit”…. Label #1- skinny people labeled automatically as fit because of their low body fat.
PS- what is fit? I am going to mention this a few times in this blog, but I really want you to think about it. Somewhere along the way the ability to run 10 k, a half marathon, or full marathon has become the idea of being fit. What if this fit person can’t do a single push up? What if this fit person can’t get through a yoga class? What if this fit person can’t throw themselves into a team sport and pick it up? My idea of fitness is a well rounded athlete who can sprint, run, jump, lift, swim, dance, bump, throw, stretch, and hold! Aka- someone who is flexible, mobile, strong, and has enough cardio to participate in any sport 🙂
On the other end of the spectrum from the people who aren’t very active, I see people in the gym lifting a crazy amount of weight, or performing fantastic endurance in a cycling class, or in outdoor races, people super active who I think from a society perspective wouldn’t be labeled ‘fit’ (perhaps they are carrying a bit of extra weight, or not enough muscle), yet by physical standards they truly are! Label #2: Larger people not being labeled as fit because of excess body fat.
No let’s look at the words healthy. Sometimes when a person is diagnosed with a disease you might hear others say “I don’t get it, he exercised regularly and took good care of himself”, or something about how ‘healthy’ this person seemed. But what we don’t realize is that even if a person is running marathons, they may be filling up on processed foods, may be super stressed at work, may have a shitty social life, all leading to an overall unhealthy body. What a person does athletically is very minimal in the grand scheme of things in terms of being healthy. Heck- if you truly just wanted to use exercise for health you would walk/jog/bike moderately a few days a week, do a bit of yoga, and lift weights twice maybe. Health doesn’t mean running marathons, powerlifting like crazy, or working out everyday, that’s ATHLETICISM! Label #3: Fit people being labeled as healthy because of their exercise level.
Am I ever advocating that being overweight is healthy? No. But what I am advocating is that people come in all shapes and sizes. One person may get active everyday in a variety of ways, eat clean 80 % of the time, sleep well, and de stress regularly, and have a body mass index of 27 (considered overweight), whereas another may do the same and have 19. Healthy is behind the scenes. Healthy is what’s going on with your digestion, what’s going on with hormones, what’s going on mentally, what do your blood levels look like, etc.
So what does a healthy person look like? I think a healthy person is someone with joy on their face, glowing skin, a balanced life, a nice smile and ability to socialize, someone who takes care of their fitness and nutrition in a balanced way. Their body is a natural weight for them they they maintain by being active and nourishing themselves with good whole foods. A healthy person seems happy, someone you want to get to know! That’s my belief anyways…
So what about Athleticism, body builders, crossfit athletes, marathoners, etc. Are these people Fit? Yes! In different ways of course, and so there it becomes tricky again! Who is fitter? A body builder who looks lean and ripped? Or a marathoner who looks frail but can run for four hours at top speed? I have my beliefs, but what are yours? Are these people healthy? This is where I wouldn’t automatically agree yes. Depending on what sport you do, how vigorously you do it, if you provide yourself with enough fuel and rest to compensate, and what crazy extremes you go to to perform your sport, it may not necessarily be healthy. Body builders will often dehydrate themselves, train multiple times a day, and take plenty of supplements to achieve a certain look, I can’t agree that this is ‘healthy’. Label # 4: Fit people being labeled as healthy because they look lean and muscular.
I believe that if you know me well, or you read my regularly, you know that I have had body image issues in the past. I believe that working as a very fit averaged weight trainer has taught me a lot about these words and what they mean to me. I believe that when ‘skinny’ people are called ‘fit’ I am triggered, because I know that fitness comes in all shapes and sizes, and that most of this blog is stemmed from that. I encourage you to look at yourself, look at others, and look at how you group them into categories. I bet you don’t even realize how ‘fit’ you are because perhaps you are so used to focussing on those 5 extra pounds you are carrying. Perhaps maybe you assume you are healthy because you are active regularly, or maybe you eat well? Think about the whole picture 🙂
For me- when I weighed the least (15 pounds more than I do now) I got PLENTY of compliments about how great I looked, how ‘fit’ I looked. Internally though I had developed two conditions because my body fat % was too low, I had also lost my period, I didn’t have enough energy to have a work life, social life, and clean house, and I drove myself mental with trying to follow a strict diet. I was not HEALTHY, and I couldn’t get through more than a 45 minute workout without my muscles seizing, or me taking a supplement, because I wasn’t fit or nourished enough.
Anyways- I hope this helps you in some way. What are you exercising for? To actually be fit? To look fit? To be healthy? To be an athlete?
How do you define yourself and others?
Share this with someone who might be inspired by these words today, might need them as a pick me up, or might resonate with my message 🙂