One of the things that makes me sad about being a personal trainer is the constant dissatisfaction people have with themselves. This constant battle with their bodies, to get visible abs, to lose weight, to have a certain percent of body fat. Some of the most “fit” individuals don’t necessarily look like they are. How many people say awful things about Serena Williams for her muscular and large body type, yet she’s by far the best female tennis player in the world and extremely fit. I’ve trained all kinds of body types, some of my thinner clients have worse strength or respiratory issues then my clients who are overweight. Some of my athletic clients are always getting sick and have no flexibility.
What I’m saying is we’re all born with different body types and we need to work with what we have to live a healthy lifestyle. If you’re constantly under stress about the way you look your body is the one that will be paying the price.Â
A body image is like a fad diet. In the 50’s and 60’s the desired body was to be just like Marilyn Monroe and she was supposedly a size 12-16. Girls are now wanting a “box gap,” men are wanting to look like body builders. Are these image types healthy? Well Marilyn Monroe was extremely unwell with her mental and emotional health. Lets look at the “box gap” something women are going to extreme lengths to achieve and even in some cases surgery. Well if you see the body functionally, our quadriceps and hamstrings are designed to flex and extend the knee needed for us to walk which no matter how sedentary or active we do this several times a day. The other surrounding muscles include your glutes (butt muscles) abductors and adductor, and your pelvis, with one of the most predominant functionsÂ being to support us in a standing position. So what does the “box gap” represent in my opinion; Malnutrition, and weakness for basic day to day functioning. A body builder, are they healthy? Well considering before a competition they are basically starving themselves and needing to completely dehydrate so their muscles become more visible I’d say a definite no.
When I was growing up I was always quite strong I surfed from a young age and my body type shows muscle definition easily. As a young girl these large arms however just made me look overweight compared to my petite friends. I would try all those sneaky things in photo’s to never be on the end or to put my hand on my hip to stick my neck out slightly so you could see my clavicles so i looked more bony. It makes me so happy these days to see so many women wanting to be active and strong, and not being judged cruelly by it.
So how do we know what healthy looks like if we’re all born into different body types, if we all grow up eating different foods, if we’re all involved in different sports?
We feel it!
Eat to feel good, move to feel your best, train because when you do you feel alive.Â
Stress will only create more stress internally. What happens?
When your body feels its being threatened it secretes adrenaline and cortisol making your heat beat faster, your muscles feel tighter, your senses enhance. This can be good thing if you’re being attacked or if you hear that gun shot in a sprint race but if you’re putting your body under unnecessary stress it’s affecting both the mind and body and can bring about anxiety, sleep problems, moodiness, an inability to concentrate, chest pain, susceptibility to illness etc.
It’s scary isn’t it? Who would have thought ourselves as a whole is all connected, that what we do, what we feel, what we eat, everything is playing a part in our overall health, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Next time you look in the mirror see through the image that stands before you, and ask can I sit in a squat position comfortably? Telling me that my hips aren’t tight that my core, back and pelvis are working to keep me balanced and upright. Can I balance on one leg? Can I lift my shopping bags comfortably? Can I push open a heavy door? Can I lift myself up? Am I sleeping well? Am I communicating and thinking clearly? How well am I recovering after getting sick or exercising differently? Listen to your friends, family and lovers the best wont lie to you and will say exactly what they think, but most of all listen to yourself you are always your biggest critique.
Don’t move to follow another fad move to function, move because you enjoy it and it’s what our bodies no matter where we’re from were designed to do.