You’ve criticized your body for so long. Try loving it and see what happens.
It is unfortunate that an industry that has the potential to be so empowering capitalizes on peoples vulnerabilities and uses them to their advantage more often than not. Yes, I’m talking about the health and fitness industry.
“Get flat abs fast!” “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” “Shrink for the Summer!”
These words have all been scribbled across the covers of a few of the latest issues of some of my favorite health magazines. I’m not denying the fact that many of these magazines have some of the most inspiring articles and stories within them, and I read them religiously, but a select few publications grab your attention with unrealistic expectations and that is what drives me nuts.
Being a nutrition and public health student, it is easier for me to notice the absurdity of these claims than the average person because I learn about these things every day. However, what happens when the already self-conscious young girl grocery shopping with her mom sees these magazines in the check-out lane and decides to give it a read? What happens then?
I know…because I’ve been that girl.
You start trying out these crash diets that are promoted as “healthy.” You start comparing yourself to the, often times, photoshopped models on the cover. The little self-esteem that you did have starts to dwindle. And, you feel defeated when the results that you were told you would see in two weeks did not appear.
That’s not what every person who reads a health magazine experiences, but that is what led to a lot of eating issues for me, and I’m sure has been a trigger for many other people, as well.
We’re all a work in progress.
I’ve been known as the “strong” girl my entire life. Strong ice skater. Strong cheerleader. Strong dancer. I gain muscle much easier than the average female, and because of that, my strong, muscular legs were my biggest insecurity. In high school, this led to me taking drastic measures to try and loose the muscle that I wasn’t trying to gain (at the time) in the first place.
I saw women on television that were thin and girls on magazine covers that seemingly had it all, and I placed an unnecessary pressure on myself to look like them in order to feel happy. Reality check: a certain body type is not going to make you any happier or any more confident. Yet, I fell victim to the “Bikini Body in a Week” traps because I didn’t know any better, and this played major tricks on my mind.
Looking back, I was beautiful then, and I’m beautiful now. We’re all a work in progress, and that’s okay.
We have this idea in our mind that “we will be happy when…” and we need to get rid of that notion entirely. It’s unfortunate that we have been led to believe that seeing a lower number on the scale will immediately solve all of our problems. Society has made it so that it feels wrong to be happy and that we always should be striving for more.
Health is not a quick fix. It is a lifestyle. And each day you have to work for it.
Fitness shouldn’t be about looks, but about loving what your body can do.
The human body is quite remarkable. Your body literally fights every day to keep you alive, yet, we spend so much time hating it.
We can all reach a place of peace with our bodies, but that peace is not going to be a result of a smaller waist or thinner thighs. That peace is going to be a result of loving yourself throughout your entire journey. Throughout your entire life, really.
If your goal is to lose weight and start eating healthier, love yourself right now. If your goal is to get stronger and fitter, love yourself right now. If your goal is to compete in a bodybuilding competition, love yourself right now.
If you’ve been working towards your goal for months and have seen progress, love yourself right now. If today is the first day of your new lifestyle, love yourself right now.
My point being, if you genuinely try to find self-love at every stage of health and fitness (not just when you reach your goal), you are not going after your goals out of hatred towards your current self, but to better yourself as a whole. If you think about getting fitter or losing weight as a means to enhance the amazing person you already are, then your motivation will be higher and you’ll find the journey a lot more empowering than dreadful.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Don’t let magazine cover girls make you feel inadequate. Most of the time the girl on the cover doesn’t even look like the girl on the cover because of how photoshopped the photos are. If you are taking steps towards better health, your efforts are not any less valid just because a magazine cover is claiming that there is only one type of “bikini body.”
You are you, and that is your power.
Find empowerment in fitness, not hate. Each workout is making you stronger and each meal is making you healthier. You are doing this for you, not for anyone else. So love yourself, during each phase, because each phase has a purpose, each phase teaches you something new, and each phase is beautiful.
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