“Things aren’t always what they seem”
I think the image and desired appearance, in its most general sense, of what it means to be fit and healthy has long been skewed. For guys, it’s having muscles without too much fat, for ladies, it’s being thin but not looking too muscular.
This image isn’t always accurate mostly because what’s fit and healthy varies based on the person. A person doesn’t have to fit inside a perfect box of being this lean or this strong to be healthy and fit.
I was reminded of this recently. After having a horrible stomach flu that prevented me from running and eating much of anything for five days, naturally it came with a loss of inches and weight.
On that fifth day, I was down to 141 pounds – a weight I haven’t been in years. A pair of my pants that were normally a bit big were so spacious I needed a belt. And I felt weak and unhealthy. I went for a five-mile run and, while it went okay, I didn’t feel my best.
Fast forward to Saturday that week, four days later, I was (presumably) back to my normal weight of 147 pounds and my stomach was noticeably rounder. And I felt strong and healthy. I went for a 20-mile run and, while the heat was really tough on me – and, let’s be real, 20 miles is still 20 miles – I felt pretty good.
My lowest weight in years. My stomach flatter and without bloat. My pants loose. On the surface, that probably seems high-five worthy and the gold standard by which most would believe is the achievement of my healthiest and fittest. But it was actually unhealthy and weak.
I’m at my best when I weigh a bit more and my belly is full and fueled. And it’s about more than how I look; my resting heart rate is in the 40s, my blood pressure is low, and my stress management skills are quite good. I’m strong enough to toss around my one-year-old son and train for a marathon while mom-ing and working for a living.
With temps in the mid-70s before 6 a.m. I bravely ran in just a sports bra, something I’ve been historically uncomfortable doing, my belly back to it’s regularly, flabby self.
I think a lot of the skewed perception has to do with social media. I mean, you don’t see fitness professionals or even the wannabes sharing anything but the most perfect images. The ones with perfect lighting, perfect posing, and likely taken after a fast. Not to knock them and, for some, that typical super-fit image is probably what’s right for them. But it’s not for everyone and I hope this is a reminder to always strive for what makes you feel your best, not how you think you should look.
At 147 pounds, a stomach that carried a baby and loves food, and everything fitting just right, I may not look like the vision of health and fit…but it’s right where I want to be.
Do you believe the vision of healthy and fit has been skewed by pop culture and social media? Do you set goals based on pants size and weight, or on how strong and good you feel? The comments are for you so please leave one. Or, connect with me on Twitter @LindsayIRL.