Fit looks different on every body
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Okay, this is the summer that I am going to work on my abs”, or perhaps “WOW, look at that person’s 6-pack”? I am not quite sure how it originated, but for some reason we as a society, and especially those with an interest in fitness, have this ideal that abs equates to being fit. The flip side of this is that people consider others to be not as fit if they do not display chiseled abs. It frustrates me beyond belief that for some reason this is our measure of fitness when there is SO much more to considered. Today, I wanted to share this thought with you to begin to help others shift their focus because the work ultimately starts from the inside out - fit bodies look and feel different on everyone.
Over a year ago I shared some insight in my blog titled, What Does Health Really Look Like, reminding people that physical appearance is only one way to measure health. I strongly encourage you to read it through, but in case you are short on time remember that the following factors also affect health:
Today, rather than touching on this again, I wanted to shift our focus to how we interact with each other. This could be client to trainer, trainer to trainer, trainer to client, or client to client. This can be what you think (but maybe never say), the words you use in person, and especially the comments we decide to post on each other’s photos online.
To me the top comments I notice online when it comes to our bodies?
Wow girl your abs are fire!
Initially the receiver probably feels amazing, being commended for their flat, fit looking stomach. However, this simple sentence or comment runs so much deeper. I struggle to understand that having a 6-pack is the ultimate goal. Having a 6-pack does not equal health for everyone and a lot of people function optimally without one!
Today, I will share a few tips on how to navigate the thoughts, comments, and remarks we may give and receive.
Notice things that are NOT physical. Of course if it is on Instagram the picture is the story, but let’s remember there is more to life than our physical appearance. Maybe interact with the actual caption of the photo next time. Or notice the positive energy and hard-working attitude someone brought to the workout that day. I strive to make this a focus of my clients in class because at the end of the day the workout is so much more than how you look post-class. As a trainer, I will never point out the “abs coming through” on a client because it is their body and their business. It is not my place to add an extra narrative.
Question yourself. If someone’s physical appearance is the first thing I notice, how does that make me feel? Am I insecure about something within my own body? Do they have something that I have always wanted to achieve?
Being fit looks different to everyone. Not everyone is meant to have a 6-pack when operating at an optimal weight, with proper amounts of sleep, nourishment and low stress. When we compliment people for their visible abs, we don’t even know if that actually is best for their body. Not to mention, we take away from all of those other bodies who are strong because we haven’t seen their abs. Everyone can choose to move in the ways that feel best for their body. Feeling our best looks and feels different for everyone.
Physical compliments are NOT the worst. Okay, I know I am contradicting myself. But of course it feels amazing when someone notices you. In my experience, I keep these comments for my close friends and family, the people whose background stories I know best. Although it is of course your body and your business, if I know that my really close friend will feel awesome for me noticing something, the compliment will be given. Just remember, we don’t know everyone’s history and experience with movement, body image, and the relationship they have with their own bodies. What may seem like a compliment to you might make someone else feel insecure.
Let’s share more than our ab goals online. The legacy I want to leave as a fitness professional is just that, professional! Not that we cannot wear sports bras and show skin, but I want to be valued for the expertise I have, the community I am surrounded by and the way I can make people feel rather than people simply being influenced by how “fit” they feel I am in their eyes.
What is one way that you are going to change your narrative on how you view the bodies of those around you?
Yours in self-discovery,