It happened again. I saw another one of these:
I hate these. HATE them.
Hate is strong word, and not one I ever toss out lightly, but it applies here and I have to get these feelings off my chest, because this is important to me. This type of thing riles me up in a way that only very few things do.
I am all about progress.
I’m all about “finding” motivation.
I’m ALL for women falling in love with fitness and health and their beautiful, wonderful, amazing, sacred bodies.
But I am not okay with ads like this, and I see them all the time. They are posted to IG and FB and Pinterest by women I love, women I care about, women I CHEER for when they post their sweaty selfies and their green smoothies. I’m so happy for them! I’m so happy that they’re not only falling in love with fitness and health and their own beautiful, wonderful, amazing, and sacred bodies, but that they are (very bravely!) using themselves as examples to inspire other women to do the same.
Good on you Girls! Keep it up! Go! Go! Go!
(So, uh, Heather? Where’s the problem? What’s wrong with the advertisement before & after photos that look like this one?)
Ha! So glad you asked!
Let’s really look at this, shall we?
First, so often the “Before” picture on the advertisements is represented by a woman who is already plenty thin and fit-looking…
This bothers me because so many women are striving simply for a “healthy” body weight. Right? So they see this before picture of a woman with a perfectly healthy body and the clear (yet subtle) message is: This healthy body isn’t good enough. A body must look like this After picture to be truly healthy. This After picture is the goal. This perfectly healthy normal body isn’t good enough. This is.
The “Before” picture is quietly whispering to your subconscious lies about what health is and what health looks like. And while the “Before” picture whispers, the “After” picture shouts! And because the “Before” picture seems so innocent, we believe it. This is part of the problem.
Let’s talk genetic presets for a minute. YES! Epigentics tells us we can overcome our genetic presets with lifestyle choices. And I fully believe this is true. Science backs this up. However, while there ARE a small percentage of women who could actually achieve this chiseled and toned physique with a reasonable amount of time and energy devoted to it, these women are exceptions to the rule. Genetics have been kind to them from the beginning.
The truth is to look like this requires a heck of a lot more time and effort than the program that is being sold could ever provide. It requires significant dietary restrictions & weighing those macros, every single bite of them. It requires a great deal of gym time, and lifting heavy weights. A lot of heavy weights. And unless you really know your stuff, and I mean REALLY KNOW YOUR STUFF, you’ll also require a personal trainer because bodies don’t just look like that with a simple combination of daily exercise (even HARD exercise) and healthy (and I mean REALLY healthy) eating habits. They simply don’t.
But we are sold this lie with every single ad like this one.
The images tell the lies. They say that healthy and fit and happy look like this: a chiseled and toned body draped over workout equipment, because WOW! She did this program.
If it could be so easy.
I work out three to four days a week at a Crossfit gym. Like the women I work out with, I’m there because I like it. Because it feels good to push and challenge my body and if feels even better when I do something that I didn’t think I could do. (I’m not there to get chiseled and toned abs. Or Carrie Underwood legs, though DANG those would be nice, right?)
I bring this up only because we workout at a crazy level of intense. (Well. Let’s be honest here. I modify significantly, but the others don’t!)
These women who can do full workouts and then run a mile, don’t look like the woman in the ads. They don’t. We don’t. And you might think, well, they must not be eating right. But I promise we eat clean, we eat healthy, we eat appropriate portions. But we still don’t look like that because female bodies don’t just look like that with simple diet and exercise tactics. They only look like that with really specific and intense training combined with specific and intense nutrient adjustments. (Or a skilled hand in photoshop. 😉 )
And yet, we buy what the ad sells.
This is a very important question to ask ourselves.
If you’re the woman who is chasing the promises of weight-loss videos, cookbooks, pills, powders, whatever -I want you to ask yourself this question and have the courage to answer it honestly.
Are you chasing a number on the scale? The size you were in high school? The image that the ads are selling you?
Because from my heart of hearts and the center of my very being I am going to tell you that your worth is not related to any of those things. It is independent of all. It is infinite. It is eternal. It is inherent. You are a daughter of God. You are a being with Divine potential. You are absolutely perfect. Whatever you see on the scale or in the mirror it isn’t a refection of your worth. Period.
If you do take the time to dig into that question, and if you happen to find your happiness tied up in an image or number please untie it.
Because here’s another truth I’m going to toss your way.
If you are unhappy at the weight you are now chances are, you’ll still be unhappy with the weight you’d like to be. It might feel great for awhile, but happiness isn’t sourced from a size or number or a six-pack. Happiness is found in being profoundly grateful for everything you have and everything you are. Happiness is now, not when.
LOVE yourself. Exactly as you are. Right now. In this moment. Love your body for all that it is. All that it can do! All it has done! It keeps you alive day after day after day. Love it and honor it and please stop holding it to unrealistic standards.
We need to redefine what it means to be healthy. It is not a weight. It is not a size. It is not a six-pack. And yet, these are the things we use to measure our health.
I propose we become much less concerned with the number on the scale and much more concerned with how we feel and what we can do. Do we have energy when we wake up in the morning? Are we getting enough sleep? Drinking enough water? Are we physically active? Do we eat clean and nourishing foods? Do we have the energy to do the things we want to do? Are we happy? Let’s live healthy and think healthy and happily accept whatever that looks like on us, individually.
Let’s shoot more for performance based goals and not image based goals, health-based goals, not weight-based ones, yeah?