Last week, I was leading a group of my SparkPeople co-workers through a 10-minute core workout. Since I teach fitness classes (including Pilates) regularly, most of the exercises we do as a group are pretty easy for me since I’m used to doing them (and usually for much longer than 10 minutes).
The next day my co-worker Rachel, after telling me how she was sore from some of the moves, said, “Your core is so strong! I can’t believe you don’t have a 6 pack!”
Want to hear my reply?
I immediately responded, “Who says I don’t?!”
“You’ve told me before that you don’t.”
“Oh…You’re right. I don’t.” (haha)
Anyway, it got the pair of us talking and it kept me thinking. I explained how, having strong abs doesn’t mean you’ll have defined abs. After all, it’s the layer of fat on top of the abs that determines how much of them that you’ll see. The more I thought about her comment over the next few days, the more I decided I should share it.
I don’t have a six pack. I don’t have anywhere near a perfect body. I have stretch marks on my hips (that I’ve had since I was a teenager, even though I was a fit and healthy athlete). I have the all-too-common cellulite on the back of my thighs (show me a woman that doesn’t!). My butt sticks out way further than I think it should. And my belly, while mostly flat and definitely strong, does have a pinchable inch or so that turns into a belly roll when I sit down. I’m not ashamed to admit it!
I told Rachel that I could have a 6 pack if I wanted. Heck, I think almost anyone could. But what it takes to get to that point is serious, almost obsessive exercise and calorie counting for most people. I’ve been there before, but what it took to get there (and stay there!) was mentally and physically exhausting. I’d rather be “okay” with how I look and have a normal life where I can eat ice cream when I want to and exercise moderately…not obsessively.
I think that most people would expect that fitness instructors, trainers, and experts who seem to know it all about working out and eating right would have perfectly toned bodies. And you’re not wrong to think that’s the case. After all, gracing the cover of every fitness video and magazine are the bodies of super toned fitness models and trainers. They’re not shy about showing off their ripped abs and muscular legs in their skimpy workout clothes either. Is that the true picture of fitness? No wonder we all think we need to change our bodies.
I think these people are the exception to the rule. And not only that, but they make all of us regular people think that being fit and healthy means looking like a model on a fitness magazine cover. That couldn’t be further from the truth. More and more research is showing that fitness and fatness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Overweight people who exercise regularly are healthier than thin and “normal” weight people who don’t exercise.
By eating right most of the time and exercising to focus on your health and fitness level (and not for the sole purpose of looking perfect, losing weight or burning calories), I think you’re more likely to reach the point where you like the way your body looks and feels just enough...or maybe more. And no matter what it looks like at that point, you’ll be healthier as a result. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
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