Welcome to my new series, Claiming Our Space.
I started writing this series not as a way to vent about my weight or the ways of the world, though I will, I am sure of that 🙂 but to help build momentum for a movement. A movement that is three-fold in its purpose:
- Acceptance and love for our bodies no matter the shape or the size.
- Redirection of Fitspo (short for “fitspiration”) to include images of people of all sizes as well as promote science-based fitness info.
- Encourage moderation as our wellness mantra.
Calling All Sizes
We are bombarded with images of the “perfect body,” messages informing us of how to get the “perfect body,” and the expectation that we should all want and work for the “perfect body.” No wonder we put so much pressure on ourselves to look like fitness models. It’s the only acceptable form of the human body. Just ask TV, film and print media – they tell us everyday.
Those images are lovely, but they only convey one type of lovely. I find it so strange that in a society so overrun with choices for EVERYTHING, that only one body type would be considered the right or only choice.
Every person I know has their own unique shape. There are few carbon copies. Why don’t we celebrate that the way we celebrate how many different nationalities or religions or political affiliations we have? What makes one size and shape so damn desirable?
And what about what’s inside those bodies or what those bodies are capable of? Does that matter less than the outward appearance for some reason?
It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to an ideal, but it’s also time to stop comparing ourselves to each other. We should celebrate our differences and we should celebrate the things about ourselves that make us unique or proud or happy.
We can start small. I like my shoulders. I do! I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t feel like a braggart for saying it. (I do feel like “braggart” is a silly word though, and I may never use it again) It’s the truth! Some days, I only like my shoulders and that’s ok, too. You know why? Because not only do I like the way my shoulders look, I like how strong they are. I like that they can throw some weight around. I like how they function.
Can you start small? Can you pick something out about yourself that you really like? Double points if you like it for appearance AND function.
Loving our bodies in this atmosphere of the “perfect body” is difficult, but we are worth a LOT more than a number on the scale, a percentage of body fat or a set of 6-pack abs. Our worth has far more depth than that. Don’t ever forget that.
Amber Rogers, of Go Kaleo fame, is waging a war on fitspo. She, along with her thousands of blog followers (myself included), have begun posting fitness memes that take a different approach to fitness inspiration. They show real people of all shapes and sizes, “lifting clean and eating heavy” as Go Kaleo puts it.
Besides the images we post, what about the messages we post? I am talking about fitspo memes and fitness posts specifically. Are the messages we see rooted in science or are they selling you on the magic bullet? I want to spread science-based fitness advice, not just feed off your guilt in order to sell you something. I want you to learn something that will help you reach your health and wellness goals, and this doesn’t do that:
This perpetuates the idea that foods are either good or bad. I choose to work on believing the truth, which is that food is fuel. Some fuel provides quick energy. Some provides energy over time. Some fuel supports our goals. Some does not. But FOOD is neither good nor bad. This is where I’d like things to be different. We’ll talk about it.
I have tried a LOT of diets. A lot. I talk about it here and did a “science” experiment here. What I’m discovering now, along with many others, is that dieting and the diet mentality just don’t work – at least – not in the long term. We try a new diet and have some success but inevitably, the weight comes back and then next time we try that diet, we have less success, or none at all. The reasons behind that are definitely worthy of their own post and will get it for sure.
For now, though, we’ll discuss the alternative to dieting.
It’s not sexy. It doesn’t have a catchy name. It doesn’t only last 21 days.
It’s mostly just common sense. Eat food. Don’t restrict. Fuel for activity.
If you’re not a very active person, you need less fuel. The opposite is true too, though, the more active you are, the more fuel you need.
It’s not that I think it’s unacceptable to have weight loss as a goal. I don’t! For some, it is medically necessary. For others, they just know they feel better in their skin at a certain weight. It’s definitely still a goal of mine. I am just trying to change my mentality from “short term, quick fix” to “good habits, lasting results.”
Claim Our Space
Unless you’re a craptastic person, walking around tripping people, taping mean signs on others’ backs, a Yankees fan, what have you, you are pretty fantastic no matter your size. We all have talents and abilities. We can all make other people smile. You don’t have to be 5’7″, 125lbs, 15% body fat to be a good person. I work in a gym. I know plenty of assholes with measurements like those 😉
Somewhere, some time, it was decided that people, women especially, need to take up less space. Girls are expected to be small, quiet, ladylike.
The third definition of ladylike in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (after “suitable to a lady” and “resembling a lady in appearance or manners”) is this: “lacking in strength, force or virility.”
No wonder we haven’t had a female president (yet). We’re all expected to claim less space than men, keep our mouths shut and let them to the heavy lifting.
Now, this isn’t a big ole feminist column, but it is worth pointing out that it is OK to take up more space than someone else. It’s OK to be heard and it’s certainly OK to do the heavy lifting! I want this series to be about acceptance and understanding that we are all worthwhile and that our worth is not related to our size. That big or small or anywhere in between, the ultimate goals are health, wellness and happiness. And you know what? You can’t measure those goals with a scale. Forget the numbers for a moment and hold your head high. You deserve to take up space.
If you have topics along these lines you’d like me to tackle – let me know! I’d love to make this as interactive as possible and I definitely want to hear your opinions on Claiming Our Space. Why not comment now? Oh…and HIGH FIVE, you rock!