I am a person who was not healthy for most of their life. I actually spent 35 years being overweight, then obese, then morbidly obese. It was no fun, believe me. I missed out on a lot fun things before finally getting healthy and losing 130 pounds with the help of three tools- gastric bypass, a total change in my diet, and a new commitment to something totally foreign to me called regular exercise.
Life is totally different now and I got so into being healthy, that I became a certified personal trainer and also water aerobics instructor and am also in school to get my license to become a Registered Dietitian. I also host a weekly radio show all about living healthy called “Fit Living.” Yes I am all about health. Very rarely will you see in my home, cookies, candy, or anything loaded with processed sugars. We rarely buy soda and if we do it is diet only. My kids eat wheat bread and whole wheat pasta and we try to keep meals balanced with lots of good veggies and lean proteins and complex carbs.
Do we eat perfectly? Of course not! Do they have occasional treats? Of course. Do I? Of course! It is like I tell my fitness clients- strive for 90% healthy choices and the 10% not so healthy will not really have an effect on your overall level of health and fitness.
My fitness clients are from all over the country and my program, Fit and Flourishing is 100% online. Local members can meet with me in person when they need some face to face attention for no extra charge. I do this because it is my passion. All of my workouts for them can be done at home without joining a gym or owning a piece of cardio equipment. If they don’t want to buy weights, we use canned goods and water bottles. The point is ANYONE CAN GET FIT regardless of budget or time issues. I do NOT charge 50-100 dollars per hour as most trainers do. I charge $12.99 per month for a workout plan, monitoring and mentoring daily if desired, nutrition guidance, plus daily accountability and group fitness, support group, and also health and fitness webinars. Of course I know my services and time are worth more, but to me it is more important to make a fitness program affordable enough that anyone can become a member and get REAL WORLD help. You cannot take a family to McDonald’s for $12.99 or get 3 Starbucks in a month for $12.99 so no I will never get rich, but I will help as many people as I can. The catch? The member has to do the work. I cannot force anyone to stay in touch with me daily or log food and exercise etc. For those who do the work, they get results. REAL WORLD results. Not promises of looking like Miss September.
With all of that said, the fitness and diet industry just baffles me, and what baffles me even more is the billions and billions of dollars we spend on unnecessary products and gimmicks. It makes me sad to see women striving for something that is just not real. The sad thing is it starts as young as 8-10 years old and only gets worse as we grow older. I believe this has also been a contributing factor to the obesity rates in this country over the last 50 years. When young girls begin to diet at a young age, it completely throws our bodies ad metabolism out of whack. Unhealthy habits begin to form and take hold for a lifetime.
Who decided that to be beautiful, we had to look like we belong on the cover of Sports Illustrated? I see this all the time. Women hire these trainers who look like this and who make them promises of the same as long as they do what they do. “Come to my boot-camps at 5am and eat nothing but chicken and lettuce and you can look like me!” And this happens with some male trainers as well. They look like they belong on the cover of
Muscle Magazine. Many times that “me” has fake breasts, uses substance abuse to stay thin, participates in steroid abuse, eating disorders, and so much more. Now do not get me wrong, there are MOSTLY AMAZING trainers out there so this is NOT to stereotype them. I just happen to know from personal experience that they are out there. I have seen them, worked with them, and know them personally. I actually know one trainer who preaches clean eating constantly and gets sloppy drunk 2-3 days per week. How is that clean? It is more common than you realize. Most trainers KNOW the average person will NEVER look like Mr. Muscle or Miss Sports Illustrated, and guess what? That is okay! What is NOT okay is false promises and the feeling that if we do not achieve this, we are not whole, or not a success or beautiful.
The bad trainers convince us that puking during a workout is awesome. Yes this is the latest fad among many trainers. I am sorry, but puking is your body telling you something is wrong- it is NOT normal or healthy and is a sign that you are overdoing it in a big way. Television shows like Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition only add to the madness. Does anyone realize what these people do? Does the average viewer know that these people sometimes workout for up to 6 hours per day and are dehydrated before a weigh-in? Do people understand how many regain their weight after coming home and back into the real world?
We look at celebrities in Hollywood and fashion models and see these rail thin women and believe that in order to be beautiful, we have to look this way. Who decided this? Who decided that skinny equals pretty and anything BUT skinny is unacceptable? So many women, and I include myself, as I used to do this too, buy into this socially constructed idea of beauty. Most of what we see in the media is not even real. There are VERY FEW PHOTOS in top magazines, of celebs, that go untouched. One man in London does nothing but touch up these photos for a living and he is a millionaire from this industry.
Take a look at these pictures: Look at the before and afters. All we see in magazines are the afters and so we think people really look this way and so should we.
These are not even the more drastic examples. The last photo grabs me the most. I think that model is beautiful. Sure she has some curves to her belly and is not rail thin. But she is beautiful- even before being shaved down. Look at how much smaller Katie Couric is made. Look at the wrinkles removed from George Clooney.
I am absolutely NOT advocating that women stay obese. Obesity is killing us at an alarming rate due to the diseases it contributes to like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. What I am saying is that we need to STOP striving for these unrealistic ideals and strive for good health. Unrealistic ideals are contributing to our emotional and eating disorders and only making the problem worse, not better! The bottom line is that being skinny does mean automatic good health. Many women who are rail thin are healthy and are naturally thin. There is NOTHING wrong with being thin either. But being thin because you have traded a food addiction for an unhealthy habit like smoking, drug abuse, even an exercise addiction, is NOT HEALTHY. We have to realize that our beauty and self-worth and value are not in any way tied to our size, regardless of whether you are a size 8, 10, 16, or 26. We must be able to love ourselves before we can do anything about our obesity, and when we do, our goals have to be real and healthy.
Our goal should not be to “be skinny”, a better and more healthy goal is to live life and enjoy it and truly be happy. For my clients, the ultimate goal is to get to a point where you are not counting and measuring every morsel of food you eat. We strive to teach them about good healthy nutrition practices and healthy exercise habits. Once living healthy becomes a real habit, you will no longer need to weigh and measure every bite of food and count every calorie and log every morsel, and you can truly JUST LIVE and be healthy.
When my clients compare themselves to friends or each other, or people they see on tv, it upsets me so greatly. How can we say we all want to be a size 8? There is a HUGE difference in what a size 8 would look like on someone 5 feet tall and a size 8 on me at 5’11”. If I got to a size 8, I would look like I belonged in a concentration camp. I love and am proud of and embrace my curves.
We have got to stop doing terrible things to our bodies in the name of trying to achieve this socially constructed idea of beauty. I see women buying into every new fad diet or pill or silly extreme. I see people trying all of these “diets” that range from unrealistic to absolutely extreme and insane. You will see eating no carbs, no fat, high protein, no protein, juicing, Paleo, HCG, Body by this or that, doing these body wraps, going on a binge and purging, spending up to $300 per month on trainers and gyms, and the list goes on and on and on.
In addition to seeing some trainers who have more fake parts than real, and advocate eating clean and then get drunk every weekend, I see others who brag about their healthy habits and regular exercise and then see them smoking??? REALLY? You are going to be a health advocate and SMOKE???? You are going to tell people to do what you do and they can be as fit as you, yet you smoke? Really? I have no issue with social drinking and am not saying you cannot drink on occasion and be healthy, but know alcohol is a slippery slope and be mindful of that. HOWEVER- there is no way anyone can claim to be healthy or advocate for good health and smoke. Yet I see trainers out smoking all the time. IN PUBLIC!
I do NOT and will not EVER look like a Sports Illustrated cover model. But I am a beautiful, fit, healthy woman who in spite of injuries and setbacks, will be attempting her third half marathon in 3 years in January. I am a wonderful trainer with amazing clients. If anyone looks at my less than perfect figure and says, “wow, she doesn’t fit the image of a typical trainer”, I say THANK YOU!!! I sure don’t! I am real! I love this quote:
As women, we need to get back to a point where the natural feminine curves are embraced by us as women. We need to understand that most women simply have imperfections and few wrinkles and rolls and areas that are not silky smooth on their bodies. THAT IS OKAY! You will never get to a place where you are truly fit until you embrace your body and yourself and who you are. Fact- most of us are just not meant to be a size 6. We are not. Period. Strive for optimal health. Strive for good habits and regular exercise. Stop striving for this socially constructed idea of what beautiful or healthy looks like.
These women are all BEAUTIFUL and this photo is from a Dove soap ad campaign and I love it to pieces!
Be you, love you, treat your body well, nourish your body and do not put junk into it, exercise regularly, be balanced, be happy, strive for fit, NOT skinny, and JUST LIVE! If you have a friend who needs this message to stop the madness, PLEASE share with them! Let them know they are beautiful, regardless of dress size! Or for the guys out there, pants size!