I don’t really know how to start this post even though I’ve been ‘drafting’ it in my head for two days. Let’s just start with the photo above.
It’s a fun fake Women’s Health cover that I had done at a great event on Saturday morning hosted by John Lewis and Women’s Health. I went to catch up with other health and fitness bloggers, do some yoga with Colby Hanks overlooking the Olympic park and sweat with Anya Lahiri and Richard Tidmarsh.
I loved the event, the atmosphere was great, everyone there was passionate about healthy living and it’s always great to hang out with people you have something in common with even though you haven’t met in person before.
Being surrounded by everything health and fitness related for a whole morning made me think a lot about what I see around me when it comes to fitness ‘inspiration’. The sad truth is that among some really great people / publications / initiatives, both online and offline, a large part of the health & fitness world has a long way to go.
Women are still bombarded with crazy advice on how to get a six-pack in 12 weeks or how to get some supermodel’s body by just following a few little exercises. Women are still bombarded with images that say that we have to look fit but ALSO cute, dainty and sexy. Women are still bombarded with food plans where calories don’t add up to more than 1500 a day.
The latest issue of Women’s Health magazine that I got was actually better than I remember it being (I haven’t read magazines for a while). I didn’t spot bullshit on every page and it actually had some great healthy eating tips and article about what to do in the weights area at the gym. It also had, however, a photo of Britney Spears in a sweater and undies. Ummm… how does that outfit makes sense I have no idea but maybe only those under 30 get that sort of thing.
Anyway, at one point of the event, right after a sweaty 15 minute HIIT workout with Anya actually, I popped in front of the white screen to have my Women’s Health cover photo taken. I put in on Facebook without spelling it out that it was a fake and people totally thought it was real!
That blew my mind.
It made me so happy to know that there are people who think that someone like me could be on a cover of Women’s Health. My friends on FB have restored my faith in humanity a little bit, they’ve shown me that not everyone expects a polished beauty queen on a magazine cover.
In reality, Women’s Health would never in a million years put a photo like that on the front cover though. Not only for the reasons that a) I am not a celebrity b) I do not have my hair done c) I do not have make up on or d) I am not in my 20s – but also because I have big arms and there is no hint of sexiness to my pose. (go guns! 😉
Big arms and a goofy smile are just not what sells Women’s Health right now.
Unless the big arms and a goofy smile were on a man…
Continuing on to the online world – there are so many great, real, down to earth, beautiful young (and not so young) fitness bloggers out there but at the same time you only have to hit on a hashtag like fitspiration on Instagram and you’re instantly in a world of total mind-f*ck (apologies for my language). I’m not going to describe what you find there, I just wouldn’t have the words…
Mommy bloggers have been around for ages now (I was one for 7 years) and after a few years of only writing about the rainbows and unicorns of being at home with 2 under 2, they learned that it’s ok to keep it real. That there is nothing wrong with keeping it real – after all, the realness shows that we are all in this together, we look different, our bodies like different things, we are different shapes and sizes but we are all in this together – we all try to stay sane in this crazy world and enjoy our lives with healthy bodies and minds…
The same I think needs to happen in health and fitness. It is happening but not at a great speed. I’m old enough now to turn the page when I read about cellulite busting lotions or how to get Kim Kardashian’s butt by doing a few squats with a 15kg barbell… but there are a lot of young women who are struggling to figure out just who they are and can really be influenced by what the media (social and traditional) is telling them.
I have been that young woman. I remember it well. I remember raging against my large arms because that was not the body type that was/is considered to be ladylike. I remember raging against my inability to blow-dry my hair or to put on make-up.
Everyone will eventually find themselves and stop comparing themselves to celebrities or their friends or somebody on the street… but it takes a long time and until it happens everyone could be helped a little, by others around them just keeping it real… By showing that you don’t have to be ‘at it’ 24/7. And by ‘at it’, I mean exercise like mad and eat ‘clean’. It’s ok to be kind to yourself, to listen to YOUR body, to eat what suits you and not just what is in the list of being ‘clean’, to take a rest day now and again, to not need a ‘bikini body’ every summer…
Health and fitness is a lifelong journey. The goal is not six-pack in 12 weeks. The goal is to enjoy life… to enjoy living in your body… to get the enjoyment from how it FEELS to live in your body and not from how your body looks (although as for me, I feel best in my body when my weight is under control and I do something sweaty every day)…
I have so many thoughts in my head right now but I’m not sure how much sense they all would make on paper (screen) right now so I’m ending here for now.
I think most health magazines and bloggers have the right intentions but so many are still afraid to let their perfect facade down a little bit – just because there are so many beautiful facades out there and who wants to lower theirs when they would be in the minority…
There is a little urge in me to change the world. I totally want to see someone on the cover of Women’s Health flexing their guns!! (not a man!)