I didn’t start exercising in order to get abs.
I wanted to quiet my anxious mind. To distract and heal it from the near constant thought spirals that would regularly include such popular themes as:
- Would I ever be successful?
- Would my parents ever be proud of me?
- Did I deserve love?
Exercise gives me strength, not just physical, but emotional determination to tackle a world that can often be unforgiving. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the physical changes that comes from melting myself into a puddle on the floor a few times a week. They are a pleasant byproduct, but they are not the reasons I started.
I thought this made me immune to the constant stream of fitness models I see on Instagram and the ‘guaranteed’ 2 week belly fat blast articles in the magazines I read. I was wrong.
One morning, I found myself twisting and turning in the mirror taking photos for ‘transformation tuesday’. I wanted to show the world I was ‘improving’. I wanted people to tell me I looked great. The praise though could not detract from the fact that I felt anxious again, but now rabbit hole included some new topics:
- Could I train in just a sports bra and not feel ashamed?
- Why was I not as strong as her?
- Why did I not have abs yet?
Yes, we are back to abs again. The one thing I had never thought of, until it was all I could think about.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look or feel a certain way. But remember, there is a significant proportion of the fitness industry geared towards making you feel that you will never measure up. It is a business and your self esteem is not profitable to them. Of course you will need their plan or product to help you reach this impossible goal that they have set for you, and then when you don’t, because you can’t, it’s because you did not try hard enough.
Here’s the thing: fitness, whether we are talking aesthetics or performance, is an entirely subjective process. I could never be 2 x Fitness Woman on Earth Katrin Davidsdottir (my personal hero), not just because I am slightly lazy and like pizza, but simply because I am not her. Even with her training and nutrition behind me, I couldn’t be. My body is different: height, composition, hormones, genes, everything. The only person I can be is me, which is a good thing too. This is my body, my life.
Taking inspiration from those you admire is hugely motivating: watching Katrin smash double DT makes me want to go and train that very minute, but should watching her ever make me feel bad about myself, no, absolutely not.
Exercise is 100% about empowering yourself.
Harnessing the innate power of your body and channeling that into building a better life, whatever shape you want that to take, is what it is all about.
Train for your reasons – not those dictated to you by an industry that profits from your insecurities:
If you want to train for aesthetics – go for it, I admire your dedication
If you want to train for strength – do it, you total bad ass
If you want to train for mental health reasons – I am totally with you my friend