I was reading your latest update on Fitness Fondue and I completely agree with what you’re saying. YES the media, fashion industry, celebrity world, modern society etc have a lot to answer for in influencing men, women, boys and girls on body image (especially impressionable younger generations). BUT, as you said, people are not taking enough responsibility for themselves and their own feelings.
The amount of times I’ve heard the same response from adult women in the past week with regard to the Protein World ad that caused so much controversy – “It MADE me feel so fat!”- I’m sorry, a poster MADE you feel fat? An inanimate object forced a feeling on you? I find that highly unlikely. More likely is that you already felt unhappy with your body and this advertisement unfortunately brought that feeling to light. Yes, that sucks, but take some responsibility for yourself if you are feeling that way. No person, no object, certainly no poster can make you feel anything; you feel your own feelings, and only you dictate that. Don’t give a poster power – it’s just paper.
I may sound like that Protein World poster doesn’t bother me in the slightest, and truthfully, it doesn’t. It’s not that I think I’m “beach body ready” (or whatever it was all about), it’s just that I’m FINALLY confident and happy with what I have. With my lot. And I’ve worked hard to get here. At age 29 I’m finally at a place where I actually am proud of my body and I never thought I’d get to this point! How did I get here? Well, therapy, which in itself was obviously hugely beneficial (goodness knows where I’d be without it) and helped me learn to ACCEPT my body and teach me how to have a healthier relationship with food. It can still be a bit of a battle at times (long time habits die hard) but finally the light has gone on in my head – I want to treat me body with respect, I want to nourish it, take care of it and make it the healthiest it can be. I don’t want to punish it or destroy it anymore. If I saw a friend treating their body the way I had been treating mine, I would call them crazy – why on earth would they be trying to kill themselves? Why do they hate themselves so much? But I couldn’t see that I was doing that to myself. Like so many people out there, I just thought I was doing what I could do to keep my body where it was and not gain weight. I didn’t see how much I actually hated myself. Eating disorders have a magical way of pulling the denial curtains over a person’s eyes and not allowing them to see the true extent of the damage they’re causing.
ANYWAY, I’m digressing a tad here…so yes, therapy set me on the right path to finally allowing me to accept my body. Which is a miracle in itself after spending half my life battling my body.
I’ve always been a complete cardio junky – running junky really. After buggering up my ankle training for a marathon a couple years ago, I had to find something else to tide me over while running was a no-go zone. I’d always been under the misconception that weight training was for men. It made you bulky. It didn’t really keep you fit. It certainly wasn’t for girls – especially girls with eating disorders who wanted to be the skinniest wee thing. What utter bollocks. In the past couple of years I have been constantly learning, working, training, achieving new goals with my weight training. And through it I have felt stronger, fitter, happier and ultimately more confident than I ever have.
Sure, it’s tough as hell. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices along the way. Goodbye alcohol. Goodbye processed food. Goodbye late nights. Goodbye sugar. I could go on, BUT, what I keep reminding myself of, when I have those moments of “Oh, its not fair, I just want to have a big slice of cake/bag of sweets/*insert most delicious food item imaginable here*” is that this is my choice. My decision. My responsibility. No one is forcing me to chose this lifestyle – similar to how no one can force me to feel any which way. I can easily go out, get drunk, eat as much as I want to, lie in front of the TV all day and do sweet FA. But I choose not to – I choose to get myself out of bed at 5:45am every morning to train. I choose to plan my meals ahead. I choose to spend my money on gym kit and supplements instead of girly clothes and beauty treatments.
And why? Because I love feeling strong, healthy and fit. I love learning new exercises and techniques and trying them out. I love seeing my body develop and refine itself. I love how when I started, I had no upper body strength whatsoever, now I am continually amazed at how it can push itself further and further. I love looking in the mirror and seeing a 6-pack staring back at me (when my lower abs aren’t feeling shy…the buggers).
There is no ‘end game’ with this, I can’t imagine I will get to a point where I think “ok, that’s me done now”. Because it’s not just about the aesthetic results (although yes they play a huge role) it’s also about how this has made me feel mentally stronger. When you see your body changing and evolving in a way you never thought possible it really makes you think “Damn, I’m pretty strong, I can really focus my goals and achieve what I want to achieve” and that can tap into all aspects of your life.
It’s such an ace journey (even though I might grumble and moan at some points from hunger/tiredness/achiness), and thats exactly what it is – a journey to keep learning, and keep training.