Being a girl, I know the pressure that both society and the female species put on us to maintain an ideal weight and size. I have always been skinny, even during the years that I didn’t do much exercise besides the summers I thought I could stretch my way into being able to do the splits (Mission: Failed), but I still feel pressure to be skinny. My weight seems to hold steady at 120 lbs, which I know may seem tiny to some, but I’ve gotten quite a few reactions from people when they make a comment about me probably weighing 100 lbs and I have to correct them. It’s as if their faces are saying, “Oh, you’re fatter than I thought you were.” To them – and society as a whole – weight is measured in fat, but to me, I know it’s because I have a decent amount of muscle. And you know what? Muscle weighs more than fat. So people may judge you for your weight (polite people won’t even ask), but you can rest assured that your body is more densely packed with the muscles that keep you healthy and strong and THAT’S something to work toward.
When it comes to fitness, society has one misinformed stereotype: Skinny people are fit, fat people are not. Let me tell you why this is not always the case. I know several people who have skinny bodies, they look great in bikinis, but they are considered “skinny fat.” (That term basically means that their fat:muscle ratio is off balance, so they have more fat than muscle.) Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, and lazy lifestyles can be disguised with good genes and a high metabolism, but that doesn’t mean they are fit just because they’re skinny. On the flip side, I have friends who work out on a regular basis and still remain a size 12. We have to remember that appearances are not always what they seem and that our bodies are very complex – genetics, metabolic rates, exercise, and diets all play into the overall “look” of our fitness. Some of those factors we can control, some of them we can’t. While we may want to simply complain of the injustice of those factors determined FOR us, we should be focusing our efforts on the changes we CAN make for ourselves – but in a healthy way.
We constantly tell ourselves that we need to reach this waist size, this jeans size, this ideal weight in order to be happy and healthy. We put too much emphasis on numbers and not enough on our own self-esteem as a result of our hard work. Fitness results should be qualitative, not quantitative. I realize in extreme circumstances where you NEED to lose weight, numbers are important, but so is the feeling of gaining confidence and strength physically and mentally. Have you ever watched “The Biggest Loser?” Those contestants are obese and definitely in need of help for the sake of their livelihood, but even on the weeks where they only lose 2 lbs, you can see the transformation in their minds and how they feel about themselves. The numbers don’t matter when the improvement takes place within. I see perfectly fit people at the gym jumping on the scales during and after their workouts, probably obsessing over how many pounds of sweat they’ve lost, but I feel so good about myself after a workout that I don’t really care what the scale says because I FEEL the results; I don’t need a scale to show them to me (or worse, make me feel like my efforts were for naught). We need to stop obsessing over numbers and start obsessing over how fitness makes us feel and how good it is to be in control of our health.
Fitness has many levels worth exploring and reaching, using whatever body God gave us, and I promise that the amazing results you see when you look in the mirror and feel in your daily interactions will far outweigh any number that you would see on the scale.