Are Health And Fitness Idols Really Inspiring Us?
Google ‘perfect body’ and will find yourself searching through 1.38 billion results!
Are You Truly Being Inspired?
When I was in my late teens and early-20s, I wanted to look like a Victoria Secrets model.
I starved myself, beat myself up and hated my body for everything I wasn’t. So after years of self loathing I decided to step it up a notch and get stuck into exercising. The more I exercised the more I found myself looking up to athletes and fitness pros with their washboard abs and perfectly shaped butts and hating the fact I didn’t look like them.
So once again I jumped on the cycle of starving myself, beating myself up and hating my body for everything it wasn’t. Yet no matter how little I weighed, or how hard I ‘worked’, I couldn’t figure out why I still didn’t look like these ‘perfect’ women.
I felt like a complete failure and became so desperate that I begun to spend hour upon hour reading magazines and searching the vast expanse of the Internet trying to track down the answer. I needed to find the best training program, the best diet and the ultimate quick fix to get me into that perfect shape.
It wasn’t until I hit my mid-20s and gave bodybuilding a go that I began to see things a little differently and started to shift my perception. For the first time, I wanted to be strong over thing, I wanted to be healthy over skinny and I wanted to stop living in the dark trap of perfectionism I’d created for myself.
A quick Google search for “model diet” will give you over 439 million results, whilst ‘lose fat’ will score you 307 million results and ‘perfect body’ will have you clicking away searching through 1,38 billion results!
With technology making information more readily available, and health and fitness ideals thrust upon us more intensely than ever before, it’s not surprising to see more and more people looking to celebrities, fitness professionals and athletes for the answers to their problems.
But most of us aren’t fitness models, athletes or bodybuilders, and we don’t have the time, passion, drive, adherence levels or Photoshop skills we’d need to achieve the physiques we’ve found ourselves idealising so much. The reality is, most fitness professionals, celebrities and athletes live and breathe what they do. Their livelihoods depend on it after all. So they bring together teams of professionals to work around them and/or continue working at it until they’ve developed the very high adherence levels needed to create the physics they require.
But I don’t know many people who personally love the idea of preparing and eating perfectly weighed portions of chicken, broccoli and brown rice, training for 2-3 hours a day, 6 days a week, and picking and having teams of people picking and prodding them apart. Yet, this side of things is often hidden from sight, or normalised, and we’re left feeling like this kind of lifestyle is something we should be desiring and working hard to achieve.
It’s enough to make you feel ill… And no-one should ever be made to feel like that! Yet eating disorders and disordered eating are estimated to affect over 16% of the Australian population and a staggering 89% of Australian women have admitted to opting to cancel plans, job interviews or other important engagements simply because of how they look.
What kind of quality of life have we found ourselves accepting? How much of our worth are we placing on unrealistic beauty, lifestyle, financial standards?
We need to learn to pause and a step back from our initial impressions of these ideals and begin to take a much broader look at the psychological impact valuing these messages and the way we accept them has on our mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
When we see images of physique competitors or bodybuilders plastered all over our social media feeds, it’s easy to forget that these people are the minority, and that the reality behind these images isn’t as glamorous as it’s often made out to be.
When we see sculpted professional athletes, thin models and perfectly shaped celebrities, what we often overlook is the time, energy and resources they have had to invest to pursuit this image of perfection. They surround themselves with trainers, dietitians, therapists and chefs, all of which are dedicated to the one goal of making sure the person looks a certain way for a role, or a photoshoot or is able to perform at their peak at exactly the right time.
So is it fair for us to place such expectations upon ourselves? Are they realistic or achievable for a majority of people? The simple answer isn’t just no, but it’s a hell no!
Life is to be enjoyed, so enjoy it, whatever that means to you. We are all different. We have different passions, lives, loves and desires. So if you’re heart lies in becoming a professional athlete, then that’s great. Go after it with all your heart. But for most people, giving up their job, time with family, a drink with friends, the odd sleep in and an enjoyable lifestyle for strict dieting and training regimes won’t likely bring about the pleasure and fulfillment their heart desires.
Please understand, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take on a fitness program just because it’s written by a fitness pro, or take inspiration from the diet of an athlete you admire… We should all be trying to live healthful lives. But I think it’s important to always take a moment when we look at such things to recognise that we do not not live under the same circumstances as many of the people we admire or have put in front of us, and therefore place the right amount of value on the messages being delivered to us.
Tags: athletes, body acceptance, body esteem, bodybuilding, exercise, featured, fitspiration, fitspo, love yourself, Mental Health, models, personal training, role model, self esteem, WellBeing
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