Since Pinterest blew up it seems like one of the photos that gets repinned on the reg features a girl with killer abs, a tight body, and the words “Strong is the new skinny.”
I’ve had countless conversations with my best friends, as well as numerous internal dialogues about my body. I’m not unlike most women on this planet who have stood in front of a mirror and picked, and prodded, and degraded their bodies for not being perfect enough by some self-inflicted standards.
I know that many would like to place the blame on the ever-present and overwhelming amount of ads and images that bombard us every day emblazoned with models and celebrities airbrushed to perfection staring back at us like goddesses. I can’t really say whether those images have actually contributed or not to my personal self esteem. I don’t necessarily look at them and feel bad about myself. Sure I would love to have Gisele’s abs or Carrie Underwood’s legs, but I regard them as make believe most of the time. Yes, I realize they are actual human beings, but until I have a nutritionist, personal trainer, and live-in chef, I don’t really think we are on equal playing ground for comparison.
Instead, I’ve been more likely to pour over Facebook profiles and obsess over how skinny such-and-such is, or how much weight what’s-her-name has lost, or how great some girl I used to know looks in a bikini.
I’ve restricted calories and not even looked at a weight, hoping that I would lose enough to resemble the waifish figure I want so badly.
I’ve ran until my feet want to fall off thinking that I could run away the fat and it would leave me long and lean like the marathoners in the pictures. (Notice I didn’t think about the fact that those runners still incorporated strength training and cross-training into their workout plans)
I cut carbs.
I add carbs back and cut fat.
I cut fat and carbs.
I counted calories.
I quit counting calories and tried to live solely on vegetables.
All to try to achieve this tall, lean, waif-like figure.
The bottom line I finally realized one day, was that my body was not designed to be a waif. I have strong shoulders and traps that are inclined to be big. I have skinny bird legs that will never show proof of a hamstring no matter how many lunges I do. My arms have muscle in them and will never look like the string beans so many celebrities sport. I have a bubble butt. I have a short torso. And even though I never work on them, I have killer calf muscles.
When I committed to focusing on strength training last year I realized that it could mean that I would bulk up a little. That’s a lot of women’s biggest fear with lifting weights right? After lifting intensely for a few months I learned a few things. One being, women do not have the testosterone required to bulk up. Meaning, just because we lift heavy weights we aren’t going to develop man pecs and look like a fitness model. That requires a great bit of supplements. The other thing I learned, was that even if you workout religiously, and eat perfectly, your body is still only going to be a version of what it is.
If you are naturally built bigger and more muscular, you aren’t going to transform into a Taylor Swift no matter what you do.
No matter how hard I lifted, my body’s natural tendencies still persevered. My shoulders bulked a bit, and my legs gained a little definition, but they didn’t swell up.
After a while I accepted that I was just not built to be a waif, but I could tone my body and be fit. I may never be a size two whose inner thighs don’t touch, but I can be a size six with a toned butt and nice abs. I subconsciously made the decision to focus on being fit, getting toned, and building up my strength over looking like a wisp.
For me, strong IS the new skinny. In my personal journey I have prioritized health and fitness over fitting into a certain size. I want to be strong and able to hold my own.
So instead of striving for Marissa Miller’s swimsuit body, I’m striving to see what MY best body can be.
Have you ever stopped and wondered at what your body, specifically, is capable of? It’s completely unique, unlike anyone else’s, and it’s your blank piece of marble to sculpt as you wish.
It’s a new concept for me, and I’m sure for many women, but what if we stopped wishing and trying to have the body of someone else, and started focusing on having the body we already possess…in its best form?