I’m writing this blog today hoping that those close to me won’t roll their eyes having to read what I’ve been bitching about the last couple of weeks. Ah, well… here goes:
Recently on a Fitness blog (er, Facebook page, rather) the admin wrote that when people claim to love their body at any size, it was a cop-out that kept people from pushing hard in the gym and from achieving health. I say: Yes and No.
Yes, for some it is a cop-out phrase. In fact, most of us have used it circumstantially: indulging in one more slice (small, I swear!) of chocolate cake, hitting the snooze button instead of hitting the gym (what’s one rest day?), or swinging through Carl’s Jr. for their $6 Bacon Guacamole Burger (lots of protein in that, right? But hold the onions because they make me gassy). Those are just a few *ahem* random examples. ;-P
And again, that phrase “Love your body at any size” is entirely circumstantial. I do not know a single woman at ANY size or level of physique that has fully and adequately loved their body. With all this self-denigrating, body-loathing so pervasive in our culture, this is just the TIP of why this fitness blog admin’s post pisses me off. She went on to say she just meant “unhealthy size”. That was the exact term she used, with no index of what “unhealthy size” meant. The coupling of this term is problematic. Here’s why:
“Unhealthy” could mean incorporation of any of the following:
--Consumption of sugar, salt, processed foods
--Consumption of dairy, non-pasteurized dairy
--Consumption of meat
--Consumption of carbs; grains, wheat
--Consumption of alcohol
--Eating more than 3 times a day
--Eating less than 5-6 small meals a day
--Eating fat/Not eating any fat/Eating low-fat
You and I can sit here all day and argue for and against each of these bullet points. Fruit contains sugar—should I cut that out? The protein powders used and highly regarded on that Fitness blog (as well as many others) contain both salt and processing (sugar as well!), so should those be eliminated? Dairy causes inflammation; meat is murder (please don’t sue me for infringement, Morissey) and can spike our cholesterol. But dairy and meat both contain excellent proteins (where do you think we get whey protein from!?) Also, wine and beer have proven to be good for both the memory and the heart, carbs = energy, and fat is good for heart and joint health. As far as meals go, 5-6 small meals can wreak havoc on a stomach if there is no digestive “rest” and eating only 3 meals a day can lower energy levels and bodily processes.
So there it is. Everything healthy is really unhealthy and vice-versa, right? Well, no, that’s not the point. Because the human body is so dynamic and complex, “healthy” is an adjective. It’s a descriptor, not a noun or classification. My friend who suffers from celiac disease can’t eat gluten, but I can. My other friend who has a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease won’t eat meat, but I do (too many nut proteins cause my skin to break out). My husband drinks copious amounts of coffee and would close down a Starbucks in an hour if they ever offered all-you-can-drink-French-Roast and is in tip-top running shape like a sleek cheetah, but if I have more than two cups I’m having an anxiety attack.
As an adjective, “healthy” contains more shades of grey than that damn book I can’t bring myself to read. What works for me does not work for you, and vice versa. I can’t run hard with my bum knee; a friend of mine can’t do certain lifting or asanas because of her bum back. Luckily, there are many ways to color ourselves “healthy” beyond the "what works for that chick/dude" mentality.
This brings me to the misuse of the word “size”. We all know Marilyn Monroe was a size 12 in her day (which I think is what we call an 8 or 10 now?). But I also know that Scarlett Johansen, J-Lo and Kim Kardashian are not size 2s and they are still physically delicious (I know debatable). Even Alicia Marie or Kim Lyon (Fitness & Figure competitors) won’t fit a size 2 and their weight (not fat percentile) is actually in the mid-upper range of what constitutes a healthy BMI. Curiously enough, in looking at that Fitness blog admin’s photos, one friend commented how it did not inspire her while another found the photos wholly inspiring. The difference is not in the fault of the blog admin's body, but in each of my friends’ own ideas of what they wanted to achieve personally: leaning out and being thin and ripped, or gaining muscle mass and definition without cutting.
Again the beauty of the human body is how different we all are. Our bodies are literally different shapes (often described as endo-/ecto-/meso-morphs) and capable of pushing different boundaries. There is no one single fitness regimen/eating plan that fits every single person.
THE ONLY SHOULD THAT SHOULD EXIST IS THIS:
EVERY WOMAN SHOULD IN FACT LOVE THEIR BODY NO MATTER WHAT SIZE OR SHAPE.
(And men, this can include you, as well, but as this is an unfortunate soul-sucking, self-denigrating discussion among us in the vaginally-equipped community I’m directing my discussion and gendered terms/pronouns there.)
Loving is a verb, an action word. If we are incapable of loving ourselves and that means ALL of ourselves, then we are forever unhealthy. We all love people who have characteristics or habits that piss us off, and yet we still love them, right? So why can’t we love all of ourselves in spite of our perceived flaws?
Specific to this blog: Love your body right now. Love those curves, those stretch marks, love all over those sagging parts, those scarred or atrophied places. The moment you realize that those are all wonderful pieces worthy of your attention, you will be granted the freedom to do with them what you will. Eat and train to create them into what you want, or leave them as they are in their natural occurring state. You can always love your body no matter what size, without having to love that size. That number doesn't carry any value until you assign it value. The joy and beauty lies in it being your choice—your choice to love yourself as you wish and NO ONE, not me nor Hollywood nor the IFBB nor that admin on that Fitness blog can ever tell you what that should look like, and ESPECIALLY never ever ever to tell you to not love yourself as you are.
And that, my friends, is what happens when you piss off a dirty hippy. She writes a blog post and sends you all love.
Love and light, especially to that Fitness blogger.