Recently (well, ok, it’s always been a thing), my attention has been drawn to all the contradicting messages on social media regarding health and body image. It feels like every time I scroll through my feed, I’m hit with something different:
“Detox to lose 7 lbs in 7 days!”
“You don’t need to diet – love yourself the way you are.”
“This 30 day workout plan will get you abs in no time!”
“Work out for health, not to look a certain way.”
And on and on… my head hurts just thinking about it.
Maybe you’re a fitness competitor and you’re training and eating to look a certain way. Or maybe you’re happy with your body and are just committed to enjoying your life. You’re just doing YOU – but it doesn’t matter because according to social media either lifestyle is wrong. There is no right way – you’re either completely devoted to your appearance or you don’t care at all. What happened to the middle ground? That gray area? Does it even exist anymore? Did it ever?
For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having aesthetic goals. Who am I to judge someone whose profession it is to have a kickass physique or a new bride who’s working out to have killer shoulders for her sleeveless wedding dress? Or maybe you just want to wake up in the morning, take a look in the mirror and think “dang, I worked hard, and I look good.” As a society, we think it’s acceptable to highlight and feel bad about our flaws – but if we talk about how proud we are of getting back into shape after having a baby or the definition we’ve built in our booty through heavy lifting, we’re considered shallow and obsessed with our appearance.
On the flipside, there are some of us who are taking conscious breaks from working out super hard. Maybe you had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, so now you are working to fix it by letting go and relaxing. Or maybe you’re a new mom and your priority is your child, not your jean size right now. Well, postpartum moms can’t win no matter what they do – if you don’t drop the weight fast enough, you’re not committed and working hard. If you drop the weight too fast? Then you’re not making your child a priority. Ugh.
We really need to stop this behavior and understand that as life changes, so will our goals. Sometimes we care about being in shape and other times it’s just not the priority. Either phase of life is totally okay – and there is nothing wrong with working towards an aesthetic goal as long as you are not letting it consume your life or lead to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. The problem isn’t having the stereotypical six-pack. The problem is when we become so obsessed with achieving it that we lose sight of what’s really important and potentially damage our health in the process.
So, where do I stand with all of this? I enjoy working out and being fit, and I have no shame in taking pride in my physique. I eat well (most of the time) and work out (sometimes). But that doesn’t mean I don’t know where my priorities are – my family and overall health and happiness (which includes wine, chocolate, and potato chips) will always come before maintaining a certain body fat percentage!
Question of the Day
What are your thoughts? Is it okay to have aesthetic goals?