Fitness Fallacy

Fitness is a crucial component in my life.  I make exercising a priority five out of the seven days of the week.  Healthy foods have replaced the harmful processed items that I used to binge on at the local McDonald’s.

Being physically fit reaps so many benefits other than a nice looking body.  Completing my workouts makes me feel strong.  This strength is felt in my mind as well as my triceps.  I feel more confident in who I am and the decisions that I make.  Taking care of myself aids in the nurturing of my spirit, which is necessary for a healthy soul.

Aside from my numerous workout DVD’s (Jillian Micheals, POP Pilates), I also subscribe to both Shape and Self magazines.  These have been instrumental in my journey for a healthier self.  I especially love getting to read about celebrities that actually eat like real people.  No crazy juice diets or pill popping here!

As I excitedly leaf through the glossy pages each month, I notice that the “standard” weight that both magazines use to measure how many calories their suggested workouts will burn is based upon a 145 pound woman.  I then discovered a reoccurring theme in the stories in which one reader shares her incredible fitness turnaround:  Size issues.  Many of the woman explain that they were wearing a size 10 in jeans before their transformation.  They go on to talk about how embarrassed they were to have ever been in such a “large” size.  Most are now happily wearing a size 4 or smaller.

Why does this strike such a chord with me?    I wear a size 12.  I bet you are trying to visualize what I look like.  By saying “size 12,” I am sure that many of you are picturing a short, rotund woman who spends her mornings at Dunkin Donuts and her evenings at Pizza Hut.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am 5 ft 11” and weigh a healthy 148 pounds.  Could I fit into a size 10?  Absolutely.  But the problem is not the size of the jeans, it is the length.  Being such a tall person, I have a very difficult time finding pants that fit around my waist AND are long enough to not make me look like Steve Urkel.  A size 10 will fit my waist, but you will definitely be seeing my socks, while wearing a size 12 gives me the necessary length, but is HUGE around my waist.

I do not believe that I am the only woman in such a predicament.  And the clothing industry does not make matters any better.  I remember watching a special on TV where they were discussing the ever changing jean sizes.  One of the manufacturers admitted that extra larges are the new large, larges are the new medium and mediums are the new small.  Seriously?  How can something that is medium ever be considered a small?

The problem is that we, as women, are judging ourselves as well as others based on our supposed “size.”  You should NEVER try to ascertain your healthiness based upon the size of pants that you wear.  I remember trying to stick to a 1,200 calorie diet at the very beginning of my journey.  I felt like I was dying.  I would eat my cereal in the morning, a salad for lunch and a salad for dinner.  I would exercise daily and by the time I was ready for bed, my stomach was growling.  I felt like I had not eaten in days.

My husband finally said to me, “You know, I don’t think you can sustain yourself on 1,200 calories.  Everyone is different.”  Such a simple, yet profound statement.  I had not considered the fact that being taller adds more muscle mass and that I would need more calories to function.  When I upped my intake to 1, 500 calories, everything fell into place.  I was eating well but not feeling like a ravenous vulture.  I was able to lose weight and tone up while adhering to a plan that works for me.

Judging ourselves by the number on the scale is also very dangerous.  For me, weighing 148 pounds is normal.  My doctors always compliment me on being such a healthy individual.  However, if someone were 5 ft. 2”, weighing this much may be seen as being obese.  On the flip side, if someone of my height weighed only 90 pounds, we would swear that she was anorexic or dying due to some terminal illness.

*There are numerous factors that need to be considered when deciding what course of action to take in regards to starting a new fitness plan.  Some of these factors include:

1.       Weight

2.       Height

3.       Muscle mass

4.       Daily caloric intake

5.       Existing health issues

There is no such thing as a cookie cutter person.  We are not all the same and should not be made to feel that there is an “ideal” number we should be trying to ascribe to.  Being different is what makes us the beautiful goddess that we are.  Embrace your beauty and continue to be the best version of yourself.  You are worth it!

*Please consult with your physician before beginning any type of new fitness regime.

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