Body Goals: Fitness Goals for You & Not Someone Else
I'll be the first to admit that I've always struggled with body image. Literally, it started when I was in elementary school, when playground bullies would call me fat or four-eyes or some other physically-directed comment. But, earlier this week I had a huge realization.
I have been loving my workout program, 80 Day Obsession, the past 5-6 weeks. Not only do I love the freshness of having a different workout video, even if it's the same workout, but I love the way that it is challenging me. It's like the same moves, but taken up a completely different notch with resistance loops and sliders.
Anyways, I took this picture after my Booty workout on Monday. Yes, it is totally called booty. Anyway, I took it screwing around checking for “booty gains” post workout, cuz #duh they totally show up instantaneously, right?! 😜 And I thought about sharing it on social media.
But, then didn’t.
Even though I think my butt and legs look really good and I’m proud that I’m getting more comfortable working out in a sports bra, I didn't share it because there’s that belly roll as I look over my shoulder.
That damn belly roll. That’s what kept me from sharing it. And damn is that dumb.
You see, I’ve been body shamed a lot in my life. I was called “thunder thighs” at soccer games in high school. People close to me have told me that I should either lose weight or have flat out called me fat. It literally started as early as elementary school for me, and for the majority of my life those experiences have made me consistently feel like the “fat friend.” For a long time, that’s how I identified myself. Even if I wasn’t.
And that’s shitty.
But physicality has come up a lot lately for me. My coach and I were talking a lot about it last week. Since we began working together, I have been rating myself on different areas in my life on a scale of 1 to 10. Specifically, we were talking about what it would take for me to rate myself a 10/10 for my physiology.
Needless to say, I gave her a lot of reasons why I wasn’t at a 10. For example, I don’t have good enough stamina or flexibility, and I gave her a laundry list of things I should add to be better. Running X distance or doing X number of pull-ups or hiking X number of miles.
But importantly, I added that I don’t ever think I could rate myself a 10/10 because I think that there’s always room for growth. I'm inherently self-critical, and for me, personal growth is always a balancing act of growing and improving and not being overly critical and over-identifying with the things that I'm working on.
But that notion of not being able to rate myself a 10 because of this idea that "no one is ever perfect" is only half true for me. Why? Because the insecure little middle schooler inside me won’t ever think she’s physically a 10/10.
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that I won't ever rate myself as a 10/10 also because there will always be that fitness model who is skinnier than me. There always be that person who has a 6 pack and no jiggle in her arms. I hate to say that that is part of the reason, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't true.
And seriously, how fucked up is it that I was still comparing my 10/10 to someone else’s?
This is something that I am consistently fighting against with myself. Because not only is that ideal not necessarily achievable for me (seriously that thigh gap shit is not happening for this chick 😉), but I don’t really think it’s what I want. Ya it would be great to have a 6 pack, but ummm, let’s be real, I like ice cream, beer, wine and French fries a way too much.
I also realized something on Monday morning after our crazy hike on Sunday. I have already crossed off one off of the things on my list.
One of the things that I said would make me feel like I have achieved that 10/10 physiology would be that if someone invited me on a difficult hike, I could just go and do it and not struggle through it, but really enjoy it, physical challenge and all.
And that shit happened on Sunday. A group of about 15 of my fellow Remote Year friends decided we wanted to go hiking to Los Gigantes outside of Cordoba, Argentina. It was just meant to be a leisuirely hike, or at least that's what we all thought. But it turned into a steep climb up some terrain that frankly required us to climb with our hands and feet! It was amazing, but much more difficult than I was prepared for.
But that didn't stop me. I felt like I killed it. Ya, my heart rate got up at times. But I recovered fast and I felt so damn capable the whole time. There wasn’t one moment where I thought I wasn’t physically capable of handling part of the hike. We would stop for a break, I would take a couple gulps of water and then I felt totally ready to go, not even really needing a break. I was really proud of that. But it took me until the following day to realize that that was part of my 10/10 rating. That was one of my qualifiers for what would make me feel like I had achieved the health & fitness goals that I wanted.
And to know that I was part of the way there? I can't tell you how invigorating that was.
For me, I workout because I want to be comfortable and confident in my body. But I also want to know my body’s capability. I want to know that I can do active, physical challenges, and that I can persevere. That not only can I do these things, but I can excel at them. And on Sunday I proved that I'm getting there. I may not be able to go run 6 miles (me and distance running def aren't friends haha) or do a single pull-up, let alone multiple, but I have a lot more physical capability than I give myself credit for.
So ya, I might have little belly roll, but damn I’m proud of my body. It’s capable of a lot. Sometimes I forget that, but when I remember, that’s empowering af.
So, why am I telling you this story?
I’m not sharing this to get compliments. Maybe that's periodically why people have gotten irritated at my incessant health + fitness posting because they think I just want compliments or reassurance about myself. I don't give a shit if someone reads this or sees this picture and says: “Ellyn you look so good” or “def not the fat friend”, though I’d be lying if I said those compliments don’t feel good.
I’m sharing this for all of those women out there who struggle with their body image, who are trying to improve themselves, and who are maybe doing so based on everyone else’s expectations and definitions of fitness are. For that girl whose not built like a model, but is still chasing that long lean physique that isn't achievable for her body type.
Seriously girl, fuck everyone else. Fuck societies standards of beauty or all the "fitspo" and "body goals" ish out there in the world. That's not what we should be focusing on.
What are YOUR goals?! What are the dreams YOU dream of? What is fitness and health for you?
If it’s as simple as being able to tire your toddler out and not the other way around, Awesome!
If it’s to be able to hit a PR YOU’ve never hit before, awesome!
If it’s to have a six-pack, that’s awesome too!
But make sure your goals are yours! Make sure that your goals are for your own reasons and not so someone else will validate you.
Because the definition of beauty will always change. What society deems the ideal body will ALWAYS change. And if we’re chasing that ideal, I hate to say that we will forever be disappointed.
Define fitness for you.
Define health for you.
Cuz your opinion and your aspirations are the ONLY thing that matter.