Is 2018 your year to get into the best shape ever?
Unlock Your Dream Body
Sculp Sexy Abs!
Do any of these headlines sound familiar? We’re now 4 days into the new year, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve already been exposed to hundreds of what some call “fitspo” or “thinspo” ads designed to motivate you to change the way your body looks. One woman even wrote an open letter to Instagram in an attempt to rid her feed of the plethora of stock images featuring young, unrealistically thin women working out in sports bras.
Don’t get me wrong… I’m not campaigning against sports bras. In fact, I’m a big fan (I’ll spare you a cheesy joke about how supportive they are).
Or did I?
Anyway, I don’t hate sports bras. It’s just that I prefer to actually do “sports” when I’m wearing a “sports bra.”
You see, somewhere along the line, the way our culture views fitness – particularly for women – changed from being performance-based to appearance-based. While I’d argue that the “rhetoric of fitness” isn’t as harsh on males as it is for females, it’s clear that appearance-based fitness messages are impacting men as well. We’re encouraged to work out in order to make our butts tighter, our stomachs flatter and our thigh gaps bigger. We’re promised that 30 minutes in the gym every day will give us our “dream body”, that a magic shake will help us lose 15 lbs in a month, or the latest fitness tool can give us 6-pack abs in no time!
Let’s dispense with the BS. There is one certainty I’d like to make clear…
I will never have thigh gap.
I mean, did you see these monsters? In this picture from my competitive skiing days, I’m probably at ~18% body fat, and there is NO daylight in the thigh area, people. Barstool, sorry not sorry to shit all over your summation of thigh gap:
“Like isn’t this just another way to say chicks want to be skinny? I mean if you’re skinny your thighs don’t touch right? If your fat they do. Seems pretty simple to me.”
Umm, no @stoolpresidente, it’s not that fucking simple.
Sorry for the language, but this issue is one I’m obviously pretty passionate about. Because I think fitness should primarily be about improving your health and performance, and secondarily about how it changes your appearance. Why?
Because I’m an athlete.
Albeit, not an elite athlete anymore, but someone who still strives to improve my strength, flexibility, power and endurance. As an athlete, fitness is not exclusively about losing weight or looking toned – while these are nice ancillary benefits, my primary goal is to improve the way my body performs. I want to be able to play soccer again, be a better vintage ballist (yes, it’s a thing) and maybe even return to cross-country skiing!
You know, just the dreams of the every-day, average American girl.
While my sports affinities may be a little weird, the point is that they require good core strength, endurance and power – things that Bob and I are still working on, which is the ENTIRE reason I embarked on the OC2 challenge.
While there are certainly some outliers, most athletes’ primary goal isn’t to lose weight – it’s to become faster, stronger and better at their respective sports. In short, athletes are focused on performance-based goals. Even athletes like figure skaters or wrestlers in sports where weight plays an important role, the primary focus of working out is to WIN. By winning, I mean everything from being able to do your first pull-up to setting a personal record for yourself to standing on the podium at the Olympics. You don’t have to be better than someone else to win, you just have to be willing to challenge yourself to improve your performance.
And that, my friend, makes you an athlete.
When you set performance-based goals for yourself as an athlete, you not only set yourself on a path to dramatically improve your health and quality of life, you also improve your self-image. Physical activity, especially when you’re striving to reach a performance benchmark – instead of an unrealistic appearance-based goal such as, I don’t know, achieving “thigh gap” – can dramatically change your outlook, even in the short-term. It’s amazing what can happen when you wake up every morning focused on running a faster 5K instead of going straight to the mirror to see if your butt looks any tighter.
So why not set a fitness goal that’s performance-based instead of appearance-based this year? Instead of making 2018 the “year to get into the best shape ever,” make 2018 the year to compete in your first road race. To join a triathlon team. To finish a fitness challenge. You just may find that while you’re busy trying to be the best you can possibly be at your new activity, you get that tight butt, or those 6-pack abs, or… if it’s in your genetic code, maybe even thigh gap.
Seems pretty simple to me.
If you agree, join me here at Battle Hip to share your performance-based fitness goal for the New Year! Maybe even take a Not Your Average Before Photo – I’d be happy to feature some on the blog. Whether you’re a fellow hip replacement recipient, a newbie to exercise, or a seasoned athlete, I’d love to hear what you’re planning to improve in 2018!