The Desire To Be Healthy Versus The Desire To Be Thin

 

Social media is an interesting platform.  I use it because I think it’s a great way to interact with my family, friends, clients, and the people and/or businesses I like to follow.  In general, it’s a great way to connect with people.

However, wherever there are people, toxic behavior can pop up.  I personally believe that there is more good than bad on Social Media but unfortunately there are some real trolls that hide behind their computers.

I recently saw an example of this when I stumbled upon a video regarding health and weight that made my blood boil. Total disclaimer, I have no idea if this nasty and judgmental person is a fitness professional or simply a shallow minded fitness nut operating on outdated information.  I didn’t watch the entire video because I could only stomach watching the first few minutes before I had to shut it off.  Yes, it was that awful.

Normally, I do my best to ignore nasty people and move on.  This time I couldn’t.  This human being was stepping on my turf and based on what I did hear, this person is NO expert.  I have spent years coaching people, taking classes, and studying fitness and health in order to help people stay fit for life.  I felt morally obligated to address what I believe to be a completely misguided point of view.

Basically, this person was claiming that size is always related to your health and if you have some extra padding in certain places you are unhealthy and at risk of heart disease.  This individual had no problem hurling all kinds of other ridiculous insults that in his mind he thinks should help and motivate people.  Really??

This type of thinking and flat out assumption is one of the main reasons I take issue with the marketing and theories that a portion of the fitness industry is promoting.  Usually, the desire to be thin has very little to do with health.  The intellectually honest side of my industry knows this,  and we are preaching a totally different message these days.

Over the years I’ve trained people of all sizes and I’ve learned that it is never a good idea to judge someone’s health by their size.  I’ve had the opportunity to perform numerous health assessments and review enough doctor’s reports to learn that there are larger people in great health.  I personally know curvy women that run marathons and look amazing in skin tight clothing.  I also work with men who are fit and strong with larger builds.  Sure, there are people that need to lose weight for health reasons (some of it serious) and I help coach them throughout their weight loss journey with compassion and common sense.

However, I’ve also seen a lot of damage done to people’s bodies due to yo-yo dieting and overtraining in their attempt to achieve a certain size.  Eating disorders are very real and they are usually camouflaged under the guise of “eating healthy.”

Not everyone was designed to be thin, or tall, or look super ripped.  Healthy bodies really do come in all shapes and sizes.  We have a choice and it’s pretty simple.  We can focus on taking care of ourselves and enjoying our life, or we can allow a very powerful industry and some incredibly judgmental people to bully us into trying to force our bodies to become something they are not.

Years ago, I was at a very low weight that was not healthy for me so I decided I was going to stop focusing on being thin and focus on self care instead.  I weigh more now and I’m way healthier.  However, during the time I was underweight, some people would observe my body size and assume I was healthy based on my looks.  My own personal experience is a perfect example that there is so much more to being healthy than a height and weight chart.

I recommend that you focus on self care and then put on your blinders.  Turn off the diet messages that are tempting you to restrict yourself just to fit into society’s narrow view of what a healthy body should look like.

Sometimes the best way to avoid the shallow people in this world is to turn off the chatter and ignore them altogether.

Make it your best week yet!

Shared with love,

Jennifer Ledford

 

A Few Thoughts After What Happened In Las Vegas

Last week, our nation experienced a tragedy that shocked people around the world.  We are grieving the loss of fellow Americans and others that were visiting our nation.  I am having a difficult time holding back the tears while I write this.  My heart hurts.

The tragedy that took place was a harsh reminder that none of us really know when we will leave this world.  A reminder that it’s really important to focus on what matters most and living life to the fullest.

What comes to mind when you think of a life lived to the fullest?  I think that’s a really important question for all of us to ponder.  What do you really want in this life?

The lovely actress Sophia Loren was once quoted saying “I’d rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero.”  So simple, yet so profound.  To me that quote means she would rather live her life enjoying each day than be a slave to a scale or to a clothing size.  In other words, she is allowing herself to be free to LIVE.

When I was smaller than a size two I was criticized by photographers.  No matter how hard I exercised or restricted the food I ate, I still wasn’t perfect enough for them.  Constantly restricting myself to gain approval from others ended up being a prison and led me into depression.  When I decided  to stop caring about what others thought and shifted my focus to living a full life I got my joy back.

Allowing yourself to be free to live your life doesn’t mean that you stop exercising and eating well.  It simply means that you won’t restrict yourself in an attempt to manipulate your body into a size that it wasn’t naturally designed to be.  If your goal weight doesn’t allow you to enjoy the things you like in a way thats moderate and healthy, then you could end up being pretty miserable.  Or, in the worst case, you could harm your health.

Life is way too short to allow superficial things and ideas to control you and cause you to miss out on living life to the fullest.  Which is why I passionately recommend you design a life that is well balanced and brings you joy.  In other words, just be you.

When you allow yourself to “just be you” and live authentically, you are giving yourself permission to be free.  And with that freedom, comes peace.  Being at peace with who you are and what you are capable of at any give time, gives you the freedom to focus on the things that matter most and are most precious to you.

Make it a great week.  Spend quality time with the ones you love and doing the things you love.  Time and experiences are two things we can never get back so it’s good to invest our time wisely.

Shared with love,

Jennifer

 

 

How To Feel Comfortable With Your Body And Enjoy Your Life

Jennifer Ledford - Hawaii Vacation - Be Comfortable With Your Body Enjoy Your Life - Broken FootLast week my husband and I joined some of our close family for an amazing beach vacation in Kauai.  I have never been to Hawaii and it was such a special treat!

Some of you know that I broke my foot back in September.  It’s not completely healed and I’m still wearing a boot, which means I haven’t been able to exercise the way I normally do for several weeks.  I’m also pasty white right now because I didn’t hang out in the sun as much as I normally do this time of year.   I decided a spray tan was out due to the fact that I can’t stand very long on my broken foot without the boot.  The tan is  not worth interrupting the healing process.

Did the fact that I was a bit less toned and neon white mean I was going to hide under a cover up?  Heck no!  It’s Hawaii and I like to wear bikinis.  I also stopped caring what other people think about my body a long time ago.  If someone is shallow and doesn’t like my cellulite then they don’t have to look at it.  I’m not wearing my bathing suit for them.  I’m wearing it so I can play on the beach, get some sun on my body, and create fun memories.  Plain and simple.

One of the reasons a person will hire a personal trainer is to help them get ready for a special event or trip.  Beach vacations tend to be some of the most common trips that motivate people to want to lose weight.  For many people getting into a bathing suit and heading out to the beach can stir up all kinds of comparison and body shaming.  If they don’t look like a fitness or swimsuit model the client feels they shouldn’t get in a suit.   Or, if they do decide to put on a suit they believe they should  cover it up with other clothing.

The reality is most of us DON’T look like traditional swimsuit models, myself included.  I’m not willing to deprive and torture myself to get anywhere close to looking like most swimsuit models.  That’s just not my natural body type.  I have to do things that are physically and mentally unhealthy for me to get even close and I’m not willing to treat myself that way.

Losing weight for a trip can be a slippery slope that can lead to unhealthy restrictive dieting that is unsustainable and will only harm you in the long run.  Dieting robs you of your joy and keeps you from living in the present.  When we restrict ourselves in hopes of obtaining the “perfect” body that we think is accepted by society, we are setting ourselves up for potential failure.  Your body does not like to be deprived and restricted.  It will rebel against suffering and that is when binging can occur.

Treating Your Body Right

When you focus on eating plenty of food that you know is good for you and exercising for all of the right reasons, you will settle into your natural body weight and it will no longer be a struggle to maintain it.  However, I can honestly and personally share with you that if you continue to try to force something unnatural on your body, it becomes a prison.  Will the scale go up and down from time to time?  Sure it will.  That’s NORMAL.  It’s called life.

One of my favorite plus size models, Ashley Graham, shares this awesome insight on body image and self acceptance, “I felt free once I realized I was never going to fit the narrow mold that society wanted me to fit in.”  I totally agree with her because I felt the same freedom when I gave up on being a size too small and decided to focus on being the healthiest me I can be.

You don’t have to lose weight to put on a bathing suit or any other item of clothing.  Don’t ever allow the pressures of the diet culture  to cause you to miss out on having fun.  Be a rebel.  Love yourself no matter what size your bathing suit is.

And most importantly,  go out and LIVE!

Shared with love,
Jennifer