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idea if this nasty and judgmental person is a fitness professional or simply a shallow minded fitness nut operating on outdated information.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

 

 

Straight Talk About The Fitness Industry

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I’ve been in the fitness industry for over 26 years.  Coaching people on how to stay fit and healthy is my passion and extremely rewarding.  I really love seeing people thrive in every area of their lives.  Can you tell that I love my job?  I hope so, because I do!

However, there is a very superficial and at times even judgmental side to the fitness industry that can frustrate me as a professional and often times cause more harm than good to the public.  Lofty unrealistic goals, low-calorie restrictive diets, before and after pictures, and peer pressure can result in physical and emotional injury.

The fitness industry has a tendency to base a healthy lifestyle on how your body looks on the outside. Oftentimes, they show you images of air-brushed professionals that workout for a living.  I’m not knocking their hard work and dedication, but how you look on the outside is only one piece of the puzzle.

When I was a size one and ripped, my body was completely broken down from over training and I went into a depressed state.  Fortunately, God used this time in my life to help me figure out what a healthy lifestyle was really all about, and I figured out it is VERY personal.  I’m now a size six and much healthier than I was back when I was a size one.  I’ve got more curves and I’ve learned to embrace them and enjoy my life to the fullest.

A happy and healthy lifestyle is SO much more than how you look on the outside. It’s a total package that includes things like having healthy relationships, working with purpose, exercising or participating in physical activity you enjoy, having enough energy, eating well and dining with the ones you love, having fun, loving yourself and the people around you, eliminating unnecessary stress and in some cases people in your life that may be causing it, getting good rest, drinking lots of water, getting good check ups at the doctor’s office, growing spiritually and emotionally, and having self-confidence in who you were designed to be.

Please understand there is plenty of good in the fitness world.  My hope for you is that you will pick and choose what’s right for you during each season of your life.  Just because your neighbor is getting strong and lean at the local bootcamp class doesn’t mean you are a slacker if you choose walking in the park with your dog to stay fit.  You could be raising four small children and she is an empty-nester that has a completely different schedule.

Avoid copying someone else’s life.  It’s like borrowing shoes that are too tight.  Figure out what works for you and stick to it.  Don’t allow the marketing of the fitness industry to steal your identity, push you into something you may not be ready for, or make you miserable.

I’m not saying you will love every minute of your exercise routine.  It’s okay to suck it up and do your abdominal exercises when you know spending those few minutes working hard will keep your back healthy.  That’s called pushing through your comfort zone to keep your body strong enough to do the things you are most interested in.

However, for the most part, a fit and healthy lifestyle needs to be sustainable and enjoyable.  Suffering is not natural.  You were designed to enjoy your life.  And that should include your exercise and meal plan!  When your fitness and health goals are obtainable and match the type of life you want to live, success will follow.

With love,
Jennifer Ledford

P.S.  Have a question or story you’d like to share?  Please leave a comment below.  I love to hear from you!