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Fit vs Skinny

Striving for Fit

I could not believe what I heard during a training session this week.  I had a female athlete under 10 years old tell me that she “just wanted to get skinny”.  It shouldn’t surprise me, but it did. Hearing a young female athlete say that made it so clear that we as a community have a long way to go towards creating a healthy atmosphere for female athletes and female youth in general.

It’s sad to me that “skinny” is a goal.  We, as a community, need to change our mindset and vocabulary and adopt the term “fit” or “athletic” instead.  Why is looking “skinny” a good thing? Typically skinny is identified with a body composition of low muscle and low-medium levels of fat. Why is an unhealthy body image still the image that women even at 10 years old are striving for?  I understand that self-love is taking the globe by storm and I am a huge advocate of it, however, teaching somebody to accept their unhealthy behaviors and view them in a positive light is terribly wrong. If you are not currently healthy, you should accept it and at this moment, make a change.  Love yourself no matter what, but recognize that you should never settle for being unhealthy. There is no reason to accept this. You can make the change and live a better life. Nobody is perfect and that shouldn’t be the focus. The focus should be on being healthy and fit to live your BEST LIFE.  When you attack your health and fitness, your body can’t help but to change to look “better”. It is a side-effect of working hard to increase your quality of life.

Here is why being fit should be the focus and why the idea of being skinny needs to go away.  Being fit allows you to do all of the following:

  • Have energy throughout the day/week
  • Enjoy each moment without pain or discomfort
    • No more back getting tired from standing too long
  • Enjoy sweets here and there with minimal negative effects
  • Allow you to enjoy outdoor activities because you are NOT fatigued
  • Make nearly every single thing in life easier
    • Making only 1 trip to bring the groceries inside for example (like a boss)
    • Walking the dog
    • Cleaning the house
    • Doing laundry
    • Any type of physical labor at all

The list could go on forever, but the most important takeaway is that being fit makes your life better/easier and being skinny does not.  The word “skinny” as a goal needs to be thrown away.

Being skinny does NOT allow you to live your best life.  I’m not advocating that you gain a ton of unhealthy weight, but I do believe that being able to move well, have energy, be strong, be mobile, and have a good engine (cardiovascular health) leads to people that are obviously healthier, but more importantly even is that these people will be HAPPIER.  

We need to set-up our youth for happiness.  Striving to be skinny will not lead to happiness. Striving to be skinny will only lead to a never ending, unhealthy pursuit of a specific body image that will never come.  It will prevent our young females from being able to enjoy the moments of their life while they are not sporting their ideal body.

I hope that we can strive to make an effort to make our community more healthy and fit.  Not simply for the looks of it (although I think most would be pleased), but because our community will be happier and people will be able to enjoy life. The best way to instill the idea of healthy and fit into the community is by developing good habits at a young age.  

Habits are developed at a very young age and unfortunately many times they are not good habits.  Please be aware of what habits your kids are developing and be conscious of the difference you can make in their future.  Be aware of what words you use and how your kids perceive them. Striving for skinny is the opposite of what you want to teach them.  Their self worth should not be reliant on their body image. Of course we all want to like what we see in the mirror, but it is bigger than that.  Being able to enjoy life and live a long, healthy life is far more important than the body image. Chase health and quality of life and I guarantee you that your body will change in a positive way.. There is no way that eating healthy and taking care of your body/mind will not lead to you noticing positive body changes.  Emphasize this. Emphasize the journey of health and well-being. Now is the time to become aware of the words you use when engaging with our youth and begin to empower a healthy journey for them.