Last month I joined Myodetox Performance‘s 30 day challenge: Completing 30 classes in 30 days. I set my own personal goal of 20 classes because I was still doing other workouts, mainly getting back into running and also dropping in at the new Big Hit location. It was a blessing in disguise that I was being realistic because May ended up being a challenging month for other reasons, which meant my schedule was all over the place. Or that I just couldn’t get out of bed.
That said, I still pushed myself harder than I had in a long time when it came to fitness. I’ve been struggling to get back to the best version of myself health-wise for a while now and in the process, the body positivity movement has been resonating with me more and more. Yet not necessarily in the same way it does for others. Health and fitness has (and continues to be) a very important part of my life. Although I’m proud of who I am, what my body is capable of, what it looks like (on any given day) and how I carry myself, the fact that I can’t run a consistent 5 min/km anymore or that turning down the option to drink indulgently in the middle of the week is hard, well, gets to me.
There was definitely a point in my life when I worked out and ate healthy to be skinny. I can’t deny that. But in my late 20s and early 30s when I was getting ready to settle down, a lot of my choices became future-driven. What do I mean by that? Well, the easiest example is having children. I was mentally and physically preparing myself for what naturally seemed like the immediate next step after marriage. I wanted to make sure I had as easy a pregnancy as possible and that I bounced back as quickly as I could. It was one of the first times I started thinking of fitness as a strategy opposed to a quick fix — which it never is.
Of course, I never got pregnant — but that’s another story all together.
And then a couple years ago I stumbled upon this video and had the most basic AHA! moment of my life. (Yes, I dedicated my title to the video). I suggest you take 3 minutes to watch it. Mike Vacanti says everything I would write so much more convincingly.
And this is where my issue with body positivity arises. But I need to preface this first: I believe body positivity is loving your body as it is by treating it right. That means, some of us are big-boned, some of us have thunder thighs (proud member of this club), some of us are stick skinny, some of us are round on top and square on the bottom. Some of us have thyroid issues. Some of us metabolize too quickly. Body positivity is being proud of what we were born with, but I don’t think it should imply neglecting another important thing we were given: our health.
That’s also not to undermine the whole balance movement either. Have that glass of wine, eat that slice of chocolate cake — but in moderation. Fitness in moderation too! Be understanding of setbacks — both external and internal. Yet when we focus on the extremes — on the one hand, as Mike says, fitness can be viewed as “abs, sex and vanity,” and on the other hand body positivity can be viewed as doing whatever we want because we should love ourself regardless, we lose sight of what really matters and why it matters.
I believe body positivity is loving your body as it is by treating it right.
I recently read a great article on what self care really means, and it’s in the same vein as Mike Vacanti’s video. Society has glamorized self love and self care to a point that many are overindulging the sweeter side of life NOW, which can lead to many problems LATER. This quote sums it up nicely, “[Self care] is often doing the ugliest thing you have to like sweat through another workout or tell a toxic friend you don’t want to see them anymore or get a second job so you can have a savings account or figure out a way to accept yourself so that you’re not constantly exhausted from trying to be everything, all the time and then needing to take deliberate, mandated breaks from living to do basic things like drop some oil into a bath and read Marie Claire and turn your phone off for the day.”
And now back to fitness. I feel like I’ve lost sight of why I used to be healthy to begin with — not for a svelte frame, but for a healthy life. I work out a lot, but I’m a) not consistent and b) not eating right. For me, it’s hard to get to a place I’m happy with when I’m just focusing on superficial goals. But when I’m strategically focused on future Meghan, it becomes a breeze. Sometimes that means building towards a goal like a race or, as mentioned earlier, pregnancy (which is not in my cards for while, just to get that straight). Sometimes that means thinking even further into the future and picturing how I want to be in my old age.
I think body positivity is extremely important. But it only makes a real difference if it’s thought of in a truly healthy way. And that’s where fitness and nutrition come in. As well as a healthy mind-frame. So when I’m showing yet another mirror selfie at the gym, it’s me already accepting my chubby cheeks, my thick thighs, my tear-drop boobs…while also being proud of the work I’m putting in to hopefully ensure a long life filled with fun adventures — because I can. It’s also being grateful for the healthy body I do have, and not taking it for granted.