Fitness is pitched to women purely as a weight loss tool. Like, that’s the only reason we should do it. Not to feel good, not to clear our minds, strengthen our bodies, or be healthy. Our end game should always be weight loss. And this, my friends, is bollocks. Naturally, I’m on a mission to change this silly notion and I invite you all to join the crusade!
There is notoriously a problem getting women involved in fitness. The problem is, when it’s served up on a platter as a weight loss tool and a woman starts working out and doesn’t lose weight, she just gives up. If she’s given no other incentive, if no other benefits have been pointed out to her, why should she bother?
For most women, fitness starts to take a back seat around age 18. That first year of university, a lot of women gain 10-15lbs. You may well have a gym membership during this time but you use it primarily for the sauna facilities. Final years of uni, you’re ‘too busy’ to work out. You graduate, get a job, get caught up in your career, get a boyfriend, maybe have kids and before you know it, you’re late 20s/early 30s, overweight, out of shape and unhealthy – not really all that surprising when you think about it. An inactive lifestyle is an unhealthy lifestyle, plain and simple. But because in every possible form of media we’re told we should lose weight, the fear of failing to do that, of putting yourself out there without seeing visible results puts many women off. It may well be that for health reasons you need to, but you can’t make that your only reason.
Women are obsessed with weight. It’s a generational thing. Raise your hand if you remember your mother constantly dieting when you were a child *sees a sea of hands shoot into the air* I was raised during the supermodel era – Naomi, Kate and Linda were hoisted high as our beauty idols. We were all to aim for their slender physiques. Now think of women who came up in the 50s and 60s, where dimensionally, women were even smaller. That generation have been chasing a 25″ waist their whole lives. And so, we watch our mothers diet and think ‘this is just what women do.’ And most of the time we don’t even need to lose any weight. There’s nothing more annoying than a bunch of women who look like they need to run around in the shower to get wet talking about how they have to lose 2lbs.
If women are ever to get to grips with body image and acceptance, we must learn to think of it in terms of something other than weight. I never weigh myself, I couldn’t care less what I weigh. I’m a UK size 12, I’m 30 and I’m in the best shape of my life, fitter than probably a lot of women 10 years younger than me. A year and a half ago, I was a couch potato. What changed my attitude to fitness? Once I started getting into running and noticed the way it made me feel, I just wanted to chase that feeling forever. I preach it time and time again on this blog, but fitness for women should be all about the feeling.
I now think of my body completely differently. It’s a machine. I tell you what – run 13 miles and you soon won’t give a crap about the cellulite on your legs. You’ll just love your legs for the fact they carried you 13 miles. During my marathon, when my legs cursed me as I pushed them further than they’d ever gone, I praised their awesomeness, because my legs are awesome. And my glute muscles powered me up some spectacular hills, so I don’t care if my ass is a little flabby, I have a great ass! My arms can do 30 push ups at a time, my core muscles are strong – I am fit, I am healthy and I feel awesome. I love my body.
I do not know or care how much I weigh.
Parents, I implore you, if you’re raising daughters, raise them to believe their greatness and worth is tied up in something much more important than their weight. Raise them to know that being active is as much to do with having a healthy mind as it is a healthy body. The last thing we need is another generation obsessed with losing 2lbs.