Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Don't Pursue Skinny, Pursue Strong;It Will Accomplish Both

Blame it on Hollywood, or the media, but 'skinny' continues to drive most women (and some men) when it comes to health and fitness. Often, it is even at the expense of their health and fitness. As a fitness professional, it upsets me that the majority of the population thinks that exercise is just to lose weight and get or stay skinny. A day doesn't go by where I don't see or hear someone talking about a weight loss supplement or emulating the nonsense that is perpetuated in 'fitness' magazines like Shape and Prevention. Unfortunately, the media will continue to pedal the images of anorexic waifs.

The pursuit of skinny doesn't work. The idea of starving yourself and performing chronic 'cardio' is a prison. Not only do you physically feel worse, but the 'skinny' mindset is mentally self-destructive. I have seen so many women trapped in this 'skinny' mindset, continually beating themselves down physically and mentally.

Fortunately, and what I am most proud of, is that I have been able to help so many women replace the 'skinny' mindset with a 'strong' mindset. It often takes weeks or months, but I am able to show them that training to get stronger is the key to not only improving your body composition, but improving your body image and feeling better about themselves. Once women see that they don't have to starve themselves, they don't have to spend 10 hours a week in the gym, and they don't have fear getting 'bulky' (the most idiotic, and damaging fitness myth), they can actually enjoy strength training. How about that, actually looking forward to going to the gym because you enjoy the process of getting stronger. You can have balance and enjoy all aspects of your life to the fullest because you are not only stronger, but have a new-found confidence and happiness. Yup, all of that can happen when you cast away the mainstream, fitness conventional wisdom, break the pursuit of 'skinny' cycle, and pick up a barbell.


Jamie Scott said...

Brilliant piece Dan. I could not agree more and this has been exactly what I have been on at for years with my female clients.

Just this week, we were having a discussion in our office how I think the mark of a strong woman is a strong looking butt. Unanimously, the women in our office cringed as they associated even an athletic butt with being big, chunky, and more importantly, they cannot wear skinny jeans.

In my experience in New Zealand, skinny = healthy and skinny = being able to eat & drink whatever you like.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of males in the country are not that discerning either, with so many non-athletic guys not liking athletic women (intimidation much?). The default choice becomes you are either fat or you are skinny. Apparently, skinny gets you laid more often and a happier life....

Does my head in!!!

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed. said...

Thanks Jamie. Yeah, it is often frustrating. I had a client that told me that she and her sister would see who's clavicles where more prominent as a gauge of thinness. Luckily, that client and many others have improved body images now.