Let's talk about muscles.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the past, when I have set goals to lose weight, I found that it was around now that I gave up. I think the cold got to me.* Anyway, I remember looking at my "motivation board" and reflecting on how I wanted my body to look and feel and just feeling so overwhelmingly far away from that.

While I haven't set a goal like that lately, I am hear to talk to you who have. I have a couple of things to say.

First of all, good on ya for wanting to be healthy. Healthy is good.

Second, I hope you have an idea as to what "healthy" really means. See, the mainstream world of Hollywood and Photoshop wants women to believe that it means looking tight and thin with big boobs and little muscle. Like you were just BORN that sexy and never had to work for it. Take this picture of Britney Spears:

See how in the Photoshopped version, her legs are completely slimmed down? If I was her, I would be TICKED. She had to dance a lot of concerts to get those muscular legs and they just shaved it off with a mouse.

For men, the mainstream view is the same "didn't really have to work for it" idea, only you must have rippling muscles and oiled up abs at all times. Watch any movie with a ripped actor, and they will show him doing anything but working out. Okay, sometimes they show the actor out for a pensive run, but this just perpetuates the idea that going for a jog will make you look like this:

It's simply not true.

Let's talk about all of those pictures you pinned to your "FITNESS" Pinterest board right after Christmas. The photos of six-packed women in black and white hiding behind a sans serif font that reads "Don't give up." Those models worked pretty hard to have their picture taken of their body. I really hate to break it to, you but your 45 minutes on the elliptical and extra 8 cups of water a day ain't gonna get you there in a hurry.

What I'm saying is, actors, models, even singers have a JOB to look the way they do. They get PAID to work out for HOURS at the gym. They have access to people who can do their shopping, make their meals, and work out with some of the best trainers in the world.

Now, listen. There are people I know who have bodies like movie stars. For real! And you know what? They work their trash off for it. They eat turkey and seeds. They pass up doing other fun stuff because the gym is their hobby. Their bodies are beautiful.

But I don't look at their bodies as something that is obtainable FOR ME. Sure, if I put in that much time and energy into it, I could be one of them. But I choose to have other hobbies. Looking at their stomachs to me is like looking at an elaborate quilt. I marvel at the time, energy, patience, discipline that went into it, but I simply have no real interest in quilting like that. I might sew a baby quilt or something but nothing that will take me longer than a day or two.

In the end, this is why I really like Cross Fit. It's full of ripped men and women doing INSANE challenges that require a lot of strength. You don't look at Cross Fit pictures and think: "oh, I can get off of the couch and go do that." It shows men and women working HARD to reach their goals and to look they way they do- and they would probably rip the throat out of any editor who smoothed out their hard earned muscles. I have no desire to Cross Fit, but I respect it.

Further, I also really like this interview of Zac Efron talking to Ellen. Fast forward to 1:40.

Did you hear what she said? "That's ridiculous...This right here must be the only time you're not working out." And did you hear how he responded? "Yeah, I was training with MARINES."

So, if your goal this year was to look like movie stars playing marines, and "fit-spiration" pictures on the internet, that is great. I hope you are enjoying your new found hours at the gym. I sincerely hope you reach your rippling muscle goals. Honest, I do!

To sum it all up, here is my girl Gwyneth Paltrow* saying in 3 sentences what took me this entire post.

If your goal was to be healthy, and you have been exercising and eating healthier and you still don't look like a Victoria Secret model, don't give up. You are doing great! You are trying to take care of your body and I hope you are feeling the results instead of looking in the mirror, searching for your sudden model figure. You are only going to achieve the results you put in the time for. And if you don't have time to look like Brad Pitt from Fight Club, but you DO have the time to go biking with your family this summer- I say that is fabulous.  I hope you find pride in what you are doing instead of disappointment in what media tells you you're not achieving.

*Seriously, why even bother setting goals in the dead of winter? You're just going to get cold and bitter. New Years should have been in June. 

*I really hope it was actually her that said this. I didn't check the source.


  1. First of all, I love that you pointed out that working out is your JOB when you're a celebrity. They're not superhuman people who can do it all, and we can't expect to be the same until we have millions of dollars and a nanny and a personal assistant.

    Second of all, sometimes I see all this body-obsession and think about the resurrection, wondering what we'll look like in our resurrected bodies. I think most of us have a vision of muscular, toned, trim selves, but I wonder if it will be like the ending of Shrek...when Fiona expects to be gorgeous and human, and it turns out that she's got this ogre body for eternity instead. But at that point, it doesn't matter as much what she looks like. I don't know if we'll all still have stretch marks or six packs in the resurrection. But maybe by that time, we'll have an understanding of our relationship with our bodies and our eternal identities that we just can't quite get to in this life, even though I still believe in trying.

  2. How did I miss this post?! It's perfect. fitness pintrest posts bug me, I don't find them motivating, I find them discouraging. One of my favorite things I state in my Beauty presentations is "Thinness DOES NOT = fitness". I am thin(ish) thanks to genes, but that sure doesn't mean I'm healthy.
    Great post. Viva la spring.


I like to hear all of the beautiful things you have to say.