Why I Workout and How the Positive Body-Image Campaign Might Be Bad For Your Health

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There’s been a lot of fat-shaming, skinny-shaming, and all-around-body-shaming going on recently. I saw an article just the other day about a woman who is getting a ton of backlash for posting a picture on Instragram showing off her six-pack abs with her daughter at her side, and a “no excuse” caption. People freaked out, charging her with fat-shaming, demeaning others, and being a poor role model. The irony in their accusations is that in them is a simultaneous skinny- (or perhaps the better word for it is fit-) shaming of this incredibly healthy mother of one. I’ll admit the woman is a little too brash for my tastes, but her priorities are her priorities, and I simply don’t think that her workout-routine is something we should be debasing her for.  (Read this article for her view.)

I try to workout five or six times a week. I don’t have six-pack abs (though I think it’d be nice someday), and there are days when I lack motivation to run or spin or lift weights. But I do it – not to be skinny or to prove a point, not to fat-shame others, but because I believe that my body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and that, as the most incredible gift I’ve been given, I should treat it with respect. We only have one body in this life, and as soon as it breaks down, it is gone. This alone should be a motivating factor to take care of it.

There is a fine balance between self-confidence and being healthy. The huge body image movement in recent years (largely due in part to celebrities like Adele, Meghan Trainor, and now Tess Holliday) is great, but only when body image is tied to living a healthy, active lifestyle. Unfortunately, in positive body image campaigns, I rarely see a connection between the ideals. I fear that we have swung too far on the pendulum from where we used to be, and are now communicating to young girls that being overweight is okay. I’m going to be blunt here: Being overweight is not okay because it is not healthy. I am not saying that there is “perfect weight” we should all be striving for, because there isn’t. Each and every person is going to look different at a healthy weight. The key is health.

Having a healthy body image does not mean simply being okay with your body as is it. There is always room for improvement, and we should constantly be working on becoming better versions of ourself, rather than living in a state of complacency. Sure, you’ll have to devote time to it – but if you can spend two hours watching The Bachelor on Monday nights, I’m pretty sure you could make some time for a bike ride or jog around the park. I believe that a healthy body image does not mean loving the way our bodies look, whether they be fat or skinny or tall or short, but rather appreciating what our bodies are capable of (which is completely regardless of build, height, etc). If your body can do everything it is meant to do, that’s an amazing thing and you should love your body for it. That does not mean, however, that you can stop exercising when you reach that point.

Let me give you a metaphor. I am an artist. I would not be happy with a canvas that I’ve simply splashed with a stroke of color. I work on the canvas a little every day, adding color, depth, detail, so that eventually it will become a painting that I can be proud of. We should think of our bodies in the same terms – we are a canvas that needs to be refined and worked on a little bit every day; if we don’t do the work, the painting will never be finished.

To keep track of my workouts, I made myself a motivational exercise journal to record my daily workout routines. Something that really motivates me to work hard at the gym is planning out my workout before hand and having something physical to look at and cross out while I’m exercising. This makes me feel like I am accomplishing a goal, rather than just going through the motions.

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If you would like to start living a healthier lifestyle but need support or tips, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

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