What happens when you Google the word “fitness”? You’re most likely going to see some ripped influencers who look nothing like you and who you can’t relate to at all (the image to the left is one example). This can be exceptionally daunting and can lead many of us to feel helpless and excluded — I know I’ve been there.
Why don’t we have a fitness and health market that is inclusive? That is the age-old question that many people ask themselves. We all know that seeing unrealistic body types all over our social feeds is hurting our mental health — but there’s not much that we can do about it. It is so omnipresent that it is becoming solidified into our society and culture. We need to reverse this trend as it is becoming super destructive and harmful to our well-being.
The fact of the matter is that everyone’s body is different in so many ways and so we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to people we see online. Instagram and Tumblr have glorified the “look” of fitness, but not the real benefit: the health aspects. In other words, the goal of fitness has become to look good on the outside and not necessarily on the inside. Why is this? Well, to pass the message of fitness through images, extremes will be chosen because a person who is healthy on the inside may not look like anything special. But being “ripped” is not what our body needs to be healthy or happy. Not to mention achieving this extreme body type requires a huge time commitment that the average working person cannot afford.
Focus on yourself and your goals and achievements, whether physical or mental. I know this isn’t an easy feat especially with social media at the tip of our fingers, but it is possible. When you catch yourself scrolling through your Instagram discover feed, listen to what that little voice in your head is saying. Is it saying “I need to have abs like her”, “why don’t I look like that”, or “he must be the happiest person”? Catch your mental comments and reframe them. Everyone has insecurities and flaws, but lingering on them doesn’t help. Everyone is at different moments in their adventure and journey.
Our personal progress and growth should not be measured by what we see in the mirror. It should be measured by how we feel and the small but meaningful improvements we make to our lifestyle. Did you complete 10 more squats this week than last week? That is something to applaud. Were you successful at taking a break to move each hour for 8 hours straight one day? This should be celebrated. Small movements can have the power to change your entire well-being. Join a community of individuals who will cheer you on every step of your health journey so that you can focus on the experience, not the destination (if there even is one).