Inside: Shaming vs. positivity; What is love; Repeating myself with this one but it’s still true
There’s a lot of debate and arguing about fitness vs. body acceptance. False dichotomy, which is the gist of this blog entry. I could point you to blogs about the topic or to commentariat flame wars, but they’re everywhere. You’ve seen them. A friend posted an article about more backlash against Maria Kang, the No Excuse Mom.
You should know that I’m a middle of the road kind of person, which means I annoy everyone. I see multiple sides of an issue. I tend to have trouble with yes/no questions. If you want a long answer from me, ask me a yes/no question.
“Gary, that’s like apples and oranges. You can’t compare apples and oranges, can you?”
“Well. You can’t judge an apple by how citrus-y it is or consider it inferior because it’s not orange enough. Although, I did read that natural oranges in, like, South America are green and orange growers do something to their crop that makes them turn orange. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh right. But yes, you can compares apples and oranges. ‘This sweet, juicy, seedless orange is much better than that bruised, mealy, bland apple with half a worm in it.'”
All of that to say the following:
Somewhere between fitspiration and thinspiration and fatspiration the truth lies.
Kang is being chided again. (This blog entry was instigated by a friend’s FB post.) Some people are offended because — well, for all the reasons it may be offensive to them.
Detractors see a portrait of a gorgeous, sexy, lean woman with three kids saying “No excuses” and interpret that as meaning, “Why don’t you look like me? You could if you put down the chocolate bacon cronut and got off your ass. Ew.”
That’s not what she’s saying. If you read her “About Me” page, you get a sense that she’s a motivated, entrepreneurial type who is not perfect but is passionate about her health.
Don’t get me wrong. “No excuses” is not the most sensitive or politically correct way to say what she’s saying. And there are people, particularly online, who really do think that overweight-ness is an expressions of laziness, weakness, gluttony, and lack of self-respect.
But the majority of trainers, coaches and people who are trying to motivate us to be healthy and fit — the ones who want to promote a healthy lifestyle — aren’t the bad guys.
To be blunt, just because we may feel shame doesn’t mean that someone is shaming us.
EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF
I should add that I realize that a healthy lifestyle/diet means different things to different people, but that’s part of it. We all have to find what is best for us. I’ve had eczema since I was a child. There are certain foods that trigger it and cause flare ups. I’m still not exactly sure what they are. Wheat is one of them, I’m pretty sure about that. I’m allergic to almonds, soy, carrots, apples, some other fruits, cherries, grass pollen, shrimp. Some of them are just oral itching and throat swelling. Some are more intestinal. I once juiced apples and carrots. It was amazing and then it shut down my sinuses. Full blockage for about three hours.
So even some healthy foods that I love aren’t good for me. I assume that if I’m experiencing inflammation in my skin and mouth, there’s some nasty internal inflammation happening, too.
Some people can’t eat foods high in fiber. Some can’t tolerate gluten. Meat, sugar, dairy, whatever. Some populations are epidemiologically prone to diabetes and obesity because of the way their physiology deals with refined sugars. Some people have hormonal and glandular issues.
Like I said, we all have to find what works for us. Some people can eat anything and they’re good to go. Some of us will struggle for decades. That’s life. Some people will be fit as a fiddle and appear to be “overweight”.
It also means that some people, for the sake of their mental health, will take on the issue when and how they can.
I figure we’re responsible for ourselves, especially in a world filled with convenient toxicity. Because we’re the only ones that are going to do it for ourselves. Corporations don’t care as long as they’re making money. The government? Come on. Get serious. Your family? They show their love with baked goods, most likely. Your significant other might be threatened by change and your progress.
So ultimately, it’s up to me to take care of me and you to take care of you. We find allies along the way and have each other’s backs, but you really have to be on the same page. Support via accountability. Community.
LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF
Interesting. Greek words for love: agape, eros, philia, storge.
Triangular theory of love? Combinations of intimacy, passion, and commitment. New to me. Learn something new every day. This is from wikipedia.
So the question is, do you love yourself? What does that mean?
It’s easier to accept the shortcomings of others than it is to accept our own. Maybe we should invert that saying. Treat yourself with the same patience that you would treat a close friend.
Imagine if we could look at ourselves where we are — love handles, scars, jigglings, shortcomings, and all — and say, “I love myself. I love who I am, what I am, and how I am. I’m an awesome me.”
That’s the kind of thing that we might say as a daily affirmation because deep down it’s hard to believe and we have to remind ourselves daily that we’re worthwhile.
I guess it can be a fine line between fitness passion and psychological issues. Eating disorders, dysmorphia, frustration, depression, shame, guilt. Maybe that’s what happens when we can’t accept ourselves or when society/media’s messages overwhelm our own sense of self.
The struggle we experience, with all of the debates and arguments, reveals a dark secret. Our love is conditional. We tend to love “if”. We’re willing to love “when”. I’ll feel good about myself if I don’t mess up. I’ll feel worthy when….
But … love is acceptance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
If we truly love ourselves then we can accept who we are and where we are (on our various journeys and quests, including fitness) and feel a strong need to change, improve, learn, and grow.
That burning drive to be lean and have muscle definition can come from a healthy place. There’s nothing wrong with not being “happy” with being 50 lbs. overweight or 10 lbs. overweight. There’s nothing wrong with wanting and expecting more for and from yourself.
I’m unhappy about my tight, shortened hip flexors and whatever else results in lower back discomfort that hinders my athletic ability. I’m frustrated about still being fifteen+ pounds overweight, which keeps me from doing a respectable amount of pullups, chinups, affects how high and far I can jump, and makes me expend too much freakin’ energy when running.
I believe that we conflate our condition with our identity.
I am not the state of my body. I’m also not my failure to do my fitness homework. I’m not my apparent inability to eat like I should for my goals for more than a few months at a time. We are not our self sabotage.
Despite the fact that I’m not where I want to be, I’m thankful and joyful to have my health and the ability to move, run and play. It’s exciting to know that I can be healthier, fitter, and better at working and playing. It’s amazing to hit a PR.
Yes, it’s hard work, but it’s an affirmation of physical existence and potential (and this is coming from someone who doesn’t experience validation from pain). You know? Life itself is miraculous. Each of us is a one in a few hundred million long shot. Each one of us is a genetic Lotto winning.
These gray hairs — damn them — remind me to hurry up and live a little. Stupid entropy.
That’s why I take issue with people who proudly and loudly reject the idea of fitness. I mean, yes. The fact that there are people who are shamers, whether it’s consciously derogatory or unintentionally hurtful, doesn’t change the reality that striving and struggling for gains (or losses) for our optimal weight and body composition will drastically improve the quality and longevity of our lives.
It’s not everything. But it’s a powerful and empowering thing.
Keep it movin’.