Strong is the new skinny”, they say. Access any Instagram account related to fitness or open a health and fitness magazine and you are most likely going to find a picture with a muscly man/woman who has a low body fat percentage, supposed to function as motivation.
We no longer crave being the stick-thin model on the catwalk, we want muscles, we want to be strong, we want to eat the right food and exercise enough. That should, in theory, not be a problem. Building muscles and eating healthy is good for us, right? And it is, but what happens when we are constantly exposed to ripped fitness models – who in reality dedicate a tad more time to their bodies than the average “these ab-exercises will get you a six-pack” article the pictures usually are accompanied with? Some would argue that overly focusing on eating right and exercising enough is not any healthier than wanting to be as thin as possible. Like with anything else, overly obsessing over something can cause a problem, and this is where we need to find the right balance.
World Natural Figure Champion, fitness model and editor of Oxygen Magazine, Lindy Olsen, thinks that women should be encouraged to be fit and healthy rather than feel defeated by those who consciously chose to push their own potential and get out of their comfort zones to reach their own ultimate levels of health, wellness and condition.
“Fitness models make a conscious choice to be as fit and as healthy as they possibly can be and if that intimidates people to feel less adequate than others then I’d encourage women everywhere to embrace their inner beauty and be the best versions of themselves that they can be”, Lindy says.
She also says that the secret to staying lean, fit and healthy all year round is to eat all foods in moderation and not to cut entire food groups out of the diet. “I certainly have my cake and eat it too”.
Education is key. Lindy was once 89kg and felt tired, lethargic and pretty average, but gaining knowledge about good nutrition, exercise and how to healthily combine it all has changed that in such a huge way for her and her passion is evident when she talks about how anyone can get into great shape with the right information, support and mindset.
” If someone like me can learn about health and nutrition and learn to not “miss out” on the foods that all of us love it’s just a matter of re-educating people so that they truly understand that food should not be classified as bad or good, simply eat more of this and less of that”, she says.
Luke Tan (yes, the vegan body builder) ,explains that the change of lifestyle leads to a healthier diet, a stronger body and better mental and physical health, but emphasizes that people should be doing it for themselves, and not for others.
Competing in fitness is certainly a challenge and requires both discipline and willpower, and even though fitness models are being used as motivation, it is not necessarily said that we should all strive to look like that, but simply let ourselves inspire and change into better versions of ourselves.
They both agree that we should not be comparing ourselves to others, rather strive for becoming comfortable in our own skin. And they emphasize that if we manage to become fitter than we once were, then instead of receiving negative comments and critique, we should be shown encouragement and support.
So how about we say that happy and comfortable is the new healthy, and stop comparing ourselves to the images we are constantly presented with so that we can start comparing the old us to the new us?