Is eating more healthily and training anti-body positivity?
I was asked about this through the week by a client who was challenged on this point by a friend. It left her wondering if training and eating the way she does (normal diet, watching portion sizes, the occasional treat) was compatible with the body positive movement. The thought being that if you are body positive and love yourself as you are, then why would you eat and train in such a way that would change your shape/ appearance.
It’s a bit of a loaded question, but I did my best to answer.
I said no. And here is why.
If you make a conscious decision to work on yourself to change how you look physically, eat to fuel and nourish yourself (as well as for enjoyment) and improve your physical capacity, and you do it for you and you alone, I cant think of a more (body) positive action. You’re doing it for you, for your own personal reasons, and not to try to live up to a media driven expectation of how you think you should be or look.
A simplified answer to a difficult question perhaps, but that’s my thought process.
The problem comes when you start trying to emulate the images you see on magazines and online, where photoshop is used indiscriminately and even the cover models don’t look like they do in the images. Or you buy into the chat in these magazines (or online) that you should be a certain size or weight. That you should be trying to get a thigh gap (largely down to genetics) or you have to have ripped abs year round.
If you are starving yourself to look a certain way, or exercising purely as a punishment for what you’ve eaten, then that is far from being body positive.
As always, I’m as eloquent as a brick through a window, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic!
Exercising vs training.
What’s the difference I hear you ask?
Exercising is taking part in physical activity for the enjoyment of it and without a specific training goal or outcome in mind.
Training, on the other hand, is following a specific program to apply stresses to the body in order to achieve a defined outcome.
Both are entirely valid.
Exercising can look a lot like training, it’s often less structured and the outcomes are much less guaranteed from a physical adaptations perspective, but you get all the other benefits such as some increases in strength and hypertrophy, some improvements cardio fitness, the mental health benefits that exercise brings and for some, a chance to socialise with likeminded folks who like to get a bit of a sweat on.
Interestingly, many people who start out “just” exercising, training becomes a natural evolution of their time in the gym. They start to see improvements in one area or another, and decide that they want to pursue that goal more aggressively. So training, nutrition and sleep all get a bit more thought and structure, and they start working towards their chosen outcome more rigorously.
Wherever you are on the spectrum of exercise and training, keep going, you’re doing awesome!
The Sunday Session.
Here is a fun little circuit that I’ve had in my own training for the current block.
You have 20 minutes to so as many rounds as you can of:
2 pull ups
5 reverse lunges per side.
You can swap the row for a 1km bike and the pull ups for inverted rows on the TRX if you need to.
Rest as needed, challenge yourself and let me know how many you get!
Have a great day.