I love the summer. I love the smells, being on (and in) the water, and the heat. But for a lot of us, we associate summer with something else, too:
The beach body.
Before we go there (and we are SO going there), I want to begin by posing a question that I want you to think about before reading on:
If you had to define the word "fitness", what would you say? What words come to mind?
Fitness is defined as " The condition of being physically fit and healthy." Synonyms for fitness include: good health, strength, robustness, vigor, athleticism, toughness, physical fitness.
Okie dokie. How'd I get that definition? Easy, I googled it, and the first result was the biological definition of fitness. If this is the case, then pray tell, why do I get words and phrasings like the ones on these magazine covers?
Ironically, "love your body....leaner, happier, fitter"
Boost your testosterone.
Hot body (in half the time).
Gang, how did we get here?
Before I go on, I do want to give a disclaimer regarding the use of the images above. In NO way is this message attempting to body shame ANYONE - six pack or not. I know nothing about the people on these magazine covers, and I am not interested in talking about their appearance other than I want to know where this stark white gym is they all work out in. Or the workout beach they all go to to take these pictures. And also, how do you master a workout in a bikini without a seriously unfortunate wardrobe malfunction?
Point is, fitness at its core doesn't equate to "sexy". It doesn't equate to "musculature". It doesn't equate to "six pack", or any other of the words used above on the covers of these magazines. Fitness in its essence means: "how far and fast can I run from a tiger and jump over a fence to get away from it before keeling over dead?" Last time I checked, I'm pretty sure I didn't need a #hawt body to make that happen. I need an efficient, coordinated, and strong body. An efficient body isn't efficient because societal standards say that it is, it's efficient because the metabolic energy systems within it are built to help me survive and be a baller in general. That's how I was designed- and that had nothing to do with anybody on this Earth, that's for dang certain.
Now, let's make a U-turn back to the pressures associated with achieving a "beach body", which as it turns out is all relative depending on who you're talking to. One person's beach body is another person's "off season" body. One person's "I feel bloated" body is another person's end goal. What does beach body even mean? Does it mean getting healthier and stronger? Does it mean chasing an image that you've been led to believe is the epitome of health and beauty? Sadly for too many, it's the latter, and as a fitness professional who cares deeply about helping my friends find peace with their bodies and minds, it aches to think of all of the conversations I've had with men and women, from 12 years old to 60+, that revolve around the pressures they feel have been placed upon them regarding their bodies. And in the summer, that pressure is insurmountable.
If you are feeling pressure to achieve a certain body image that has nothing to do with the real definition of fitness and instead has more to do with what this world tells you is acceptable, I want you to know something:
People who know me think I have it all together fitness wise. I don't. I have a decade of training in some of the most in depth scientific topics regarding physiology and the true definition of fitness, from the molecular level to how organ systems work together to keep us alive. I, of all people, know very well what is true and based on years of peer reviewed research versus "fitness facts" that are thrown haphazardly all over the internet and other media outlets that usually lead back to something somebody is selling. This makes it harder to admit that yes, even I sometimes get caught in traps that I have to pull myself out of regarding the negativity surrounding body image. Unless you live on an island, it is hard to escape the constant influx of images, videos, and articles that blur the lines of fitness and make it harder for us to navigate all of this with our sanity in tact.
If I feel the negativity from all of this at times, despite my education and experience, I know there's a big chance that you do, too. And I want you to know that one of the main missions of Jolly Bodies is to do everything that we can to combat this by redefining fitness to fit you and YOUR LIFE. You are somebody. There's no one on the planet like you. Roll those eyeballs if you want to, but you know it's technically true. I'm really not in the mood to debate this, but if you want me to explain how genetics and differences in DNA sequences work to make you unique, I can later. Message me.
You. Are. Somebody.
You. Are. NOT. just. some. body.
To anyone who has cried in the changing room alone in target trying on a swimsuit,
If you've covered up your stretch marks on the beach,
To all the 20 somethings trying to balance the stress of being on your own and staying healthy at the same time,
For all the junior highers and high schoolers scrolling through Instagram, feeling like you're not good enough or pretty enough, or for those who have been led to believe that the beauty of person lies in the size of their body or parts of their body,
For all the dads out there who may be feeling some pressure to escape the "dad-bod",
For all the people out there throwing down 5 A.M. workouts like nobody's business, but are distressed that you aren't losing weight,
For anyone that's ever been made to feel like YOUR body, regardless of its appearance, isn't acceptable according to fitness industry's metric of beauty,
You are SOMEBODY.
Somebody with a soul, a brain, a mom, dad, best friend, favorite movie, food, hobby, job, pet, political view, sense of humor.
Everyone deserves to relax on the beach. You should wear that pretty dress if you love it. Skinny jeans are dumb. Your tombstone will not say how much you weighed. Remember that "short", "tall", "small", "big", "bulky", "ripped", "stocky" are all subjective terms, and that internet trolls and people in your life who may have verbally criticized or given you a side eye over your body only do so because they are insecure and scared of their own. Your body is nobody's business but yours.
Finally, once and for all, a beach body is a body on the beach. Period.
Love to you all.