It’s safe to say that almost each one of us has once fantasized about having an “ideal” body: build, type, weight, size, shape… etc. Some might say that “we can never be happy with what we’ve got.” At CrossFit Des Plaines, we want to shift that mindset. “Bikini season ready” or definitive abs are great, but does it serve as a metric for health? Not necessarily.
Precision Nutrition has a great infographic and article on “The cost of getting lean”. I wish this information was available to me ten years back. There is a huge misconception about what the media and our society portray as desirable, or “healthy”. Often times, these images can also lead us to believe quite unhealthy thoughts about our own body image.
Here are a few things I’ve heard from a handful of clients, friends, and family that I’d like to address. You may have once thought these things or heard someone else say it, and it may sound silly, but they are real, valid “hopes” for changes to their bodies. We hope to bring awareness about these “ideals” which are not always so ideal or typical after all.
1. “I want six-pack abs.” There’s not necessarily a way we can fabricate our body parts to look a certain way. Our genetic makeup is a major contributor to the build of your body; this is out of our control. Something that we can take part in is measuring and monitoring our body fat percentage. This is the amount of mass in your body that is made up of fat mass. Knowing our body fat percentage can help us gauge how our body composition may appear. People with a lower body fat percentage are more likely to have their “six pack” show in the abdomen area, whereas a person of average body fat percentage or higher body fat percentage, may consider decreasing body fat through a careful and consistent nutrition plan in order to achieve the goal of having a six pack.  For 5 quick tips on achieving a “leaner you”, check out this infographic by Positive Health Wellness.
2. “I want to lose the ‘flab’ here *points to area*” This has a similar misconception as the first point mentioned above. Again, the infographic from Precision Nutrition on “The cost of getting lean” is very informative and helpful for navigating around these misconceptions.
3. “I’m too ________ (big, small, old, out of shape..) for this kind of workout.”Challenge yourself to break out of that mindset or label! Unlike some sports like wrestling or weightlifting, there are not necessarily weight classes or (for the most part) age divisions (with the exception of teens and masters athletes in competitive CrossFit) in this sport. Just by showing up to class, working on your goals, you are already breaking that barrier of being too _____________. You are more capable than you allow yourself to be: that’s why you keep coming back to the box!
4. “I’ve always been _______________.” That doesn’t mean you will forever be _____. Your coaches are here to help you be more mobile, to help you increase strength and speed or to help you monitor body composition. Carol Dwek has a great TED Talk on “The power of believing you can improve”. Believe it–practice it–live it.
5. “It’s just so hard/expensive to live a healthy lifestyle.” Invest in your health. The slightly higher price tag on healthier food options, a box membership, a nutrition coach or new Met-cons will be a much greater long-term investment for your health and your future. Can you imagine the bills of a person who becomes seriously ill? You have the choices to make regarding your health now, and you have resources within your reach to help you “grow” your investment; take advantage of them. It’s worth it.
The next time you find yourself entrapped within the “ideals” of society, the media, or anybody else’s, just remember that you have nobody else’s expectations to meet but your own. What do you expect from yourself? Your body and its health? Your future? Visualize it, make a plan, practice, learn, ask, and make it happen–don’t get lost in the “ideals” of everyone else. Shift your mindset and you’ll find that you may be much happier.