Being Fit vs. Looking Fit: they’re not always synonymous

Since finding out we were having a girl, it’s been constantly on my mind on how I can help to instill the confidence in her so she goes through life knowing she’s beautiful, strong and worthy of anything and everything she wants. I want her to treat herself and others with respect and know from an early age how precious her body is regardless of how it may look and differ from others.

These thoughts also got me thinking about the culture we live in today where “Being Fit” and “Looking Fit” are often seen as synonymous and interchangeable. It can be discouraging and often damaging for girls (and guys) who’s natural body types are not the deemed “fit looking” prototypes. Between instagram, facebook, snapchat, twitter, blogs, tv, etc. it’s so easy to play the comparison game and look at other women and men who seemingly have the “perfect bodies” and ask yourself, “WHY can’t I look like THAT?!” We’ve all done it and honestly, who can blame us? We’re infiltrated with images day in and day out. It’s hard not to feel insecure at times and wonder what you’re doing “wrong”.

The “skinny is beautiful” mantra is definitely shifting these days and I. AM. HERE. FOR. IT. Plus size models and actresses are now gracing the covers of Sports Illustrated, retail commercials and runways and women are embracing their curves and flaunting them rather than hiding them under layers of clothes. As amazing and revolutionary as all this is, the majority of us still look at women on the street who are “skinny” and automatically think they’re healthy and in shape and look at women who are plus size and think the opposite.

Why are we so conditioned to thinking that outside appearances mirror what’s happening on the inside? And why are we so quick to judge others just by how they look? Skinny and healthy are not necessarily synonymous. Overweight and unhealthy are not necessarily synonymous either.

Repeat. Repeat. REPEAT!!

I took this picture right after we found out we were having a girl, such a special moment + really changed my outlook + priorities in life

Okay, story time….
I’ve always been on the thinner side. In middle school and high school I literally ate whatever I wanted and didn’t think twice about what I was putting in my body. I’ve never been a picky eater so I ate a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains (aka whatever my mom cooked for us!) but I also had my fair share of Honey Buns (remember those from Little Debbie? Those were my CRACK), potato chips, fast food, etc. I also played sports and was active so I never gained or thought about my weight or physical “fitness”. Was I in shape and healthy? I mean, I was a typical teenager with a fast metabolism and active lifestyle. I wouldn’t say I was the epitome of health but I’d say I had a moderate balance between health and junk.

College and the first couple years after was when I really started to play the comparison game. I would constantly be judging myself against others and would critique every inch of my body. I limited what I ate and increased my workout routines drastically by counting calories and running 5+ miles a day. Was I healthy? Absolutely not. I was skinny sure, but was I consuming whole, nutrient dense foods that nourished me? Was I working out because I loved my body and I wanted to make it stronger? No. I wouldn’t touch nuts, avocado, eggs, whole grains, etc because they had “too many” calories and I would only run because I felt like if I didn’t, I would gain weight and be “out of shape”. But to the naked eye on the street, I probably looked like I was the pillar of health!

After I dug myself out of that hole and had a reality check (girl…you can eat a Honey Bun every once in a while! LIVE YOUR LIFE!!) I really started to focus more on eating foods that made me feel good from the inside out and nourished me. I began working out because it felt good for ME to celebrate my body and make it stronger. Even though my outside appearance may not look very different from then to now I know what is going into my body and what I’m putting out is completely different.
My story can be similar to anyone’s you pass on the street. The skinny girl who lives off cheetos and mountain dew, the plus size woman who loves kickboxing and cooking healthy meals, the guy who only goes to the gym because he thinks muscles is what girls like (FYI; funny & genuine > muscles, EVERY. TIME.) So the next time you’re quick to judge someone (or yourself) by their outside appearance, what they order at a restaurant or whether or not they workout…STOP and realize that everyBODY is different and really, the only one you need to be concerned about is your own. Not everyone follows the same path and that’s okay.

I hope my Emory grows up in a world where people celebrate and lift each other up and where bodies are embraced for what they can do, not how they look. I hope she exudes confidence no matter what her body type is because she knows she’s treating it like the asset it is. And I hope she instills confidence in others by letting them know how beautiful and capable their bodies are.

I challenge you all to look in the mirror and give yourself 3 compliments today. They can be about your body, your mind or really anything. Just be honest and allow yourself to be confident with who you are. You should always be your own biggest fan, never forget that and love yourself unconditionally.