rant post was written by Max Shippee.
“I just want to have smaller thighs/have them not touch in the middle/more firm arms/to see my abs/this little bit gone.”
“Oh, how long have you wanted that?”
“My whole life. I want to look like Giselle! You know her?”
“Oh yeah, sure, we used to date.”
This might come off as a rant, but you need to hear it.
Look. We all have body issues. Every one of us. If you grew up in a Western culture, or any culture that has television or magazines, you’ve got something about your body that you’d like to be different. Some of that is healthy. If we didn’t want to make changes, we wouldn’t be here on this blog, changing what we put into our faces, and all the gyms in the country would be empty. It’s good that we want to make change, or we would literally all still be living like “cave people”.
But there comes a point where your goals become something not so positive. Perhaps unrealistic, or even unhealthy. Some of you may even be scared of what your body may turn into.
Your body doesn’t suddenly “turn into” something overnight. Went to your friend’s birthday last night? Had some cake? Did you wake up on “The Biggest Loser”? No, you didn’t. Just like doing those heavy squats aren’t going to turn you into Conan the Barbarian overnight. It just doesn’t work that way.
I know, I know. Every movie has a montage, every show has one too. The people are working hard for an entire 20 minutes, and then “the reveal”!!! They look amazing!! Yeah. It doesn’t actually happen that way. Follow some fitness models/body builders on Tumblr or Facebook. You know what you’ll find out? They have every meal and workout planned out at LEAST 90 days out from any competition they are in. And they are already walking around with bodies that we’re all posting on Pinterest. That’s what they do.
Do you really think that Madonna does Pilates 3 times a week to look like that? Do you think that Tom Cruise, rockin’ 50 years, just does a couple quick sets of abs when he wakes up, then stops by for a slurpee at the 7-11 on the way to set? NO. They don’t. Also, do you really think that your pole dancing teacher only does one class a week for the body that she has? No, she’s there all the time. Gwenyth Paltrow, you know, the tall blonde one? Regarding her fitness as a mom and 40, “It’s not an accident. It’s not luck, it’s not fairy dust, it’s not good genes. It’s killing myself … five days a week, but what I get out of it is relative to what I put into it.”
Bodies like these don’t just happen. They don’t. Not for the vast, vast majority of us. It takes work. A LOT of work. YEARS of work.
This is part of the reason that I get all perturbed when people come into the gym saying they want to change this or that, but they don’t want to get too bulky/big, or look like that girl over there. Do you know how long that takes? Do you know that they are a completely different body type? Do you know how hard Serena Williams works? (She’s gorgeous, by the way.) She didn’t just wake up one morning and think, “I’ve heard tennis is fun!”
You’re not accidentally going to become a gymnast, ballerina, or powerlifter. That means that you’re not going to wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and think, “Whoa, my shoulders are big/my extension is perfect/I look like a man.” That stuff takes all kinds of work. A LOT OF WORK. You’re going to know waaaay ahead of time if you don’t like the results you’re getting.
And here’s what I have to say about it “just being good genes.” Have you ever noticed how the ladies that are Russian gymnasts at the Olympics look different than Team USA? There’s a reason for that. In Russia, they pick them based on their genetic potential at an early age. They have tryouts, at around the age of 6, and if the body type is not there already, they pretty much say, “Sorry, next.” That’s why all the Russians are long and more lean looking.
Team USA is much more of a mix. The girls all have differing body types, and, not surprisingly, they kind of all have their specialty where their genetics are used to the best of their ability. The more power athletes rock on the tumbling. The longer ones have a natural gift at the balance beam. I’m not saying that you can’t be an awesome tumbler and be long – not at all. I’m just saying your genetics predispose you to make certain activities “easier”. The Russians choose their team by genetics and hard, hard work. Team USA chooses their team more from even more hard work. Either way, these athletes take years – YEARS – to get their bodies where they are for competition.
You’re not going to become Michael Phelps overnight, or by doing an hour on the elliptical 3 days a week. You’re just not. Anyone you’ve seen on the cover of a fitness magazine is spending at LEAST 3 hours a day sweating in some way or another. And these cats weigh & measure their food, have nutritionists on staff, and trust me…they only look like that for the competition/photoshoot. Catch them “off season” and you’re gonna see a different person, still a fit person, but not the same as on that magazine cover.
Stop being so afraid of your body. It’s there as a tool for you.
For another, more aggressive take on the topic….peep over here to 70’s Big. Or head over here for an awesome post from Stumptuous. WARNING – These links are borderline NSFW; if you’re easily offended, don’t click. You’ve been warned.
rant post was written by Max Shippee.