Body beautiful

Posted on October 3, 2012

7


A week ago today, I was in the Blue Mountains with my partner in crime, HK Adventure Baby, and amongst our many discussions covering everything from work and play, boys and toys to hopes and dreams, we discussed negative body image and the constant mental battles that girls can face. We talked about how ultimately the cure for such internal conflict boils down to a fundamental shift in mindset.

You see, we’ve all been guilty in the past of joining a gym or dragging ourselves to fitness classes just to be skinny / fit into a single digit size / squeeze into that LBD.

But when you become a sports competitor or participant, an athlete rather than just a fitness fanatic or gym bunny, you care far more about performance and far less about being super slim. And you care far more about fuelling your body with the best nutrition possible and far less about worrying about indulging in on too many egg whites. You learn to value yourself based on your achievements rather than your dress size and develop a genuine respect for your body and how it works.

This led me to think about how our bodies operate full stop … the general principles that determine our form and function, performance and physique.

  • Our situation, personality, needs, goals and age dictate how we look, feel and function. The older you are, the more concerned you are about feel and function. When young, it’s just all about how you look …
  • Different people train better at different times of the day. There’s no universal right or wrong and there’s no set rule about this. You might even find that you’re better doing cardio in the mornings and weights in the evenings, or vice versa. Listen to your body; it will tell you
  • Listen to scientific guidelines and recommendations only to a point. Different things work for different people and this year’s science might well be next year’s disproven theory. Much of what was considered ‘fact’ in the 80’s and 90’s is now considered nothing but fiction now. Fact!
  • Every body responds to the various exercise stimuli in their own unique way, which is why your ideal exercise program might leave me injured, exhausted and over-trained. If you do nothing else, really try to listen to your body … become acutely aware of all it tells you
  • The state of our bodies today isn’t only down to exercise and training. It’s down to diet and lifestyle, supplements and genetics, our age and backgrounds, medical issues and habits, both good and bad.  So if you want to change something about yourself, you need to take a multi-dimensional approach to cover all bases
  • For this reason, generic programmes and group training shoudn’t be confused with individual training regimes. Put twenty people in a room for the same class and all will have a difference experience and different results. Why? Because they’re all living in different bodies
  • A sleep-deprived body will never perform
  • Nor will a dehydrated body
  • A great exercise programme combined with a poor diet will produce poor results
  • A great attitude coupled with a poor programme will produce poor results
  • There is no universal best programme but there is your best programme
  • Your body is in a constant state of change … degeneration and regeneration. All the body’s systems are dynamic which means that, so too are your body’s needs. What ‘worked’ for you at 25 in terms of diet, training and lifestyle will change significantly when you’re 35 and beyond. By paying attention to what your body is saying, you can make conscious, appropriate and intelligent decisions in order to maximise your ever-changing physiology. Your body is an amazing biofeedback machine that is constantly sending you messages. Listen!
  • ‘Fitness’ is not about how far a person can run, swim or cycle. Fitness refers to your individual ability to perform certain physical tasks. A ballerina might be fit to dance but not to get in the boxing ring. A bodybuilder might be fit to lift but unfit to run a marathon. A long distance runner might be fit for running but not for doing chin-ups.

Our bodies are such incredible vehicles … the Ferraris of the car world … so keep in mind the points above and learn to respect and love the body you’re in and how it works.  Don’t even think about trying to drive your Ferrari on fuel that lacks the quality or quantity it needs to operate at its optimum … to make it purr! I think back to the London Olympics during the Summer and the amazing athletes that took part … they are all inspirational role models at the top of their game. They are super strong, super svelte and super sexy.  But they’re not super skinny. These are the physiques that we should aspire to have ourselves.

I know I’m far ‘fatter’ than I was a few years ago but hey, I’m strong, fit and healthy and in my eyes now, that makes me just perfect regardless of an extra love handle or two. On top of that, feeling like a powerhouse leaks into every area of your life and makes you feel ready to tackle any challenge thrown at you, physical or otherwise …

… besides, you’ll never get very far as a long distance runner if you’re not fabulous at chowing down at every given opportunity. Every ultra runner knows that a long race is just a giant eating fest with a little running in between!

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