Driving into work today I saw an advertisement for a personal trainer. The tag line said “strong is the new skinny.” As soon as I read it, my blood started to boil. As a therapist working in eating disorder recovery work, I couldn’t imagine a more wrong statement to be making.
We’ve taken exercise…something that should be about enjoyment, fun, caring for our bodies and placed another level of expectation and pressure on it.
So let’s think about what exercise is and is not. It is NOT about the “should’s”—I should go longer, I should be better, I should be faster, I should look stronger. What is it about then? It IS about enjoyment, health, connection, and caring for your body.
There is a critical danger in placing all of these expectations on to something that is supposed to be about caring for our own body. We’ve created a culture of perfectionism around exercise. It’s not enough to workout in a balanced way, we instead fall into traps of feeling that we should push more, do more, be more. Strong does not mean that you have to look toned and perfect, strong does not mean that you push your body beyond its limits. You can be strong and imperfect, you can be strong and take breaks.
So instead of perfect exercise, let’s keep these questions in mind when approaching our next workout:
– Is this caring for my body?
– Is this what my body needs right now?
– Does my body need rest?
– How am I honoring my body?
Your body and your mind will thank you for the respect you’re showing it.