Feeling Fit or Looking Fit

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“Everything looks good on skinny “, “If I were thinner, life would be better”, these are a couple of things we say to ourselves and often hear from others. More often than not, hitting the gym is about enhancing our looks, either by losing weight or gaining muscle.  Rarely, we come across people who exercise to stay healthy.

While, no matter what the motivation is to hit the gym is, exercise is always beneficial to our bodies, the trouble arises, when we centre our lifestyle on looking fit rather than feeling fit. We feel poorly of our bodies, deprive ourselves the enjoyment of food, and push our limits in the gym and that for what joy?  To earn the acceptance and appreciation from society! At this point we must remind ourselves that looks are transitory, they will fade with age. Now, I’m not advocating a sedentary lifestyle, where Tom, a man who weighs 100 kg is content with his weight, but, I’m talking a Tom, who goes to the gym so that he is able to play football with his buddies.

Let’s say, Tom is unhappy with his weight and wants to look as cool as his Tom Cruise, he hits the gym vigorously because his goals are really high; he changes his diet, cuts down on carbs, fats and starts consuming, protein shake instead of regular food.  He resists all temptation to eat a cheese sandwich, and in case he caves in, he begins to feel terribly guilty. If the six pack doesn’t begin to show soon, he gets frustrated and doesn’t feel bad about his physique. The result is either he either pushes himself harder, till he achieves, what he is out to achieve, or gives up exercising entirely, because, it doesn’t give the results he is expecting.

Now, let’s say, Tom is unhappy with his weight, as it prevents him from living his life to the fullest, all he wants is to play football with his buddies, without feeling exhausted. So he goes to the gym, starts slowly by building his energy, he changes his diet, switches from fast-food to healthy home-cooked food, he doesn’t cut out fat entirely, but allows himself little treats, without feeling guilty, he consciously buys wholesome energy giving food, and ignores all diet fads. As his health improves, he begins to enjoy doing more activities, he enjoys his workouts, he doesn’t judge his workout by the degree his looks changes, he judges it by the way his body feels.

So, which Tom do you think, will achieve more from their workouts over time? The Tom who wants to feel good about his body, or the Tom who wants his body to feel good. Which Tom do you think is likely to enjoy their life more? Which Tom do you want to be as you embark this journey on fitness?

Life is about the journey, not the destination, the same holds for our fitness journeys, we should enjoy every moment of it, feel the pleasure of our muscles stretching, rather than being painfully conscious of how our paunch looks in the gym clothes.

Society’s obsession with a trim body which spreads through fashion magazines, movies and TV, has made our relationship with food.  We do not look for food that nourishes our body but looks for ‘low-fat’ processed foods that are supposed to cut down our weight.

I am not trying to say that we shouldn’t try to look our best, on the contrary, I maintain, one should always try to look their best, but their concept of ‘best’ should not depend on how slim or muscular they can be. Their best should be defined by a healthy weight, high-stamina, fitness to lead an active lifestyle.

Here are things that can be done to change our obsession with thinness and hulking muscles.

Look beyond six-pack and size-zero people as our role models

It would largely help if we could change our role models. Can you imagine what our lifestyles would be Milind Soman was our role model instead of Salman Khan? Milind Soman, who after crossing 50, has won the title of Ironman. Among his many feats, he has run barefoot from Mumbai to Ahmedabad. He is not too conscious of what he eats and doesn’t deny himself of gourmet treats.

We should take a cue from him and his passion for being healthy rather than having a trim waistline.

Feel the bliss of being up and about

Life is more than looks, while we were obsessing over our love handles, a man suffering from spondylitis is simply overjoyed to be able to crane his neck sideways.  We should feel the pleasure of having healthy bodies to pursue any hobby.

Understanding that skinny is not always healthy

Being skinny itself doesn’t guarantee good health. An underweight person is more susceptible to suffer from different health problems as an overweight person, did you know that?

In the nineteenth century, being over-weight was connected with being wealthy. How silly does that sound now?

So should we lead our lives according to the current trends of society or should we decide for ourselves, what works best for bodies, that’s that we need to ponder on before we hit the gym?


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