Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reflecting on Fitness

What is fitness? FITNESS: The condition of being physically fit and healthy.

Does this mean it is it a way of life? A means to an end? A definition of how you should look, a weight you should be, certain sized clothes you should fit in? Is fitness the same for everyone? Should it be?

I have been struggling with this question for a while now, as I am sure a lot of people have. I have always felt certain pressures and judgments from my family, society, and myself to look, feel and perform a certain way.

Let me explain. My family is thin. Not super skinny, but naturally pretty thin. And we work hard to keep it that way. Growing up my dad witnessed a family member struggle with weight problems and depression as a result so he would constantly focus on instilling "healthy" habits in us with little reminders like: "Are you sure you want to eat that?" or "You're looking a little flabby Shan, did you work out today?".

Though he was full of good intentions, I have felt pressure my whole life to look a certain way, be a certain weight, and wear a certain size. And I have had tough competition from my petite and always fit mother. I was not truly aware of the extent of this pressure until the other day I was talking with my boyfriend. We were sharing what we had done that day and I admitted that I had not worked out and looked at him with guilt all over my face, waiting for him to chastise me. He just looked at me, with utter disbelief, and said, "Why are you ashamed of that? I don't care if you work out every day! One day won't kill you". And it was at that moment that I realized I was unhealthily focused on being healthy.

When had fitness become a way for other people to judge me? When did I start holding myself to other people's standards? Fitness is an individual definition, an individual goal and a unique journey for everyone. Only I can know when I am happy with the way my body performs, how it feels, or the way it looks. I want to be healthy for me, for the energy it gives me, for the way I want to look, and the activities I want to participate in.

Today is day one. The day I want to stop comparing myself to everyone. The day I start having a healthy outlook about being healthy.

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