The Problem with "Strong Not Skinny"

So, we all know that the wave of the past 2 years in the fitness industry has been more towards being strong versus being skinny and how you need to eat more, lift heavy weights, and then you'll get the body of a rocking fitness model right? That's the social media image portrayed, which we all know is a false reality but I did want to touch on a few things to do with this. 

First and foremost, I love this article that I saw about our transition into "body acceptance" and how this creates an attitude towards complacency and not trying at all and that having goals and such is not a bad thing...at all. So, maybe read that next as I know it's semi long. 

I also would like to say that I am TOTALLY guilty of creating the illusion that I'm going to talk about in this blog. I post pictures of my body and I preach balanced intake while lifting weights to obtain a certain look. It's what we all do right? One of my coaches, Alex Viada, always makes a great point and I TOTALLY agree with this. Just because you eat within a certain calorie amount that helps you to stay in shape and reach your goals does NOT mean that you loathe your body or that you have an unhealthy relationship with food...at all. AT.ALL. It's OKAY and every single athlete has some sort of caloric window that they eat within for the most part that's obviously dictated by hunger cues as well. I feel all sides have to be addressed, because I feel this is a window that I fall in however, this is not the case for so so many women and men.

Not only have ideas of perfection been put on our magazines, they are now on our phones every single day. Not only do we have these ideas of what the "perfect body" looks like and be able to separate and say "Okay those are models. I'll never look like that. Moving on" to now "Well, she went to high school with me and SHE looks like that." I went to a Young Life club event on Monday night, and the girls were so cute saying that they followed me. One thought stuck out to me though. They were joking and saying "Wow, we saw this girl was BUFF and we all said we better get to running and start eating better." Knife to my heart and reality check to be honest. 

It's not that I don't want people to be inspired, and believe me, I know they were joking, but I never want young girls to look at my instagram and think "Oh gosh I better do this so I can look like her" and I'd rather it be about just what your body is capable of and NOTHING to do with what it looks like. When someone takes a first glance at my instagram, they aren't going to delve into what I'm about. They aren't going to read posts or blog posts for that matter to see my passion. It's a face value, first impression type view. That's the way that we work. We see images, and we double click if those appeal to us. 

I do think that in the beginning, there were (and still is) pure motives behind the "strong not skinny" movement in that we want to focus on performance and not body image. However, it didn't stay that way. Instead of strong not skinny, it's STRONG AND SKINNY that's actually portrayed. So, now not only is the image of beauty skinny but she also needs to be buff with perfectly sculpted abs and glutes. Again, please hear me that I understand that this is what my page itself embodies, and I'm not saying that anyone even has ill intentions when posting their perfectly sculpted bodies. 

There are "fit famous" people because of the lives that they have structured and the habits that they have created out of day in and day out "grind". They eat very balanced, and they keep up a regular workout schedule. It's their hobby, and many of them especially those that do get fit famous, it becomes their jobs and their lives. This is not real life. Most of the time if your hobby is not working out and eating well, then your hobby might be playing a guitar. No one ever feels pressure when they see someone that is playing an amazing song on the guitar that they themselves need to learn to play the guitar just as good as that person. If you have a hobby, you spend LOADS of time on it, perfecting it. For many on the "gram", they spend loads and loads of time on their bodies or in their sport which in turn changes their bodies. That doesn't mean that they are disordered, but that also doesn't mean that you are going to look like that if it's not your hobby. 

However, this may be your hobby and you may spend lots of time and energy and money into creating what you are seeing in these girls. You love it just as much as them, and you are taking all the steps to get there, and your body looks NOTHING like theirs. Where does that leave you? Many times these very girls will post things like "I hold fat here and here and here but I've OVERCOME!" while you are sitting there thinking "I would kill to have her body and I'd also like to kill her for saying that" We all have a version of what we think we are supposed to look like and until you deal with those issues internally, you can see that even these girls are still dealing with the SAME ISSUES. If they are discussing the "fat" they are holding in certain areas, that means that they are seeing it. If it's in their head, then it exists to them, even if it doesn't to anyone else. 

And that's the important part....the way that you see yourself. You can strive day in and out and you may not look like these girls and guys and that's okay. I looked at a picture of myself from before I started lifting and thought "oh lawd" and Tanner will make comments about how "small he is for a guy that lifts so much and has for years" but the truth is 1- I looked JUST fine before I started lifting and I've just grown so accustomed to seeing all these sculpted bodies that I have grown to think that's normal and 2- Tanner is 100% natural. He's 99% bigger than most of the guys in our lives but because of the images that he has seen on instagram of guys that aren't natural, and guys that may be natural but have been doing it longer, and he thinks of himself as small. I hate having to beat this dead horse, but I feel I have to reiterate that this doesn't mean that we are disordered body dysmorphia or something. We don't obsess about these things, but it's just the fact that even we have been influenced by these images that we try so hard to not be influenced by. Many men and women aren't able to look outside of the box, and it does become an obsession. It becomes a constant degrading of self. It becomes self loathing when their hobby is not one that involves fitness and health or even more when it is their hobby and they aren't able to obtain this coveted lokk.

I've slowly been changing over time and felt over and over again that I had to keep posting things for "business reasons" that honestly weren't even true to myself. I want someone to look at my page and say "Man, I would love to be an athlete and see what my body can DO" and having goals in that is a beautiful thing. If you want to change and sculpt your body and that's your hobby then by all means, that's seriously totally fine, but I just think there is a line that you have to really check yourself on and make sure that this isn't an idol or an obsession because then it's got to go. 

So, all of that to say, have goals and go after them with all of your heart. Do NOT be complacent, but also do NOT think that you have to look like these girls that are now skinny AND strong, and even if you are skinny that's okay too. I want people to do the steps for better health, change their lifestyle, pick a sport they love, but quit all the constant self degrading and loathing. It seriously is a waste of head space, and there are FAR MORE WONDERFUL things in this world to focus on. Go plan a trip or something haha! 


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