Fitness and Body Image…how do they work together?

Fitness is something I’m really into right now. For me, a good workout is therapeutic and refreshing. There is something about sweating and working toward a goal that is  a little out of my reach that’s  fun and exciting to me. It’s like a mini-challenge every day. When I finish, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Is it about body image or health? How do you keep a balance? These are questions I contemplate in my head.

Let me get a little personal: as a child, I was always small and petite. I  ended up only being  5’3” tall with some curves. To be completely honest, it took me some time to be comfortable with my body. That’s always a work in progress for most of us, I think. I’ve had to learn about clothes, what fits me best, feels the best, etc.   I am learning to embrace myself and be the best me that I can be.

To feel my absolute best, I eat healthy about 85% of the time and do some form of exercise every day. I am a dancer and play tennis so I get exercise with my hobbies and school activities alone. However, I also have a newfound love for lifting weights and doing intense cardio training a few times a week. I LOVE turning up my music and driving to the gym and the feeling that I have afterward. Some days, I’ll go on long walks or a run (if I’m feeling crazy or going with a friend)!! Running is not my favorite, but it’s good to throw in occasionally  to push myself. I also work with a trainer who pushes me and encourages me to try things I never thought I could do.

So back to my original question…is it about body image or health? It’s about both!! I work out because it helps me feel capable and stronger and leaner. It helps me set small goals and attain them.  At the same time, I know that it is good for my health. The key to all of it, in my humble opinion, is balance. When I am working out or planning my food for the week, I never picture another person or their body. In other words, I don’t think about “Susie” and her awesome body and have any misconceptions that I will ever look like her. Instead, I picture myself at my best and that is what motivates me. You will never get better or be satisfied unless you only focus on your own results . Another person may eat Cheetos 17 times a week and have a 6-pack. That’s awesome! That will not happen for me! So stay focused on yourself and picture yourself at your best and you will get there. One of my favorite things about the fitness industry is that you will see all kinds of body types pushing themselves and being in top performance shape. It looks different for everyone.

I do have a tip that I want to share. It’s not rocket science or genius, but it took me a bit to figure it out so I want to share. For almost a year, I tried to drastically cut carbs and focus on protein and non-starchy vegetables. Nothing happened. I wasn’t trying to lose much weight at all, but I was trying to lean up a little. It finally occurred to me through reading articles and blogs, (and my mom’s advice) that I was so active my body was probably craving carbs. I introduced a small amount of what I call healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice) back into my diet. I feel better than ever, and I’m finally noticing some results. The most important thing is to stay healthy in mind and body and figure out exactly what works for you, because again, we are all so different!

Fashion fitness tip:  If you’ve followed me at all, then you have noticed shout outs to an active wear company called Lorna Jane Active Living. I stumbled upon that company on a trip to Dallas. They have sports bras that give tons of support for girls that need it. The coverage is good, too. I also like other brands like Lulu Lemon, UA, and even some brands that I find at Target. The key is to make sure they fit and give support. Sometimes I think we overlook support in favor of being cute, but both are possible! I’m leaving a link so you can check it out!

Lorna Jane

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