Is leaner always better?
The fitness world would make you think so.
Scroll through Instagram on Tuesdays for all the transformation Tuesday photos and you sure would think so.
According to Instagram before and after photos, you can’t be happy with a little extra body fat. You should have 6 pack abs. You should constantly pick yourself apart and hate your “flaws” and strive for the perfect body. You can’t be”fit” unless you don’t have an ounce of bodyfat, right? 6 pack abs are always the ultimate goal. Because leaner is ALWAYS better, right?
Well, I’m here to tell you, NO-sometimes leaner is NOT better.
What do I mean by that? Well, let me first say, there is nothing wrong with physical transformations, or losing weight, or fat loss. Getting leaner for many people is great when it comes as a result of changing your lifestyle from one that was unhealthy to a healthier way of living. I’m ALL for that.
But what about when you’re already healthy, as in you lift weights and do some sort of exercise most days of the week, and you eat your veggies and lean proteins and drink your water and all that good stuff? Is getting leaner always the ultimate goal? Is it ALWAYS a good thing? I don’t think so.
Sometimes leaner is better. Until it’s not.
Leaner is not better when it distorts your body image.
It is not better when it leads to restriction and hours and hours of cardio, or pushing your body to exhaustion every single day.
It is not better when your health suffers as a consequence(as in losing your period, for one thing).
It is not better when it leads to your energy and strength suffering as a result.
It is not better when working out and nutrition consumes your entire life.
It is not better when exercise becomes more of a a chore or a punishment than something enjoyable and fun.
It is not better when it interferes with your relationships or your ability to relax and enjoy life.
It is not better when it makes you fear foods and think you “can’t” eat certain things.
It is not better when your body becomes the only thing that defines you and what brings you your happiness.
Sometimes the best transformations are the ones that are mental, not physical. Sometimes, gaining some body fat is better than getting leaner.
Don’t ever sacrifice your health, mental OR physical, constantly chasing after leanness. No matter what the Instagram fitness models say, you do NOT need 6 pack abs or less body fat or smaller thighs to be beautiful or attractive or fit. Remember, the fitness industry is NOT the health industry.
Health, not leanness, should be the ultimate goal. If you are healthy (meaning you eat mostly healthy foods and exercise consistently), then you don’t always have to be chasing leanness! If you have been, and you’re driving yourself crazy, take a break from it. Change your mindset. Relax a little. Change your priorities. Doing so doesn’t mean that you’re lazy or not dedicated. It doesn’t mean that you’re not fit or strong or healthy. It actually may lead to being stronger and fitter and healthier!
I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with being content and satisfied(even happy, maybe?!?!) with your body as it is RIGHT NOW. Because you know what? Our bodies are amazing. They can do so much for us, and they should be treated with love and respect, not broken down and starved and deprived of what they need to function and thrive. It’s okay to want to improve your body and to be the best that you can be, but not when it’s at the expense of your health or mental well being.
In a society where women are supposed to hate themselves and their bodies unless they fit the “perfect” ideal(whatever that is), be a rebel and be a woman who is confident, a woman who loves her body regardless of what body fat percentage or scale weight she is. We need more women like that.