Fitspo and thinspo are all the rage nowadays. In case you’re not sure what fitspo and thinspo are take a minute to wander over to Pinterest and search for them, go ahead, I’ll wait.
Did you see gazillions of pins of half-naked super-skinny chicks? The thinspo search even comes with an anorexia warning, jeez. When you look at these images (complete with quotes like “Make yourself proud” and “Be stronger than your strongest excuse”) do you think “Hmm, that thigh gap looks completely doable?” Or are you like me and think, “Oh my God, I hope no teenage girls think this is healthy?”
The fact of the matter is that not all fitspo/thinspo is unhealthy, there are a lot of fit, healthy bodies out there, but we have to be able to separate the realistic from the absurd, and that’s where I step in. I’ve taken on some of the most common body image goals and done the research to determine what you can work for and what you should ignore.
Thigh gap: Ah thigh gap, the phrase that launched a thousand Pinterest boards. Apparently, thigh gap is what you get when you stand with your feet together and there’s a one- to two-inch space between your thighs. Hey guess what, I don’t have a thigh gap, and I am 100% OK with it. As a matter of fact, my thigh gap-less legs are my favorite feature. In my humble opinion, thigh gap is just this generation’s heroin chic. It has more to do with being emaciated than being fit. If you are a grown woman with thigh gap aspirations, you need your head examined. Legs are not supposed to look like twigs! Your legs need muscle, they carry you around all day long, so instead of wishing you had bony legs, why don’t you work to have strong, shapely legs? Instead of working on a thigh gap work on your quads and hamstrings.
Visible ab lines. To have visible ab lines women generally need to have a maximum body fat percentage of 14% (for men it’s 8%). This is totally doable, (Have you seen Skinny Mom herself Brooke’s abs?) but it’s not going to be easy. There’s a saying “abs are made in the kitchen” for a reason. You can do crunches and hanging leg raises till the cows come home, but if you’re eating junk your middle is going to look like junk. Unless of course you’re one of those genetically blessed freaks who can eat whatever they want and still have visible abs through a sweater… I kind of hate you, no offense.
Lengthen your muscles. For whatever reason Pilates seems to be associated with lengthening your muscles. Let me tell you right now that nothing will lengthen your muscles. Your muscles are attached to your bones and only can grow in diameter, sorry. That being said Pilates is an awesome workout and can definitely aid in changing your body. It’s just not going to make your muscles any longer because it’s physically impossible.
Cut arms. The media loves to make a big deal about a woman with buff arms. Madonna, Michelle Obama, and Linda Hamilton among others have received both negative and positive attention for their guns. Most women would probably agree that defined arms are pretty enviable, and maybe we can’t all have Madonna level pythons going on, but we can all get a little more definition. To see a change in your arms you’re going to need to do more than curls once a week with five-pound dumbbells. You need to constantly break down and repair the muscles in your arms and then letting the muscles repair on your rest days. The good news is that for most of us the upper body tones up pretty quickly, so by cleaning up your diet and working your arms you could see some more definition in about a month.
Concave stomach. Whereas getting a six pack is all about reducing body fat, getting a concave stomach is, well I don’t know what it’s all about. Flat stomach I get, concave stomach, no thanks. I’m not a doctor, but in my unprofessional opinion a concave stomach is something you should never strive for. Hungry people who don’t have enough to eat have concave stomachs, healthy people generally do not.
Being a certain size or weight. Who remembers the movie Batman? The one with Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, and Kim Basinger? I was a very impressionable kid who though the character of Vickie Vale was the coolest thing ever and since she told Batman she weighed 108 pounds, I thought that’s what I should weigh when I grew up. Imagine my surprise when I left 108 in the dust way before I was a grownup. I’m not embarrassed to tell you I weigh nowhere near 108, to get even close I would have to cut one of my legs off, which I really don’t want to do. But I’m strong, fit, and like the way I look, and that matters more than some stupid number.
Verdict: Who cares, a number on a scale or the number on the inside of clothes doesn’t matter.
No matter what your goals are, we can all use a little help loving the body we’re in today! To read more, check out 4 Ways to Improve Your Self-Image!