Why Inspiration Should Beat Thinspiration In A Smackdown

by Bess on May 21, 2010 · 6 comments

I am not exactly what you would call a slave to the scale these days. I’ve gone years at a time without weighing myself and haven’t lost a minute of sleep over it.

However, I consider myself an exception, given that the scale obsession is everywhere we turn.  Turn on the TV and you see the cast of shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “Celebrity Fit Club” at the mercy of the giant blinking numbers that are exposed to millions of viewers.

Flip through a fitness magazine and you’ll notice all the “success stories” focus on weight loss and inches dropped and rarely do you see a model above a size 6 (and, for the record, the average American woman is a size 14).

And don’t get me started on the airbrushing…contrary to what magazines would like you to believe, most females figures do not resemble a straight line with nothing protruding in the front or behind.

What’s next, you will reach for a candy bar at the grocery store aisle only to receive an electric shock and find out you can only “break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar” if you pass a BMI test? Gimme a break!

Or, you’ll be up for your dream job and be forced to come back in a week and compete in a weigh-off to determine whose movin’ on up to the Eastside, to a deluxe apartment in the sky. (Sorry, I love me some classic TV.)

While of course you owe it to yourselves to make decisions that promote your health and nurture your body, this obsession with measuring success by your weight and BMI is really troubling.

I speak from direct experience when I say that losing weight is not the cure all to your problems. When I was my skinniest (let’s just say I fit into kid’s clothes at age 22), I was unhappy, perpetually anxious, physically frail, and lacking in direction.

Personally, I would like to see less “I’m thin, therefore I win!” articles, severe airbrushing, and bikini-clad celebs talking about how they lost their baby weight in mere hours.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great to see victories along the lines of women who have overcome staggering odds (i.e. crippling injury, scary diagnosis)? And also to see articles that focus more on endurance and health?

I know I would find inspiration in reading about women of all shapes and sizes who conquered fitness-related fears and in the process, learned their body is capable of far more than they ever thought.

Also, don’t let that scale-y contraption discourage you from blogging…last time I checked, there were no Internet settings that ban people who don’t blog about weight loss from the health blogosphere.

And on the other side of the coin, if you gain a couple of pounds, your URL will not cease to be valid, nor will you be failing your readers (and if you are, they sound quite vain and fickle to me). In fact, if the Internet had been around when the Bill of Rights was written, I bet our forefathers would have jotted down “freedom to blog” in stately cursive on that yellowed parchment that still rules our justice system.

Losing weight is fine and all and it might feel like a huge accomplishment — and it can be! — but it’s not your only accomplishment. So feel free to inspire people with your other accomplishments. I, for one, would love to hear about them!

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter May 21, 2010 at 2:30 pm

This is such an inspiring post and exactly what I needed to hear right now. One of my favorite accomplishments was when I was a senior in high school. I started pole vaulting junior year and only made it to the JV conference meet. But the next year, when I didn’t have a coach, I went to pole vault camps, sought advice from other coaches and constantly did drills I made it to the state meet and broke our school record three times. I loved knowing that it was my hard work and dedication that made it possible :)
.-= Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter´s last blog ..A Visit to the Volturi =-.

Bess May 21, 2010 at 2:37 pm

What a great story! This captures the spirit of the post perfectly!
.-= Bess´s last blog ..Peek Into Rachel’s Palate =-.

Lisa May 21, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I was obsessed with the scale but then I realized there was more to weighing some “magical” number on the scale…I’d rather be able to run an 8K without stopping, or compete in Reach the Beach (bike 55 miles) like I did last weekend. Those things are more important to me.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..What I’d Do Differently =-.

Meredith May 21, 2010 at 8:12 pm

I am slowly getting over the scale-obsession. I know that I want to lose a few more lbs, but it isn’t as pressing of an issue to me now that I am down to a healthy weight and I love my current lifestyle. I am slowly trying to switch my own mindset and, thus, the direction of my blog to more of “life is awesome” than “life is awesome now that I’ve lost weight”. I mean, I talk about the changes I’ve made and recognize them, but it is about what I’m doing NOW to live a great life and not entirely making up for the mistakes I made in the past. you know?

awesome post, bess!
.-= Meredith´s last blog ..run fail =-.

Jen May 24, 2010 at 5:46 am

It’s a credit to bloggers who feel strongly enough about their weight loss achievements to share their stories with others. However, I agree with you about the need to shake things up a little. After all, health is about (and I’m quoting the dictionary here) “the general condition of the body or mind…”, not solely about how many calories were consumed or today’s number on the scale.

I prefer to read success stories about what good health has enabled us to do with our lives, how our lifestyle affects the people around us, what gets us motivated and inspired, and what keeps us moving and loving life. Blogs and mags that deal with these parts of the process are more inspiring to me than those that focus on how to lose weight or count calories because we all know this is just one part of the health puzzle… and a small change in perspective can sometimes make all the difference.

Bess May 24, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Jen, you hit gold with this remark: “I prefer to read success stories about what good health has enabled us to do with our lives, how our lifestyle affects the people around us, what gets us motivated and inspired, and what keeps us moving and loving life.”
.-= Bess´s last blog ..When Pop Culture And Food Collide =-.

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