Some of the most un-fit people I have ever met in my life are figure, bikini, bodybuilding, and physique athletes. Some of the most miserable people you will ever meet have the best six packs you have ever seen. One thing I have come to discover in my short time in the fitness industry is that the outside appearance of an individual sure as hell does not equate to happiness – or even fitness. What defines “fitness” anyways?
Before I ever did a competition, stepped on stage, or was stage lean, I looked at figure athletes as the epitome of “fitness”. Shredded abs, lean legs, lean faces (yes, lean facial features is something I used to envy strangely) – it all looked like the perfect fitness package from the outside. Once I entered the realm of competing, I realized that I had it all wrong.
Fitness is what YOU make it. It is more than just your physical appearance and leanness. A stage look should be a short term state. In previous years, I thought that I would finally be thought of as “fit” by others once I looked like the girls in the magazines or the women shredded on stage. However, fitness is not just how you transform your outside appearance. Fitness goes beyond the surface.
Fit·ness : “the condition of being physically fit and healthy”. According to my google search…
If you have never been on stage or been to a level of stage leanness, then you may still have the perspective that individuals on stage in bikinis with tan physiques are the epitome of health. I can tell you from experience that single digit levels of body fat are by no means the healthiest state, especially for a woman, for an extended period of time.
“Good health”, “vigor”, “strength” – all synonyms associated with the word “fitness”. At my lowest body fat and leanest physique, all three of these were at pretty low levels. I think that one’s fitness should be evaluated at a level deeper than the surface.
Life can easily start to revolve around macros, dieting, cardio, and weights. Family and friends come as an after-thought. Following my show last year, I wanted more. I wanted my fitness to be something more than just how I looked and how well I did on stage. I knew that my “fitness” had to detach from my goal of being shredded all year round. I knew that being fit could be something other than just being lean. It is vitality, living your life – not letting a disordered way of looking at yourself take over.
Weight lifting and nutrition are still a significant part of my life and how I make my living. However, the first conversation I have with someone should not be “what are your macros?” haha – silly to some, but a significant indicator of where my mind was at.
Fitness should be the fitness of your life. Fitness should be feeling good in your skin, achieving your athletic goals, being healthy enough to be there for your family, participate in a local 5k… Maybe finally having glowing skin after years of severe dieting. Athleticism can be cardiovascular fitness, strength, or whatever you desire to achieve. Fitness should also be the fitness of your MIND. The mind is the most powerful weapon we have. If your mind is at a compromised state for an extended period of time, then it is time to reevaluate and look at the bigger picture. Chasing meet after meet or show after show only brings short term satisfaction. I want my “fitness” to last longer than that. What does being fit mean to you?
Photo credit: 9 for 9 media