My friend Desiree convinced me to join her in Zumba class last week. I figured why not? It’s been awhile and I missed cha-cha-ing and mambo-stepping. We had 30 minutes before our class started, so we decided to walk on the treadmill. Our treadmill time entails a lot of conversation. Desiree is a hoot and a half I tell you. Interesting topics are never lacking with this lady. As we walked, Des asked me if I was getting my bikini bridge ready, upon which I replied, “what the heck is a bikini bridge?” Des described this new body-trending selfie shot that has been seen all over the news and Twitter, as “when your hip bones jut out, making this space (the bridge) between the bikini bottom and super flat stomach.” That Desi, always so informed on things that are trending. This is because she has a fifteen year old daughter in high school who keeps her abreast of all the current happenings. Desi and I laughed that before we take selfies, our main priority is making sure our chin hair is plucked, but I digress.
The Bikini Bridge:
We continued to talk about all these silly, unrealistic trends that further affect young women, their body image and self-esteem. Remember the thigh gap nonsense? Apparently, now you can’t just be skinny, you’ve got to have bridges and gaps on your body. Desiree commended her daughter, Sofia, saying that she really wasn’t into constant selfies with those duck-faced lips and peace-signed fingers. She went on to say that so far, Sofia has a pretty good self-image, and has no desire to be a walking skeleton with pouty lips.
As I walked home from that gym that evening, I began to think of who I was maybe 25 years ago or so. I would have killed for a bikini bridge or gap. I thought of the young Sofia, and how wonderful it is that she is pleased with her normal sized body, and did not succumb to today’s pressures to be unrealistically skinny. These images of thigh gaps and the like also disturbed me. Since when did we forget about internal beauty, acts of kindness and being intelligent? Somehow things shifted in what we view as important. Then I began to think of my own fitness journey and what this blog may be conveying to a young person who may happen upon it. No, I have never stressed being skinny as making me feel good and look better, but I have stressed many times the esthetic side of fitness. In my “about” page and in many posts, I complain a lot about my body being pear-shaped or unbalanced. I make it no secret of my disdain about my small shoulders and big backside, but then I stress the importance of having a healthy body image. Mixed messages perhaps? I truly hope not. Please let me make myself clear, you pear-shaped lovelies, there is nothing wrong with your shape. If you are happy with it, then that is all that matters. I call myself T-Rex, because that is my way of making light of things, and adding a touch of humor to my blog. In all honesty, I would be lying if I said that I only exercise for health and wellness. While this is a major component of why I lift, sweat and push and pull, heck, I want to look great too! I want to add strength and muscle to my upper body. I admire the look of a muscular physique and find this tasteful and attractive for me. So while it is all about wellness and feeling great, yes, there is also a superficial side too. I think that could be said for many people. How many times have I heard in the gym, “I gotta’ tighten this butt. I gotta lose these chicken wings. I have to work off this muffin top.” I feel that all these goals are fine and personal, as long as they are being achieved in a healthy manner, by eating nutritious food and fueling your body. Never will I advocate or encourage crash dieting, starving or depriving the body from what it needs to be healthy and active. Never. I do believe that my goals are realistic and well-rounded at the same time, without focusing on the external goals excessively. With muscles, slender legs and broader shoulders on the agenda, I also have to focus on the other important reasons I exercise. A handout in my gym that I brought home outlines one of my reasons perfectly:
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to fight aging. Regular workouts drastically reduce the loss of muscle and bone and improve circulation. Exercise may also help reduce age-related diseases. As if that’s not enough, physical activity seems to have a proactive effect against dementia, and may improve memory and other cognitive functions.
To sum it up, I still want to be mambo-stepping and cha-cha-ing in Zumba class if I make it to see my eightieth birthday . Hopefully I’ll be doing this with broader shoulders and slimmer thighs too.
To see the full list of Why Exercise, click on the link below.
Why Exercise courtesy of http://www.womensfitnessclubs.com