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What does healthy really look like?

If how we look is totally determined by food and exercise then as an accredited exercise physiologist with over 17 years industry experience and a semi-completed masters in human nutrition, I should have the perfect physique….right?!

Well, actually no and here’s why. There are MANY things that determine how we look and the strongest influencer is non-modifiable (i.e. you cannot change it). This is your genetics. What’s very very concerning to me is that no-one seems to accept that genetics actually plays any role in body composition these days and those that try and suggest their genetics are not helping them are laughed at or told to not make excuses for being lazy. So before anyone starts yelling about this being a cop out, the acknowledgement of your immutable, genetically-based aesthetics is no reason to say “stuff it” and eat crap and not exercise for the rest of your life. Rather, acknowledging the limitations of what you can LOOK like brings (some) peace and an ability to focus on smashing out other health and fitness goals. You see, the real problem with focusing on how you look, is that when you don’t achieve your desired look (and there’s no guarantee you can) you either give up (despite getting healthy) or go to unhealthy lengths to try and achieve this look (that ignorant health professionals will tell you, you can achieve with only their program). So what I am here to tell you is that our body composition is influenced by SO MANY factors (environment, genetics, gender, medical conditions, hormones, muscle mass, diet, exercise, metabolism etc.) so we need to stop beating ourselves up over things we have no control over. You can’t control how you look or where your body prefers to store fat so it’s time to start loving yourself for all the great things about you!

Everybody has body issues and there are definitely things I wish I could change about myself but I’ve had to make peace with my body. I’ve had four kids (including a set of twins) and my body has been through hell and back. I have endured all the pleasantries associated with pregnancy and to be thankful, I’m just pleased I’m not totally broken. I recognise that I will never look like Elle McPherson (not even if I do her program 😉 ) and I’m slowly coming to terms with this  😛

So, despite my knowledge and training, I have cellulite

a weird looking stomach in certain positions

and many hang ups about the way I look.

I don’t like the top of my thighs, the back of my arms or that as I lose weight, my face gets really skinny and my chest gets disproportionately bony to the rest of me.

However, I am currently the strongest, fittest and healthiest I have been in a very long time and I love how that makes me feel.

So the next time you feel like beating yourself up, remember that the fitness industry is about as fake as it gets. It promotes a one-dimensional perspective on health, all whilst preying on your inner fears and insecurities. All the fitness models use filters, fake tan, make-up, angles and great lighting to enhance and hide. It’s also more than likely that they have the genetics of demi-gods. This is not to say they don’t eat well or exercise but simply the acknowledgement that if you’ve been slim all your life, your genes have probably been kind to you.

Ultimately we need to stop trying to aim for a perfect physique as it doesn’t exist! If you were to describe what you think it is, I could show you 1000 people who disagree with you. The perfect physique is mythical because we all like different things and this is fabulous! How absolutely boring if we all looked the same!

So finally, everyone has body hang ups and what you see on the internet is probably not real. It’s time to recognise that thigh gaps, 6 packs, and/or perky glutes are not necessarily associated with good health just as cellulite, a rounded tummy, “fat thighs” and/or a BMI over 25 doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unhealthy either.

Everything we do should be in pursuit of good health and good health is determined by a number of factors, least of which is what we look like!

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