Thursday, April 11, 2013

When is FIT NOT HEALTHY?

If I asked you: "Do you want to be healthy?" you probably make up your mind without skipping a beat and answer,  "Yes." Not healthy is no fun; just remember the last time you were home with a stomach flu. Sick = Sucky. 

If I asked you: "Do you want to be in great shape? To look fit?" I would hazard to guess the answer would again be, without hardly thinking, "Yes." Granted, some people do not want to be in great shape more than they want to party, to eat as much as they want of what they want, to drink $5 lattes, or to avoid all physical exertion... but they DO want to be in shape too. 

If I asked you: "Which is more important: to be healthy, or to be in great shape?" you might have to think a bit longer ... Wait, aren't those basically the same thing? Mutually inclusive at least? Related? Isn't a fit, attractive, slim, toned body merely the physical manifestation and effect of a healthy lifestyle? And if so, doesn't being in great shape necessitate and therefore include being healthy? It seems so silly to question whether one would rather prefer health or to be in great shape. Doesn't fitness cause health, and doesn't health encourage fitness? Like so: 

HEALTH <--> FITNESS

NO. You are right to think that fitness follows, and is encouraged by, being healthy... but the question: "Which is more important - to be healthy, or to be in great shape?" isn't silly, and it is not a stupid question! In fact, it is no laughing matter the lengths I have seen many people go to, myself most definitely included, to GAIN the physical appearance of a fit body at the COST of health. It is entirely possible, and by definition extremely unhealthy, to achieve the look of a fit body without possessing what should be the root cause of fitness: your health. 

Your health is really a sum of three parts: 
(1) A healthy mind 
(2) A healthy body
(3) A healthy spirit 


Without ANY of the three parts, the sum is incomplete and you are, by definition, unhealthy. The lack of wellness, 'sickness,' in one of the three creates an unhealthy condition in the whole person!

Sadly - there is a dark and vile lie that has infected the minds of many on their quest for health - but has NOTHING TO DO WITH HEALTH! In women especially, the lie reads like this: 
LIE:
"My physical appearance can, should, 
must be improved...at any cost."

This is where the kind of should-be-used-for-good mantras:

"no pain no gain," 
"if it hurts, it's working," 
"suck it up cupcake," 
"suffer now, reap the results later" 

... all snowball into a self-centered, self-condemning, self-destructing prophesy of extreme measures so you can just look in shape! No health required. 




Ladies and gentlemen: this is where Health is NOT = Fitness. This is trecherous territory. This pounding, throbbing, insatiable desire to be attractive and look "in shape" has lead men and women astray in a multitude of horrendous, and sometimes even subtle, ways. It has lead women to the tip of a knife for a nip and a tuck; to the makeup counter for more coverage and less freckles, 10X fuller lashes, and 5X fuller lips; to the gym for 3 hours of cardio and hundreds of crunches to lose a muffin top; to the latest overpriced, fad diet with only juice and powdered food to subside on in return for a new, slim physique - fast.... only to spend longer than we'd like to admit pinching and checking our bodies in the mirror for any signs of reduced body fat, freshly sprouted six-pack abs, smaller pores, or fuller brows... we search and search for even any sign of improvement; always coming up short of where we "should be." 

Where has the lie lead you? You can probably think of many ways that you have personally believed the lie that: "you need a more perfect body.... at any cost." Whether it was stuffing your bra with socks in high school, hiding your freckles under thick makeup for pictures, or maybe not eating all day because you want to lose that last 5 pounds. This deep, pounding, throbbing, insatiable desire to be attractive and look "in shape" lead me to Bulimia Nervosa. I believed the lie too. I fell, like so many other miserably trapped men and women that I shutter to imagine their pain, into an eating disorder; an eating disorder, that took YEARS to escape. I put perfecting my physical appearance on a pedestal of such epic proportions that I could not see around it. I forgot all about the true meaning of "Health" and its three parts: mind, body, and spirit. All I could see was BODY


BODY

BODY

BODY

BODY
Bulimia Nervosa is only one of many terrible eating disorders, such as: anorexia, bingeing, and laxative abuse, that weasel their lying and deceitful claws into a person's mind and convince the person that: 

LIE: 
" This __ (eating disorder) __ will help you get skinny/look fit/be attractive ... and if it doesn't help - it will at least relieve the stress and pressure of the struggle to get skinny/look fit/be attractive." 

Eating disorders take root for a multitude of different reasons, one of which I know personally is the deep insecure desire to improve, and somehow continue to improve and maintain a "perfect" physique... at any cost. I was trying to fix my body. I was desperately trying to achieve what in my mind I envisioned as the "PRO BIKINI" look. It didn't help that I was also trying to meet my maximum potential to excel in the sport; to make my coach proud; to inspire my friends, family - and even strangers - to work hard and get fit; to prove my haters wrong; and to prove to myself that I was a success. Looking back, I started competing in Bikini competitions for the athletic challenge of it all, and for the sisterhood with strong incredible women. And I stayed for those same reasons, and the platform I saw open up to share health and fitness with others and improve their lives by being a motivator, an inspiration, and an educator. I wanted to be like my idol and my hero: Jamie Eason, a fitness spokes-model with a heart of gold and a wealth of knowledge. The way I saw it, I HAD to succeed!! Anything less than reaching a perfectly fit physique would be a grave failure to not only reach my potential but to inspire others. NOT an option. 

Hold on,  wait... do you see the disconnect here? I wanted other people to get fit too, and I absolutely still do, but there's just one blatantly obvious problem with the way I was going about it...

PROBLEM:
If healthier is happier, WHY are so many women (like me) making themselves MISERABLE in the name of health and fitness!?

I don't have all the answers, but through conquering my own demons and realizing my own motives for being UNHEALTHY to achieve the perception of health I have discovered the "why's" behind my SICKNESS, and that is what ultimately led me to finding my HEALTH. I sincerely hope  that by identifying these unhealthy thought patterns I can save someone - maybe you - from repeating my wretched mistakes and developing an eating disorder. That is why I write these things, that is why I investigate and explore these dark problems - to prevent them from being repeated. 


What I learned from my own experience is this: 
The dark and treacherous lie of, "My physical appearance can, should, and must be improved ... at any cost." or in other words, "Get attractive at any cost." sneaks in because it starts with acknowledging that there is some beginnings of beauty, attractiveness, a body to be admired - or at the very least there is some potential! Potential, that if left untapped would be FAILURE.  See? It started out positive. It started with: 

"You are special, Ruthie."
"You can help so many people - keep it up, keep pushing."
"You could have a great Pro career."
"You could be great." 

Wow, no pressure! The pressure literally (excuse the pun) ate me alive. Read all about that in my other post: Victory Without Competition.  I was on a fast-track to success, and a fast-track to failure at the same exact time! I crashed and burned. But now, it is like night and day - I see my past as a stark contrast to my future, and the challenge to "improve," "be better," "be great," "help so many people," and "inspire others" are no longer reasons to PANIC and eat everything in sight only to purge it back out in a matter of minutes; no - I see this challenge is an amazing opportunity, and it actually brings me great peace and joy to think of my potential! 

You are probably wondering, so I'll ask for you.... 


THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: 
WHAT CHANGED? WHAT DID I LEARN?


ANSWER: 
I DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO DO ANY  OF THE AMAZING THINGS I HAVE THE POTENTIAL FOR. IF FACT, MY IMPERFECTION IS WHAT MAKES THE GREATNESS OF MY IMPACT.


Read that to yourself, release yourself from a quest for perfection (at any cost) and allow the possibility of increased efficacy due to your imperfection become your new vision. It's so simple I almost missed it. I missed it for a long time, in fact! So simple, yet SO POWERFUL. My imperfect holds strength??? It increases my potential to help others and make a difference in their lives for the better??? Yes, and yes. So, since I learned it the hard way, promise me you'll learn from my experience

Lesson: in your imperfection lies your beauty, your greatness, and your unique, priceless qualities. Love yourself and all those imperfections. Keep your mind from hating your body, from squelching your spirit, and destroying your health. The way we see our bodies begins and ends in the mind; therefore, to be "in good shape" does in fact necessitate health (mind, body, spirit) so make it your #1 priority to obtain Optimal Health in MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT. 




SO - after learning all that - I will continue to work hard, eat clean, be a voice for health and fitness, and keep working towards my own Optimal Health. I am stronger now that ever.  After going through all those years of self-hatred and perfection-seeking, I think I can survive a couple intense workouts to improve my fitness!! Going through a great struggle makes enduring smaller struggles absolutely conquerable.

I am not a victim and I am not broken; and I am most DEFINITELY NOT done working hard, staying focused and one day realizing my dream job of being a fitness motivator, writer, and model. I can make my dreams into reality despite what I have done wrong in the past, and so can you ;)  




Blessings,

Ruthie xoxo 





1 comment:

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