Sunday, March 9, 2014

#keepingitreal

"You're so skinny". 

I hear this all the time. Meant as a compliment, I know, but it really isn't, if you think about it. And let's face it...you'd never go up to an overweight person and say, "you're so fat!".

Plus, I'm not skinny. Full disclosure: I'm 5'5, 125#, BMI 22. This is considered healthy. Not skinny. But in the United States, our perspective is skewed, since >35% of adults are considered obese; >69% are overweight (source: CDC). We are so used to seeing overweight people and kids, for that matter. So when we see someone who is actually a normal weight, we may see them as skinny. In my practice as a pediatric nurse practitioner, I spend a lot of time trying to convince concerned parents (and grandparents) that their normal sized children are not too thin, that they are a healthy weight. It's a tough sell. Which is kind of crazy when you consider that being thin is a lot healthier than being overweight.

And in spite of the high rate of obesity in our country, women face enormous pressure to be thin. A visit with a teenage girl in my clinic last week prompted me to write about this. The patient came in for an evaluation because she passed out at track practice. When I reviewed her chart, I noticed that she had lost quite a bit of weight since her last visit 6 months ago. Her current BMI? 17. Now that's skinny.

Her exam and workup were completely normal. That didn't surprise me, since most teenagers don't have cardiac issues. When I talked to her about her eating habits, she told me she "doesn't have time to eat" or drink, for that matter. We talked about needing fuel for life and her activities. She nodded as I spoke, but at the end of our conversation, she just asked me when she could go back to track. During the visit, her mom sat there and smiled. She didn't say a word. To buy myself some time so I could talk with her father, I told the patient I was sending her to cardiology to be cleared to return to track. In the meantime, I called her father and shared my concerns with him. Used the words "eating disorder". He didn't buy it. He told me he'd watch her eat. I recommended a visit with our adolescent specialist, who is an expert with eating disorders. He told me his daughter was too busy for that. Sigh.

Everywhere you turn, there is pressure on women to be thin. And just being in shape isn't enough, you have to be ripped! Don't get me started on the "thigh gap" that was a big "thing" last year. When looking for running motivational pins on Pinterest and tumblr,  I've come across a lot of so-called "Fitspiration"pins. The women in these pictures have amazing physiques, with ripped muscles, large breasts, and flat abs. I don't find these pins especially motivational because to me they portray unrealistic body images. But at age 51 I've accepted my body. I'm strong and I can still run, although I'm not as fast as I used to be. I'm not very flexible but I do yoga to help with that. When I was younger, I wasn't as accepting of my body, and I can see why women would look to these pictures to be motivational.

 Here are some examples:

No matter how hard most of us do yoga, this pose is simply unattainable!

Last fall Lauren Fleshman posted on her blog a photo of herself from a runway show. She said out of the hundreds of photos taken, only a handful were actually good.


In response to criticism about her body looking so good merely 3 months after giving birth, she also posted photos which were unretouched, including this one:

I love that she did this. BTW, this blog post went worldwide! She definitely struck a chord with lots of women. Maybe if more celebrities did this, we all could let go of that perfect body image.

She also wrote about this for Runner's World, which you can read here. In this article, she encouraged women to post pictures of themselves for a project she's working on. 

So in the spirit of Lauren Fleshman, here's 50 year old me (I'm in the middle, with 2 of my friends at the beach last summer). Letting it all hang out.

And instead of re-pinning unrealistic Fitspiration pictures, let's embrace the Saucony "Find your Strong" project. There's a blog, inspiring stories, photo competitions (check out the March Muddiness competition)...now this is inspirational!


And when you see a fit person, don't tell them they're "skinny". 

Just tell them how strong they look.


How do you feel about your body? Do you bare it in a bikini or do you cover up? Do you look for fitness models for motivation? 




#bestfoot







18 comments :

  1. I am 5 5 and would love to weigh 125. The closest I got was 128 and I was getting those you're too skinny comments.
    Good luck in your half. Hope your 12 mile run went well.

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    1. Thanks so much for checking in! ! I've been following you for a while..love your posts. Yes, my 12 miler went well. We'll see how it translates to a warmer, more humid climate in Florida.

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  2. I'm 5ft 5 as well and I weigh 123lbs. I saw my parents on the weekend and my dad hugged me and said Oh you're wasting away. *sigh*. I'm not. I'm a lean mean running machine, ha ha. I think he would be shocked at how much muscle I actually have on my body. But you don't see that when you're fully clothed. I don't really pay attention to those "fitspiration" pics. Probably because I don't really have any desire to look like that. I'm happy with the way my body looks, especially for a 43 year old. :) I love that you're rockin' the bikini - good on ya - you look FABULOUS.

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    1. Thanks Phaedra! It does get easier as I get older...who am I trying to impress, right? My sons don't care and my husband loves me, so its all good...

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  3. I've always been more focused on what my body could do vs how it looked. When I was a figure skater at age 12 a girl told me my legs were fat. Thank heavens I knew even then they were muscular and 'phat' not fat. One of the many reasons I'm a huge advocate of sports for kids. Confidence is key.

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    1. You are the perfect example of what sports can do for a girl! Made you feel good about yourself. And that's what its all about.

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  4. Thank you so much for touching on this subject, Wendy. I have seen the pictures of Lauren Fleshman and totally applaud what she did. I am almost 37, 5'9 and weigh 130 and my BMI is 19. I wont lie and say I don't struggle with body issues at times. I chose not to get on a scale anymore. It's not worth it to me. I don't think I will ever look the way I want and my pregnancy pooch will always be there. I do, however, teach my daughter she is beautiful and strong and should be so proud of what she looks like. GREAT post!

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    1. I'm with you Karen...I don't get on a scale. Like my age is just a number, so is my weight. I go with how my clothes fit and how I feel. I can't deny that I've had body image issues over the years but as I've aged and kept on running, it has gotten a lot easier. It was hard for me to put that bikini back on, but I'm glad I did it! Love what you are doing with your daughter.

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  5. amen to that not exactly being a compliment. My parents like to say it to me and I can tell it's not a good thing, but I'm wayyyy far away from being too thin so I think they miss my baby fat face :) I loved Lauren's post and kudos to you for being real here too!!

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    1. Thanks! I think we all need to be real...!

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  6. Great post and what a sad story about the 17-yr. old you saw. I hate that there's so much pressure on women and especially that it trickles down to young girls. We all need to do our part to help eradicate this. Lauren Fleshman rocks, in my opinion, with her open honesty. I think it's one all moms should read to their daughters when age appropriate. And you look strong and fit in your bathing suit shot!

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    1. I feel like we just can't talk about this enough. Seems like it is a constant battle between reality and media's portrayal of the "perfect" woman. Yesterday I saw an ad from Target for a bathing suit in which the model was photoshopped (badly) with her inner thighs cut out! Target? WTH!

      Thanks for the comments!

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  7. Your story of the 17 year old breaks my heart. I remember lots of girls like that from high school. As I've aged, I've definitely started to feel more comfortable in my body. And all the fitspo pics on Pinterest and Tumbler don't inspire me at all. I think it's rather sad that anyone would see that as inspiration. BTW - you are not 50?!?! You look fab!

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    1. Aw thanks for the complement!

      I agree, those fitspo pix are pretty disturbing to me, which is why i wrote this post. But judging by the large amount of them and how many come up in my feed, I think we are in the minority!

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  8. I think your friends and you look amazing!

    I love that picture of Lauren Fleshman. We all have different sides. On any given day I can look great and not so great at all, depending on the posture, the clothes, etc.

    I try to keep my 2 daughters well aware that the pictures of women we see in the media have nothing to do with "real life", yet I would never want them to become obese and happy about it! We look for balance. It comes with eating healthy (but no taboo food) and having fun moving! :-)

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    1. Thanks! :)

      I think it is harder for girls, but I don't want my boys to think that the images of women portrayed in the media are "real life" either. Hopefully having an active mom will help...

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  9. This is so well stated!! Our society puts so much pressure on women to look a certain way instead of focusing on our strengths. It's not our size that makes us worthy of love and friendship. I workout and eat healthy, but being skinny is not something I strive for, I just want to be active and healthy for my daughter.

    Thank you for all of your support to Girls Run the 901 on our blog and FB page!! We appreciate you so much.

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    1. Thank you so much for all your support! And I love your page and blog...keep inspiring all of us to be healthy and fit!

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