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Monday, June 15, 2015

Are We Obsessed with Fitness Perfection?


This is another draft that has been in our draft folder for almost a year. I decided that it might be a good time to post it after reading all of the comments from my post on how Getting Into Fitness Ruined My Body Image.

Before I continue with this post I wanted to point out the fact that I feel very grateful that I refuse to do anything that will compromise my health. I've never had an eating disorder and I don't over-exercise but I know that mentally this body image issue is not good for me. I honestly already feel a lot better just from publishing that post. I haven't critiqued myself in the mirror or compared myself to anyone on social media. I have been focusing on what my body can do. I started taking a yoga class a few times per week and I'm excited to master a new move that I can do on top of all of the mountains we climb on our trip this fall. :-) I plan to continue to focus on having a positive attitude and live my life without falling into the comparison trap (you can read more in my post on Building Up Your Confidence with Positive Thinking).

Now onto my new ramblings...

Are We Obsessed with Fitness Perfection?

I'm proud to say that both Scott and I have lived this lifestyle for over 4 years. We have a healthy balance in our lives. We never make the "most active" list at the gym. Why? Because we have other things to do with our lives besides go to the gym twice a day or even every single day. People will be up on the most active board with 20 or more swipes in ONE week. It isn't healthy to workout that often - doing so usually leads to an unhealthy relationship and distorted body image. Don't get me wrong though, we do workout in the gym. We are normally there 4-5 times per week. We also have other activities we enjoy outside of the gym like hiking, biking, playing tennis, etc. Our workouts are not always in a gym.

Why is it that once we become interested in fitness and being healthy it eventually turns into an obsession to be perfect?

It seems like many people who find an interest in health and fitness think that a competition is their next step. I'm not knocking competitions but I've seen them ruin some people completely. Some don't even have an interest in being healthy after the fact because it was all for the competition - not for life. I have never wanted to do a competition because I never wanted someone else judging my body but now I do that to myself. I feel like everyday is a competition for everyone because of social media. I couldn't even begin to imagine having my body picked apart by someone else and compared to other people. Like I mentioned, I think we all do that enough to ourselves.

The picture I found below is from a hike Scott and I did last weekend. We hiked 10 miles - why isn't that enough?

Or this one where we spontaneously hiked 4 miles to see the sunset.

Or climbing half dome. Yes, we climbed that.

Or maybe this one where we climbed the highest mountain in the lower 48 (Mount Whitney) at the END of our two week hiking trip.

Or doing a backbend in Zion National Park after hiking Angel's Landing.

Why do these accomplishments never seem good enough?

I posted this on our Instagram account (heandsheeatclean) back in May but every time I think about it helps put things into perspective. Over Memorial Day weekend we did one of the hardest hikes we've done (probably number 2 or 3 behind Mt Whitney and Half Dome), over 11 miles in Linville Gorge. Not only was it hard physically but mentally it was tough to finish. We were once again reminded that life is NOT about how much money you make or a number on the scale - Life IS about LIVING IT - the memories you make and the adventures you take. A man, who loved hiking the trails, died on the trail 20 min before we got to that point. He was STILL THERE. We had to walk past a deceased hiker in a body bag on the trail. He was 55 and died of a heart attack. He died doing what he loved. I couldn't even hold back my tears for someone that I didn't know because my dad leaves for the Appalachian Trail again in a month. I KNOW that we were there for a reason. We were in that spot so that I would finally find the courage I needed to post about my struggles. His friends and family didn't care if he had a 6 pack or if he could out-lift others in the gym. They cared about the kind of person he was INSIDE.

Whenever I get into one of my deep comparison traps, Scott always asks me "Is this really going to matter in a year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. What matters is that you are healthy and you are." Once you really think about it most of the stuff we beat ourselves up about...doesn't matter. The only place it really matters is on social media.

You can browse through many different social media sites and see "selfies" that people post daily (or sometimes even multiple times per day) that shows just how "perfect" they are but just know that isn't attainable for everyone. YOU are not THEM. You have a different set of circumstances, a different body composition, and different LIFE. This doesn't mean that you can't have goals and work to better yourself but do this for the right reasons.

We're also sure that you have seen photos that people post where they are clearly very lean but say something about how they aren't in that good of shape now or that they can't see their abs because of dinner last night, etc. Don't get wrapped up in the "fitspo" community that is ever-so prevalent these days. Find out what works for you (eating and workout wise) and stick with it! It may take some time, months or even a year, to find out your optimal combination but it's worth it! Sometimes the people who you think look like the optimal picture of health are actually really broken on the inside. Stop letting the world dictate what success looks like to you. Find your own version of success.

We've posted this picture before in our intro post to "He and She Unfiltered" but we wanted to share it again here. Get rid of the noise and focus on YOU! Make life an adventure!


  1. Whitney I just want to say thank you so much for being so honest and open. Your other post was wonderful and I am so grateful you shared. I found your blog about a year ago and have always loved following it because you guys seem so down-to-earth and excited about sharing and promoting a clean and healthy lifestyle, it's never been about the way you look.

    I never struggled with body image even through gaining the freshman 15, or 30, lol, or when I gained too much weight in my pregnancy, it wasn't until I started loosing and getting more fit. I have become my worst critic and I think you're right, I think social media has really impacted me more than I would like to admit. I'm challenging myself to change my thinking, to be happy in my body which has been changed and shaped by a baby and a c-section. I love this post because I want to be proud that my body is stronger, that I can do more challenging things like tougher hikes.

    Thank you again and I would love to help in any way of changing the way we let social media influence us. I have a little girl and I don't want her to ever feel this way, I don't want her to compare herself to others, I want her to love herself and feel confident. It's been a goal of mine for the past couple years to not criticize myself in front of her, now I am working on not doing it at all. It's hard but I'm changing my thinking and just knowing that others share in the struggle and reading your post is so encouraging!!

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment Diane! Sorry it took me so long to respond. How has it been for you? Do you feel any better? Did you take that break from social media (or at least the media that makes you think negatively)?

  2. This post, and your "Getting Into Fitness Post" have been two of the best reads recently. In December 2013, I signed up with a competition team because I thought that would be the only way to reach the "pinnacle" of fitness. I keep thinking of success as 6-pack abs and I realize that instead of motivating me, it's discouraging because it seems like so farfetched for me. How do you suggest people who are stuck in that idea of "image perfection" shift their perspective? Especially with the prevalence of social media.

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I am going to have a series of posts relating to these topics soon but you really have to dig deep down. The best thing for me, which is easier said than done, is to quit looking at those "fitspirations" - which means I quit looking/browsing Instagram. I hope you find what works for you please keep me updated!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Kylie! We need to catch up soon!


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