Yesterday, I read a great post by Cassey at Blogilates. In preparation for a bikini competition, Cassey has been following a super strict diet and twice-a-day workout regime and recently posted pictures of her ridiculously sculpted body on her blog.
In her post (What do you mean I can’t look like this all the time?), she admitted to struggling with the fact that she won’t be able to maintain her new figure in the long-term. It was a really honest and eye-opening post about how truly dedicated one has to be to achieve and maintain that type of body. In fact, it pretty much has to become an all-consuming pursuit that leaves little room for anything else.
Her post got me thinking about what I refer to as the “good enough” point, or the body you achieve by consistently working hard and eating healthy, but not to the extent that it negatively affects your quality of life.
I think everyone’s “good enough” point is different. For me, it means making an effort to stay fit and eat healthy, but not having to dedicate all of my time and energy to it.
It means being conscious of how much and how often I indulge but still being able to eat at restaurants, go for drinks and maintain a normal social life.
It means enjoying impromptu treats from time to time but sometimes having to say no to them.
It means consistently working out but sticking to activities I enjoy, even if they’re not the most effective workouts out there.
It’s all about balance and yes it involves effort but at a level that I’m okay with. The body that I’ve achieved through these efforts is one that I’m happy with and can maintain in the long term. And that’s good enough for me.
That being said, there is always a tendency to compare oneself to others – fitness models, other bloggers, personal trainers. Women who are so impressively lean and toned that they make your own body look mediocre in comparison. When you see women like that, there is always a temptation to ramp up your efforts – to eat cleaner, to train harder, to be more disciplined.
Cassey’s post brought home the fact that fitness models/competitors do not look like that all of the time. To get that way, they have to eat and train in a way that is not maintainble for most people. Figure competitor and model Nicky Jankovic has also written about this topic. In her post Normal? Women’s Body Fat Levels (a highly recommended read), she writes:
The most common problem women are facing, and why they never reach their goals, or get there and can’t maintain them, is that they are setting goals that do not suit their lifestyle, or the amount of commitment they are willing to give. Setting a goal of 20-25% [body fat] for most women is very achievable with sensible nutrition and training, without having to sacrifice your life. This range of body fat is where I sit most of the time! I am not shredded to the bone but I still have definition and look ‘in shape.’
So next time you look at a woman’s body and think “I want that,” ask yourself if you really want it. Do you want to eat bland, flavourless food for the rest of your life? Do you want to alienate your friends and family by never eating with them or enjoying food they’ve prepared? Do you want to spend hours at the gym training? Do you want to track your macronutrient intake every single day for the rest of your life?
My guess is you probably don’t. So why aspire to something that isn’t maintainable? Why not aim for something more achievable and realistic? Why not aim for “good enough”?
So here is me at my “good enough” point.
Certainly not as “shredded” as the fitspiration pics you see all over Pinterest but I think I look fit and healthy. This is the result of working out 5-6 days a week and eating healthy 80% of the time. I’m sure if I cut out the 20% of “fun” calories I eat or was more hardcore in my training, I could look leaner. But the thing is, I don’t want to. I know I wouldn’t enjoy that kind of lifestyle and therefore wouldn’t be able to maintain it for very long. The extra effort and discipline required beyond what I’m already doing just wouldn’t be worth it.
Your turn: do you agree with the “good enough” principle or is it just an excuse to be mediocre?
Do you find pictures of fitness models inspiring or unrealistic?