As if instagram didn't objectify our appearance enough... its' algorithm has the audacity to suggest this propaganda into my feed.
Images such as these carry the suggestion is that the body type pictured at the top left corner is undesirable and all you have to do is buy into their bullshit and you too can be thin.
Now I don't think I need to ramble about the first premise, that a bodacious body is undesirable, body positivity is picking up pace and there are a lot of great resources that tap into that topic really well.
What I want to bring to our attention rather is the way we talk about our bodies and fitness, because I think we've all been
"I've been working* crazy hours and I'm not so fit right now"
*working can be exchanged with I don't know... giving birth, sick, relaxing, enjoying time doing other things, giving my body time to recover, on holidays, living life...
Why are such judgement statements problematic? Because they're built around some kind of judgement about a socially desirable ideal.
I'd like to challenge you to ask yourself the following:
What is that ideal, how would we finally know we are "fit"?
-- when the scale reads the number we want to see? When we go down a size? When we get that QOM? When we ride more or are faster than our friends? When we look better in photos?
How have you built that ideal for yourself?
-- Cultural notions of beauty? Comparing yourself against others? What you used to look like and what you used to be able to do?
Not only are the expectations we set on ourselves and our inevitably aging bodies often unreasonable and unrealistic, I've felt first hand the endless loop of chasing some ideals which don't actually satisfy the gap we are trying to fill in setting them. I'd ride 80 km and then think agh I should do 100km. I'd get a QOM and then see a friend got two and I'd feel low all over again. I realized, I will never be satisfied with hitting any level of "fit" or "ideal" until I accept I am already my own ideal within myself.
In my experience, you will reach one milestone and chase another and you will constantly loop yourself into a hole of wanting more and not accepting yourself as you are. Also, we are all getting older! Our bodies are constantly changing, I know mine changes like crazy every month with my cycle. For the moms out there, what you used to be able to do was maybe what you could do before your body literally produced another human being, your body has evolved its ideals now.
To be clear, I'm not saying don't set goals because those can be important motivators and actually just fun to tackle but rather, don't rely on the achievement of them or on the external reward (praise from others, kudos, insta likes, looking closer to some ideal image in your head) to satisfy your needs or to say "ok now I'm fit, now I can be happy, now I can accept myself."
I'm also not asking you to suppress the grief that comes with changing bodies and changing priorities. Those feelings are valid, evolving is hard and change is hard. But remember no one is harder on you than you are and nothing is harder on you than setting ideals for yourself that are motivated by external influences and cultural notions.
injury prevention: keep my body moving well and facilitate pain free sport
bonk prevention: prepare myself for the challenges I have in mind and build my capacity up to a point where I can enjoy those long rides where I feel most free
have fun and incorporate a bit of structure to my long-term health
be confident in myself and love myself regardless of my achievements
If you need a shoulder to grieve on or someone to bounce ideas off of for sustainable goal setting, let us know! And remember, you are fierce, regardless.
For more on this topic check out Kerrys post on being a mom or our post about the pains of using Strava.