I’ve recently joined a gym. While this may not necessarily be newsworthy enough for a full blog entry to be dedicated to it, and I have not intention of turning this into a ‘health and fitness’ blog, some of what I have witnessed since my new-found bout of looking after my body has caused me to consider some other things about my life.
I have joined a gym because I want to do something my future-self will thank me for. I was never a sporty person in school or university and I have never been the girl who would choose to go for a jog on a Saturday morning – but I’ve had to admit to myself that I am not getting any younger and, coming from the part of the world I come from and the genetic path I have been born into, the time to act is now, before it gets too difficult. Basically, I’ve made a conscious decision to take better care of myself.
The thing I like about my gym is that it’s for ‘normal’ people. The people you see there are all shapes and sizes, ages and backgrounds. There’s no pretentiousness or competition. It’s not intimidating and it is somewhere I don’t mind being.
Now, when I say all shapes and sizes, there is one gym-goer who has caught my attention. She is there every weekend when I go, both on a Saturday and a Sunday. Every day she can be found on the same step machine, pounding the steps, with a book in front of her or watching something on her iPod while climbing the make-believe flights of stairs. She is there when I arrive and still there when I leave. This girl caught my eye because of how thin she is. Unhealthily thin with only the thinnest layer of cushioning between her skin and her bones. She is burning calories that her body doesn’t have. And she is burning these invisible calories for hours every weekend, climbing those steps over and over again.
Every time I see her I wonder what she is going through. I wonder what has made her feel that she needs to do what she is doing. I wonder if someone is looking after her and helping her.
She has me wondering how many others who go to the gym or become fitness obsessed are dealing with their inner demons. How many people equate the number on the scales with their own worth?
Our society is filled with images of what we should look like, how we should dress and examples of quick fix diets to give us the most desirable body. So few of these media images focus on anything to do with the things that make us who we truly are – instead focusing on the external. While this is not a new discovery, and media has dictated what the everyday person should do, choose, be for as long as ‘media’ has existed.
However, if you look closer, there is an underlying, new focus in modern media that encourages simply looking healthy. In the midst of all the ‘fad diets’, the basic rules of keeping our bodies healthy remain, tried and tested, and fairly obvious. In the midst of super-skinny models and size zero fads, the ‘healthiest body shape’ is the same shape that is has always been – proportionate. The healthiest and happiest people are the ones who enjoy everything in proportion, who invest not only in their physical health, but also in their mental, emotional and spiritual health. You are more than a number on a scale. You are your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, loves.