There’s such an emphasis on looking good in today’s fitness industry. I won’t deny that I care about looking good, but during my 19 years of dedication to lifelong fitness, the desire to feel good has always been my most reliable motivator. For many of us, reaching an aesthetic ideal can be frustrating and might never happen. By year eight of my once-aesthetics-focused regime, I reached this conclusion with disappointment. I had to contend with things out of my control, like my torso being an inch or two too short; my body naturally storing fat below my butt rather than on my butt, which forced me to keep my body fat low to minimize my pear shape; then, there are my calf muscles, which are much too high. Oh, how I wish I had a longer medial head and gastrocnemius! Describing this sounds ridiculous reading back, but I once obsessed over those features of my body.
Fortunately, the act of exercising and healthful eating grew on me during that eight-year period, and I decided to press on, but with new goals: skill development and functionality. I had to set realistic goals for my physical makeup. Some aesthetic goals are out of the realm of our genetics, some athletic goals are too. We don’t all have the makeup of an Olympic athlete, despite what supplement companies will tell you. Although I’ve been rewarded for athletic performance and obtained a fitness modeling contract, there are tiers of greatness. That’s life. After sobering up to this reality, I began to value my hard-earned abilities over my image in the mirror, my strengths over my muscle size, and a healthy heart over having the best legs. I also learned to appreciate my natural gifts. Instead of focusing on things I cannot have, I began embracing what I do have. Instead of focusing on an image that wasn’t attainable for me, I began pushing my limits where growth was possible, such as addressing athletic imbalances developed during my long dedication to aesthetic training.
While some might believe I created an elite physique (pictured above), there was always another level, as stated above. I faced criticism over small areas of my body, such as my rear delts (critic: “They’re kinda flat.”), or the depth of the grooves in my abs (critic: “flex harder, blow your air out!”), or my natural pattern of storing body fat (critic: “I mean, your butt is developed, but it’s shaped weird.” – me: “It’s because how my body stores fat. Wanna pay for my fat transfer surgery!?”). None of these things about me were good enough for some people. Although my body was much stronger than it had ever been at the time, those people and others who focus on aesthetics, overlooked my hard-earned skill and ability—my journey—and focused on areas of my body that are just not quite perfect compared to other people’s. Imperfections are what make your body uniquely your body. Some people take injections to pump up these areas. I have not. Some people take steroids for that extra bit of muscle growth. I have not. My goal is lifelong fitness, not to have health issues down the line because I was obsessed with perfection and the appearance of fitness.
All this is to point out a major fault in the current fitness industry, more correctly, the “health” and “fitness” industry. There’s a pervasive, lopsided focus on physical appearance over actual athletic ability and physiological health. On a shoot I participated in during my stint as a fitness model, a girl who literally cried in pain while doing basic push-ups got a long-term contract with the company hosting the shoot. Meanwhile, more physically conditioned women, but less of the Western ideal of attractiveness, were overlooked. This is common in an industry that focuses on aesthetics and marketability first and foremost.
Not to single out Michael B. Jordan (see “Sources & Further Reading” below), but as someone who once surrounded herself around bodybuilders and focused on aesthetics, I know Kinesiologist Greg Doucette speaks the truth about the reality of the aesthetics “fitness” world.
As someone with almost 20 years of dedication to lifelong fitness—reaching goals through self-study as a single mom and on welfare some of that time—I learned to value and respect people who go after goals no matter the obstacles; people who, while disappointed with their physical limits, still refrain from taking anabolic substances that would give them an extra edge; and people who are dedicated to true health and fitness. I encourage anyone reading this to prioritize actual health as well as physical mastery when seeking fitness or nutrition information. Look for programs that have the goal of longevity built in. Oftentimes, those are the cheapest options available. Lastly, question “the shiny objects”—those celebrities and fitness models you see on TV and on the internet. Do they, unlike you, have resources available to them that make attaining their physiques easier and more attainable? What is the incentive for them to reach that level of fitness, and does that incentive drive them to take unhealthy routes to get there? In the end, the cheaters and those just scraping by burn out or fade away. Those with a lifelong vision and the sense to learn how to achieve it, are the real winners.
Sources & Further Reading “Black Panther and Creed Star - Michael B. Jordan - Amazing Transformation WAS HE NATURAL ?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmOxXPk-QSA "Hip Dips Surgery: Procedure, Side Effects, Costs - Healthline." 24 Feb. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/hip-dips-surgery. "Hollywood's dirty diet secrets - NY Daily News - New York ...." 23 Mar. 2008, https://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/hollywood-dirty-diet-secrets-article-1.286090. “Tom Hardy’s Steroid Cycle - Was He Natural In ‘Warrior’ Or As Bane?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyj1CgLG7PM
As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Affordable Fitness