I had a great conversation this morning in a private Facebook group. Before I post it, I just need to say I love a really good back and forth where no one flings insults or tries to troll. Just like the question I posted earlier this week, it’s so refreshing to have good old-fashioned dialogue.
Anyway, Workout Nirvana (aka Suzanne) and I (well, mostly I) hijacked a post in a Facebook group where someone mentioned their trainer described their goal as “Michelle Obama arms.”
As soon as I read it I sighed and then replied…
I’m going to be the bummer comment… how about you work on awesome Brooke Arms and stop the comparisons? Sorry, that’s just a pet peeve of mine. That being said… this is my fav site… http://exrx.net/Exercise.html read some of their articles on toning and fat loss. Great tips and will help you build a program.
On the other hand, having an audacious goal can be wicked fun. No shame in having role models!
Now, I could have let it go but you know when you are super passionate about something and there’s that burning desire to make people see something in a different way based on your experience or opinion? That force was just too strong and I replied again.
Hear you Suzanne.. and I know others are motivated by it but having a trainer make comparison goals on physical traits is a slippery slope. Some things are just not possible… I will never get twiggy arms, ever and it’s what I always wanted. Once I accepted my “Roni arms” and stopped worrying about what I look like things clicked for me. Again, not for everyone, sure but… Role models don’t always need to be based on physical traits. I think it’s a huge part of the problem with people’s goals and subsequent failures resulting in a lack of motivation.
Suzanne, who feels just as passionate, couldn’t help but respond either…
Twiggy arms or defined? Big difference in my opinion. This is such an interesting topic and of course, there is no right or wrong answer. Aesthetic goals are a huge motivator for many and trainers accept this as valid. I love it that M Obama has inspired many women to lift weights. (“Perfect” looking models are often very demotivating, with that I agree.)
And then I knew we had a good conversation going because unlike Suzanne, I don’t see there being a big difference in skinny or defined arms when it comes to a goal.
Nope twiggy arms.. love them, the way they look… always did… still would love to have them.. It doesn’t matter though (skinny or defined) my point is that by using physical traits as motivation we set some people (I’d argue most people) up to fail. Would you not agree that some women are simply not built to get Michelle O arms? So yes, I see her as a role model but it’s not because of her arms — it’s because of her attitude, her strength, her resilience, and her mission.
I know I’m not going to change a culture of physical beauty as a main motivator but I can at least try.
Now I need to take a sidebar here to say the reason I am very passionate about this is because I truly believe the problems I’ve had in the past with yo-yo dieting and binging, and even my initial weight gain as a child were because I had a physical goal that was not realistic for my body type. It’s why I started dieting at 12. It’s why I hid my body in baggy clothes. It’s why I felt I wasn’t attractive or worthy of love. It’s the basis for my entire disfunction with food. I know this is my personal experience but I also I know I’m not alone.
As a trainer I believe that if the desire is there, anyone can have beautifully defined arms (and that’s what Michelle has). She’s a curvy woman and that she’s been able to get that definition is a testimonial to what can be achieved if the desire is there. The key word? Desire. And I assure you, working towards physical traits is highly motivating. I saw this discussed elsewhere recently too, but there is training-for-aesthetics shaming just like there is fat shaming. Food for thought!
Not going to lie, I rolled my eyes at “training-for-aesthetics shaming” (Sorry Suzanne)
I’m sorry. Not even close. There is no shaming here. That’s a cop out. If say, Twiggy came to you as a potential client and said ‘I want to look like Michelle Obama’ you would tell her that’s possible? You would look her straight in the face and say ‘YES let’s do this!’ And while she’s working out, and trying to bulk up, and stressing over how much she needs to eat to attempt to change her physical appearance into something that is unnatural for her body type you would be supporting her the whole way. And when months or even years go by and she looks like Twiggy with a little more muscle. And she’s staring in the mirror wondering whats wrong with her, why can’t she be curvier and have more of an ass or bigger biceps or more of an hourglass figure you wouldn’t wonder where you went wrong?
Yes, aesthetics plays a HUGE part in people’s motivation but again, slippery slope. There are some people who simply cannot be curvy and muscular just like there are some people who cannot thin out to the point of waif.
My point is by nudging people to have goals beyond physical traits we better serve everyone. We build a culture that supports people to be the best they can be regardless of what their body shape is.
Going from skinny to muscular as the goal isn’t the answer. We swapped one idea of the ideal female form for another. That’s all.
I’m tired of women having a moving target. It’s apparently not working for us… last I checked people are still struggling to lose weight, get fit and be healthier all while trying (hoping, dreaming) of looking like someone else.
I’m sorry I hijacked this post. I’m just really super passionate about this.
That’s when we agreed that we are both equally passionate and there was no way we would change each other’s minds.
Maybe my personal history and experience are clouding my thoughts here. I know lots of people who are inspired by physical appearance goals and it does serve them BUT (and that “but” is BIG on purpose) I think it’s because they are the lucky ones whose goals happen to match their natural body type and potential. For the rest of us, I stand by my opinion that intrinsic trumps aesthetic every time when it comes to weight loss and fitness goals.