In the world we live in today, our culture lives and breathes for the idea that women need to be stick thin and perfect. Despite all the backlash that this stigma receives, it still exists. Our culture and especially our media seem to want our women to be twigs.
When this new school year started, I decided to make a conscious effort to go to the gym as much as my schedule allowed. When I mentioned this workout routine to my boyfriend, he bombarded me with questions, mostly, why? He said “you don’t need to, you look amazing as is. I love your soccer calves. You’re going to be in better shape than me. I don’t want other guys looking at you while you work out. I love you the way you are.” Don’t get me wrong, this was all very flattering. However, none of this changed my mind. You see, my intentions of working out were not for him; they were for me.
Do you know how embarrassing it is to weigh more than your boyfriend?
Growing up, all the movies and magazines showed couples where the man was big and tall and buff and the girl was significantly shorter and had a petite figure. While my boyfriend may have me beaten in the height category, I easily take the cake in the weight department (no pun intended). This was just my main reason to start throwing in some casual exercises into my daily life this school year.
My desired major is in kinesiology (aka exercise science) and it wasn’t until a class I had this semester with Dr. Stacey Ingraham that I realized that if this is my major and I am as passionate about it as I believe I am, why am I not living it? I am being taught by highly educated individuals what the benefits are for living an active life, and the consequences if I chose a sedentary lifestyle. For example, 90% of women over the age of 60 (I believe) cannot lift 10lbs or more above their head. This statistic alone has motivated me to add weight lifting into my exercise routine. Starting this school year, I had zero upper body strength. Now, almost three months into the semester, there is clear definition and muscle appearing on my arms (and not in the bulky, masculine way).
In class, we learned all about target heart rate zones and the general rules of thumb for a productive and beneficial workout. Stacey had us perform a series of cardiovascular labs utilizing a heart rate monitor to see just what activities provide what kind of caloric expenditure and how effective they are in our efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Personally, by combining the use of the heart rate monitor as well as my new knowledge of these workout tips mentioned in class, I have been so far successful in my own endeavors. Although it may not show on the scale (which I would not know, I have yet to step on a scale since before the school year started), I physically feel more confident with my body. My jeans are starting to feel loose and like I mentioned before, my arms are showing results more than anything.
So, I know society has this idea engraved in many people’s heads that women need to be tiny twigs and what not, but in reality, you just have to live an active life. Exercising 3-5 days a week for a total of 150 minutes of moderate exercise can significantly reduce your chance of developing so many different diseases in your future. Even if you are the smallest person weight wise, if you don’t exercise or eat right, that doesn’t mean you’re safe from these diseases. That doesn’t mean that body builders with muscle on top of muscle on top of muscle are safe either. Chances are, these bodybuilders are ingesting or taking in chemicals and other substances that are detrimental to their health and may ultimately cut their lives short. Now, I’m not an expert in exercise, this is just common sense if you really think about it, as well as things I have learned in some of my classes.
Ultimately, I exercise for me and my health. I want to live my life to the fullest. This means that I want to be able to live until my final days running around and being me; not being reduced to a wheelchair or a hospital bed like so many individuals are. In order to do this, I need to take the initiative now to develop the habits that will ultimately follow me into my life after college. I am my own motivation; I am why I work out.