Healthy body beats magazine-ready one

» Jenelle grewell –

Three years ago I decided I wanted to be healthier. I got a contract with a local gym and a few personal trainer appointments to help me get started.

My boyfriend at the time reacted to the news by saying,“I don’t want you to go to the gym because if you lose weight men might actually find you attractive and I would have competition.”

I wish I could say I dumped him right then and there. But I cannot. Instead, I stayed with him a few more confidence-destroying months and let him bring me down for my weight quite frequently. There was a time when I thought no one would ever find me beautiful because, for me, it is not a situation where I can just go to the gym and suddenly come out looking like a Victoria’s Secret Angel.

If you take one look at either side of my family you can see I am genetically predisposed to larger breasts, hips and thighs on a 5-foot frame. Most women in my family are very health conscious; they exercise and eat right yet they carry extra weight in their hips and thighs.

According to an article titled “Where do women lose weight first?” by Becky Miller on, “if you genetically have wide hips, you may have trouble losing weight in that area.” She goes on to explain people who are genetically predisposed to wider hips will more than likely never see themselves with a narrow frame.

I blamed genetics for my lack of attractiveness and confidence when in actuality my now-ex and my lack of love for myself were to blame. When my ex and I broke up, it was a matter of me finally being tired of him walking all over me and he was not too happy with my decision.

I came to love myself when I realized a lot of women, no matter their size or shape, feel like they are not beautiful. I also came to realize different men like different things. There will be a man out there who finds my wide hips sexy. I have come to the conclusion as long as I am healthy, my jean size does not matter.

I am now with someone who loves my body and never brings me down. I have come to accept my body for what it is. But I am not going to say I am always confident. That is far from the truth. I still feel pressures and judgment for my size.

One of the times I feel the most pressure is when I go shopping. Most high fashion places do not sell clothes in plus sizes. It is hard hitting when I walk into a store to find they stop making jeans at a certain size. Why do I have to settle for something less because of my wide hips?

Styles also come into play when shopping. A lot of trendy clothes make me look stumpy or even bigger. I feel like I cannot break out of a mold when it comes to my style. When I see my size zero or two friends walk in with a cute, new outfit that would make me look like a circus tent, my stomach burns with envy.

Speaking of my friends who range from size zero to four, they are the most beautiful women, but for some reason, they themselves have body issues.

When my friend who is a size four looks at herself and calls herself fat, I want to throw up. It hurts. If she thinks of herself as fat, then I must be Shamu to her.

But I swallow my urge to vomit, and remember society puts a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way. Just look at our celebrities and magazine advertisements. That is an impossible standard to be held to for the average person.

I also hate it when people automatically assume I am lazy and out of shape because of my size. I was on the varsity swim team for half of high school and when I transferred to schools that did not have swim teams, I did community teams. I swim for my job, enjoy walks and do workout videos. Just because I am not “skinny” does not mean I will pass out if I attempt a jumping jack.

Even though I have transcended into a new place of confidence and acceptance with my body, I still feel pressures and insecurities about myself sometimes. But these negative feelings come from what society expects of me.

However, I know I am not alone. I know most young women are right next to me feeling the same pressures. When I think of this, I hold my head high. I tell myself I am beautiful, just like every woman is in her own way. As long as I am healthy, why should the size of dress or the numbers on the scale matter? TAS

6-pack sporters miss big picture

» andy wolf –

Let’s face it. Every person is different. People have, throughout history, come in different shapes and sizes. Some of us are products of genetics, some are products of having too much or too little. Some of us are products of discipline, or lack thereof. That’s just how it is.

I will be the first to tell you at 24, I look nowhere as good as when I was 19. Time, combat, a couple of breakups and stress will do that to a guy. I used to be able to eat anything I wanted and never gain an ounce. I could run two miles in 14 minutes flat and do push-ups until dawn. These days, I am about 5’10, 168 pounds and absolutely disgusted with myself.

I’m not saying I’m morbidly obese, but man, do I complain. Looking in the mirror is now somewhat of a chore and although everyone I know tells me I need to gain weight, I look a little more slovenly every time I look at my own reflection. So where is the disconnect?

The issue isn’t so much body image, but my own perception of it and the culture and experiences from which that perception is derived. I was raised in a culture where unhealthy people were liabilities.

When I joined the military, I found my way into the Airborne Infantry. In a place like that, being out of shape could get you or your buddies killed, so people were essentially bullied to stay in shape and meet standards. In that environment, that is how it should be. If you scored below 70 percent on a fitness test, you risked being kicked out of the Airborne and were relegated to being a common foot soldier in a regular unit.

The risk of shame is the greatest of motivators.

Before you start thinking I am on a vendetta against those packing extra pounds, let me tell the other side of the story. I love to exercise, but I hate the gym.

Why? Because of the same groups of guys I see in there day after day, downing all kinds of supplements while fantasizing about themselves pumping iron and grunting in the mirror. In my various high-risk careers, I have found it is the big guys with all the muscle that cannot run under fire for long periods or handle crawling through a burning building.

I laugh at the thought of “The Situation” working as a private military contractor. I have no desire to look like that, I want just the right amount of strength and endurance to succeed.

Yet, culture tells us we need to have a six-pack. Sometimes, I think the point is missed because we often look to unrealistic expectations of what the ideal condition of the human body should be. I often catch myself buying into it, as well.

I see a lot of people in one day. Some of them are quite rotund, some of them are muscle-heads and some are so skinny they remind me of emaciated prisoners of war. Everyone has their idea of what they should look like. Usually, it is based off the ideas of others.

By the way, I noticed in many developed and developing regions of the world, fat people are culturally more attractive than skinny people. Why? Because obesity shows decadence. We, as Americans, live in a society with so much excess even poor people are fat. Think about that for a second.

The bottom line, boys and girls, is maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet is essential. Being anorexic is not ok, nor is being obese. However, we’ve come to the point where we are more obsessed with aesthetics than function.

A car can look as fast as it wants, but without a good engine under the hood it is of little value.

Be it the morbidly obese, the “little extras” or the skeleton-framed women and top-heavy bodybuilders who can neither function regularly nor actually have any real confidence or self-esteem, we all need to check our boundaries from time to time.

At the end of the day, we are all animals.

When push comes to shove, only the fittest and smartest survive. I don’t know, maybe I’m old school, but I’m all about survival. TAS