Hannah Chima discusses the increasing awareness of physical strength
It seems that there has been a general shift in what people are aiming to achieve from their exercise and diet. Where for a long time, there was a desire to be super-slim, perhaps lacking in body fat as a result of eating the bare minimum, this is now not so much the case. Social media has reformed the way individuals portray themselves: there’s now a wealth of instagrammers who are looking to be well-nourished, fit and strong.
It goes without saying that everyone is different in body shape and also what they deem to be most attractive, but is this shift in perceptions of the ‘ideal’ body actually centred around aesthetics? There’s evidence to say that over-exercising places too much stress on your body and that these fad diets – that keep you buying an XS – are actually harmful to your insides. At the end of the day, a fuller, more toned figure is easier to maintain. It seems that more is the new less…?
Evidently, this is heavily led by social media and what celebrities are endorsing, but at the same time we must remember that whatever they manage to achieve is probably virtually impossible – as they invest heavily in personal trainers and occupy much of their time exercising – something which might not attainable for the average individual. It is much easier to tone and sculpt the body as opposed to (unless you’re blessed with a fast metabolism) dedicating hours to magically remove all body fat. After all, a lifestyle with the goal of achieving a slimmer figure is hard to stick to and can also give rise to health implications, such as exhaustion.
So what do people do to get this season’s look? Don’t get me wrong, to look healthy and feel good, we generally have to eat healthily. But everyone likes a treat of course, and this is very clear from those prominent in the fitness field who are not ashamed to admit that they treat themselves. It’s completely okay to have that glass of wine in the evening (or a bottle, we’re university students, so let’s be realistic), or a tub of ice-cream… I believe that the harder we are on ourselves, the easier it is to fall short and give up.
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A couple of years ago it was pretty unusual to see a woman in the weights room but nowadays it’s far more common – although it’s still fairly male dominated 🚹 Today, after finishing a set of chin ups, a man turned around to me and said “you’re pretty strong for a girl”, first of all mate, I’m a woman 💅🏽 and second of all who said females can’t be just as strong as men? 💪🏼 Yes we may be anatomically smaller built humans, and physiologically find it a bit more difficult to build muscle, but that doesn’t make us weak. Furthermore, what really gets my goat is gender specific workouts – I mean you would never see a male ‘booty guide’ or ‘bingo wing blaster’ but female targeted workouts are always focused on changing our bodies. This is not to say men don’t get pressurised into looking a certain way, but let’s be honest, there’s not half the amount of focus on appearance, but more so on performance and strength. Men and women can train exactly the same way – you don’t need to have a beard to bench press and you don’t need to have a pair of ovaries to do yoga. *Mic drop* 💁🏽 Wearing @reebokwomenuk #thefoodmedic #hazelwallace #thefoodmedicbook #Thefoodmedicworkout
If you’re a fairly active individual, and walk a fair amount (and for students, walking definitely has the incentive of saving money!) then a few sessions a week, largely consisting of weights but involving some cardio, can do the trick. This is what fitness enthusiastic, @thefoodmedic, recommends this and comments on her Instagram: “what you really need to do is maximize your available training time so you achieve the best results”. Trying to combine weights with cardio to keep cardio interesting, is ideal to achieve a toned, fuller figure.
I know social media conceals a lot of reality; however I do follow select individuals interested in fitness and health accounts on Instagram. Made in Chelsea star, Louise Thompson, is a good example of this. I am in awe of the amazing food she eats, and it is evident from her Instagram that the woman can eat! However, she works out a lot and looks healthy and strong. Go and follow Instagram accounts or celebrities, if you fancy some inspiration. I personally find it encouraging and motivational to see what they eat, how they exercise, and what they do to treat themselves.
Ultimately, getting into good shape doesn’t mean you have to be hard on yourself all the time. Everyone is different and still, some celebrities, prefer a slimmer shape. Nevertheless, I actually like this new idea of a ‘dream body’ emerging and because it’s more natural it’s therefore easier to achieve. Is this trend is here to stay? I guess time will tell, but let’s hope it doesn’t fall out of fashion as fast as last season’s clothes.
Featured image credit: The Food Medic