Here is the amazing Marianne Vos, who is in the kind of shape that most of us will never be in.
The pursuit of this kind of conditioning is impossible for the average person. People like Marianne devote large portions of their lives to their sport. The kind of training they do is above and beyond. They do not train to this level when they are not competing. Most people stop competing in most sports by the time they are forty.
There seems to be a push for everyone to be constantly toned and athletic to the degree of people who are in competitive sports–or at least we should all appear this way. This obsession is unrealistic and unhealthy.
The average person should not expect themselves to be in the kind of shape that a competition class athlete is.
While pursuing optimal health is an excellent goal, no-one should be shamed for not doing so. We all have different strengths and weaknesses and different interests.
Some people love to run. I’ll push myself to go a mile around the track three times a week in good weather. I kind of like it. Maybe some people stare at the fat man running. I don’t know, nor do I particularly care. Most of the other runners pass me. I’ve never had any of them say anything to me, which may be because they don’t want to challenge someone of my size. I’m six foot three and weigh somewhere around 330 pounds.
I run three times a week, possibly because I’ve been doing so since I was a kid. At this point in my life, I prefer hiking. When the weather’s good, I like to get out for a hike every weekend. I do go to the gym and do some strength training a couple of times a week, and I love working out in the pool. I love it more and more the older I get! I don’t mean to imply that water workouts are only for the elderly; they are for whoever enjoys them. But as we age, wear and tear on the joints tends to make a workout in water more appealing because it is a very low to non-impact exercise, depending on whether you are doing shallow water aerobics, swimming, or deep water aerobics.
Perhaps the point that I’m trying to make is this: I’m a reasonably active guy, who is reasonably good health. I do have GERD, which I have under control thanks to my good friend Prilosec and steering away from very spicy foods. These days I take my green chili mild.
Nevertheless, I’m still big. Granted, I do not diet obsessively–in fact, I don’t diet at all. Like everyone else here, I was a longtime yo-yo dieter. I now try to choose foods that are less processed and have a good nutrient profile, but I’m nowhere near obsessive about it. I admit to enjoying an organic cheeseburger for lunch once or twice a week. I’m fortunate that I live in an area where organic food is easy to obtain. Not everyone has this luxury.
We have the right to shame absolutely no-one for not being in competition-class athletic shape. We do not even have the right to shame the “stereotypical fatty” who sits in front of the TV chowing down on an entire bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken all by zirself and chasing it with a 2 liter Coke and a dozen Moon Pies for dessert. Shame does not work to make people skinny, it only works to make them miserable.
Exercise should be pleasant, not punitive. Life should be pleasant, not punitive. The one thing we all need to reduce is instances where we have been unkind to others. Some of us need a little sanctimoniousness reduction, some need a lot. Let’s all get started today!