“Strong is the new skinny” is a trendy phrase traveling around the Internet via personal blogs, fitness site articles and even Pinterest pins.
To be clear: There’s absolutely nothing wrong having a naturally thin body type. But if starving and obsessively over-exercising is the only way you can attain a lanky physique, it might be time to change your body image ideal. Because that’s a really hard way to live, and you deserve better.
You do. Think about it. Maybe you can work on being strong, and be happy about having muscles showing, rather than ribs. Maybe you can stop obsessing about every calorie you put in your mouth, and instead focus on eating healthfully. Maybe your particular body wasn’t designed to be willowy and ultra-lean.
And maybe that’s okay. Really… it is. Relax. Not everybody is supposed to look the same, and our differences are what make us interesting and beautiful, so why do we try so hard to become the same tired “runway model” archetype? Haven’t we evolved past this mentality of physical conformation?
It’s hard to change years of media brainwashing and negative self-talk, but focusing on having a healthy body rather than reaching a certain number on the scale is a great way to start. Below are 5 reasons being strong is smarter than starving:
1. Because Muscle Mass Raises Metabolism—
That’s right! The more muscle you have, the more you can eat while maintaining a healthy weight. And the more you can eat, the more opportunities you have to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your immune system strong, and everything else working well.
Muscle also weighs much more than fat, so ignore the scale, pay attention to how your clothes fit, and trust the mirror to reflect your progress.
2. Because You Can Be a Good Influence—
Women look up to other females who are self-assured, and being proud of your body is a great way to make a positive impact on others; especially young girls.
By embracing your physical appearance and focusing on making it stronger and healthier, rather than putting emphasis on changing the way you look, you’ll set a great example for everyone around you.
And really, self-confidence is an incredibly attractive quality, so be proud of who you are no matter what shape you’re currently taking.
3. Because You Will Live Longer—
Cardio exercise is wonderful for your health, and even 30 minutes a day 4-5 times a week will decrease your risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But because so many studies have proven the benefits of strength training, doctors now recommend a blend of both types of exercise for maximum health.
Increased longevity is a benefit of strengthening your body, and better quality of life will carry you into your older years, so be sure to add some form of resistance to all workouts.
4. Because Superhero Bones Trump Bird Bones—
Increased bone mineral density is the top benefit strength training has to offer over all other types of exercise, as resistance lightly breaks down collagen in bones so they build themselves back up stronger than before during healing, similar to the way muscles form.
Because we lose bone mineral density at a much higher rate as we age, some form of weightlifting or resistance training is especially recommended for anyone over 40.
5. Because It’s No Fun to Get Hurt—
People who strength train as a part of a regular exercise program are less likely to get injured because they’ve got stronger bones and a layer of protective muscle built up around themselves.
If you’re in an accident, your additional muscle and bone density may be the difference between minor versus major injuries; but even on a daily basis, extra strength will prevent muscle and tendon strains and give you better balance.
It’s difficult to find self-acceptance when our culture constantly glorifies underweight women in magazines and on television. Women are taught to believe fat is the enemy, and being thin is the pinnacle of perfection – often developing eating disorders when they can’t achieve such unrealistic beauty ideals.
Because the average woman is not skinny, this cultural obsession with thinness can also lead to feelings of inadequacy, failure, and a sense of “never being enough” sadly residing where self-confidence should live.
It’s time to stop the cycle of idolizing weakness and frailty, and start teaching girls that whether they are naturally thin, average, curvy, or voluptuous, the sexiest thing any woman can be is strong, both inside and out.
Ashley Freeman is a professional blogger that shares motivational tips and advice for health and nutrition. She writes for Fitness 19, a leading fitness facility with affordable month to month memberships.