Is Strong the New Skinny?

"Way to get out there!” That’s the message my watch chirped as I rounded the corner on my street, slowing my run down to a walk. My legs were burning and I was in love with the tingling sensation of accomplishment and endorphins. I'll admit it, I am one of those crazy people who loves to get active.

As a member of the mental health profession, I am a firm believer that for the average person, a sweat a day keeps the depression away. If nothing else, it leaves your body stronger and challenges your mindset as you work toward achieving your goals. So, you can imagine my enthusiasm as I began to see a new trend emerging that "strong is the new skinny."

I see strong, muscular, toned bodies being pinned left and right as well as posted on Facebook as inspiration. I could see how the CrossFit revolution (a primitive, back-to-basics, less-than-glamorous approach to exercise that has taken the fitness world by storm) had made its mark, and I was a fan. I am thrilled to see the shared excitement over full-figured thighs that say, "I sweat for this, I am strong, and I totally kick butt." As I looked closely at the abundant images for inspiration and the chiseled abs that go with those pictures, however, I began to wonder if this was becoming the new skinny. Is this the new perfect ideal to obsess over and never meet? Will women not only feel pressure to be free of any fat on our bodies, but now have to be muscular as well?

I look at some of these photos and can't help but think, "Wow, she looks absolutely amazing, but her strong does not look like my strong, nor will it ever." I don't mean that as a negative remark aimed to keep me from my potential, but rather as a realistic acceptance of what healthy and happy is for my unique body. Like many fitness fads, I wonder if this has the potential to become more about outward appearances and less about true health. It occurs to me that this is a great reminder to check our intentions.

So yes, get active, get healthy, and set challenging goals! But most importantly, do it for your own good. When your fitness goals become more about everyone else and less about you, it becomes an open door for trouble to walk in and shake its ugly, critical head. Let's just try and focus on “healthy being the new healthy.” Yeah, I think I'm feeling that.

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