Exercising - health trend or epidemic?

 

I have awoken many a morning to an Instagram feed of impressive looking female bodies and their workouts alongside wonderfully crafted images of their beautifully aesthetic diets. Inside me would stir a sense of impending dread and of obligation as my thoughts urged me to turn towards the idea of that widely dreaded activity: exercise.

 

Once the idea is there, the guilt remains there for the rest of the day unless the exercise box has been ticked. This sounds healthy right? A sure way to maintain your overall fitness and therefore a healthy mind. But I offer an alternate idea; that the dissatisfaction and disappointment that it is so easy to feel when in a cycle that insists upon pushing your body regularly is interrupted is not conducive to a happy, healthy mindset. To those with regular feelings of shame and regret caused by an absence of muscle pain I say that yes, that workout would probably have been good for your body in the long run but in the short run, you enjoyed that chocolate bar. I also suggest you think of those (possibly your current self) who complain of not having their daily ‘fix’ when referring to the ‘e’ word and just think; who needs a fix unless they're an addict?

 

You must understand that when even I am susceptible to these negative feelings (someone with a love of comfort food and a dislike of exercise that is likely to go unrivalled in the 21st century) then caution with those who can and will resist happy foods and the urge to just have a rest day is necessary. This caution leads me to an issue entirely separate to the previously discussed ‘exercise guilt’, it is flat out overexercising and under eating. My first suspicion grew from the appearance of many of the fitness/ health food bloggers that I followed from what they would call their ‘day 1’, their limbs began to thin and their posts became more frequent and more obsessive. They constantly claimed to be feeling better ‘body and mind’ yet continued to devote more and more of their time and effort to maintaining this specific image of themselves, enlarging muscles and restricting food.

 

Arguably this is an obsession with an image of health. But how long will this new found image of health stand? It should occur to us more often that what is the ‘healthy’ body ideal now was not the ‘’healthy’ body ideal fifty years ago. As fashions change so will our view on whether or not this fad, and it is truly a fad was really good for the body. I argue that just as the women who plucked their eyebrows into a line as thin as a piece of string reverted back to the full and bushy brow, so to will the bizarrely thin waist be replaced with another ideal said to be more healthy. So enjoy the lie in, exercise for fun, and walk around with the assurance that your body type will be ‘in’ at some point in time and it would be a damn shame if you changed it now at the expense of your mental health.