Originally published on www.butterflyconsultations.com on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
One of my favorite things to do when traveling (and I travel often) is to people watch. People fascinate me – how the dress, act, look, and interact with each other. On a recent trip I couldn’t help but notice a few things about the women that I saw and it made me wonder if what our society is missing could be as simple as a redefinition of normality.
When it comes to physical appearances, I probably ‘check out’ more women than an adolescent boy. I believe that it is a professional requirement – keeping up with trends, body image, composition and attitudes that women extend to both themselves and others. What I noticed during this trip is that there seemed to be very few women that I would classify as ‘normal’ when it comes to weight and body composition. And what I classify as normal for women is somewhere between 21% and 30% body fat and for men, between 10% and 20%. These are healthy levels and should be what society deems normal as far as weight goes. What the scale says and what those dreaded BMI charts in the doctor’s office say should be irrelevant – as should 95% of models and celebrities we see touted as the ‘ideal’ figure as most are so below the healthy body fat level it is scary.
When I was looking at the women around me, I saw some very disturbing things – either I was looking at women who were visibly overweight or obese or women so incredibly low in body fat that I could see protruding bones. Neither of these extremes are healthy or should be acceptable to any woman concerned about health and longevity. It isn’t about appearance – it isn’t about what size looks good in the latest fashions – it is about what is healthy and anything to an extreme is not.
Beyond our appearances, let’s take a look at behaviors. I have clients that come to me looking for some reason why their 0% fat diet or their Carb-free diet isn’t working for them or why their 12 vitamin supplement and 900 calorie a day diet isn’t getting them the results they seek. And the same answer is my reply to all of them – we need balance in your life. In what we do, what we eat, what we drink and how we look. Women are meant to have body fat – at least 20% – it is how we are made to look, made to reproduce, made to live. Our bodies are made to utilize fat, carbs and proteins to achieve optimal performance and health – amazingly enough, we need 55% of our calories to come from complex carbs every day and between 20-25% of those calories to come from naturally sourced fats. Is it really that surprising that our bodies won’t work or look the way they are supposed to when we cut either of those out?
My fitness clients are also shocked when they realize that muscle-bound bodies, 6-pack abs and not an ounce to jiggle isn’t mine and shouldn’t be their fitness goals either, because even exercise can be taken to an extreme and do more damage than good. Professional athletes – especially women who work their bodies into a rock-hard machine, dropping body fat in exchange for muscle and touting 6-8% body fat like many Olympic Calorie athletes do, shouldn’t be the ideal figure for our fitness goals. At those levels, while performing like well trained machines, our bodies will not function right – women can sacrifice not only their outward signs of femininity such as breasts, hips and curves, but may also run the risk of reducing their ability to reproduce with lack of menstruation, inability to lactate and so-on.
the first thing I do with a new client is to encourage them to through out their bathroom scales – weight means NOTHING – it has nothing to do with health and it shouldn’t be how we set our goals. We should be focusing on body fat and general health – getting our bodies to function properly and in balance so that they can do what they are designed to do. Extreme behavior promotes extreme results and when it comes to health – extremes are never a good thing.
Let’s start focus sing on the middle ground, looking good to ourselves, feeling great about ourselves and doing what we need to do to balance our lives in every way possible – Emotionally, Mentally, Physically & Spiritually. Only when we are in balance will we be able to see who we were truly meant to be, as individuals and as a society.