Thursday, March 26, 2009

Finding the right role model

I think I have come to terms with the fact that my thighs just aren’t going to look like those of the fitness magazine models. Now the fact that I actually compare my thighs to those of fitness models as opposed to catwalk models is a step in the right direction. It’s taken years for me to accept that very thin just isn’t going to happen and I began dreaming more of strong, hence the fitness models. Except I have hips and the aforementioned thighs which don’t grace the pages of the glossy magazines very often. A heavily pregnant friend said on the weekend that at this point she has come to accept her hips after hearing about the complications that her more petite friends suffered during natural childbirth. I can definitely see that at 8.5 months pregnant I would also accept my hips as a blessing rather than a curse! But what about now?

On Tuesday for the second consecutive week (pat on the back given) I went to the body balance class at the local gym. The usual trainer appeared but instead of yoga pants she wore a tiny tennis skirt with shorts underneath. At that point I thought of what the guys who think that body balance is ‘for girls’ were missing out on. Now this woman has muscles everywhere and these were emphasised like never before. Having realigned my thinking over the years to ‘strong is good’ I was impressed but figured that being a personal trainer she had probably always been into exercise hence the muscles.

After the class I went up and asked a question about technique and we eventually got chatting. It turned out that this trainer had joined the gym a few years prior overweight and desperate to get fit. At some point she got hooked and began working at the gym. Seeing her enthusiasm the staff suggested that she become a personal trainer. Fast forward a few years and we see a woman with unlimited enthusiasm for health and fitness. In my own experience of the last few months I can definitely see the spell that exercise and health can weave over your body. So I found her story inspiring on account of her transformation, which provides hope that a person can walk away from what they once were. But this is supposed to be about role models right? So despite the loftier ideas that can be taken away, I’m going to point out the more shallow ones – muscles.

A male colleague of mine was absolutely obsessed with muscle. He only had one problem, the fact that no matter how much he lifted he struggled to create the bulk that he dreamed of. His reasoning was that because his metabolism was so fast, he couldn’t store fat that is required for muscle bulk. By this reasoning, I am much more likely to end up with a pronounced muscular body which is the way it’s going. I have no trouble building muscle, hence the size of my thighs.

So how does this relate to the trainer? In what is an unfortunate reality, the trainer doesn’t have the physic that is so typical of fitness magazines, even though her strength is what I admired so much. For me, this highlighted the importance of finding the right role model that reflects what I can realistically achieve in a healthy way. As far as I can see this is the only way I can be happy with my body at the end of my own transformation. Finding the right physic to emulate can be very difficult because the ideal is so generic and my body, no matter how well trained will most likely lie outside of that ideal. I like that I now have a clearer picture in my mind that a strong muscular body can be beautiful while being outside of the ideal. I will probably always have bigger thighs than my husband but after that body balance class, I’m beginning to think that maybe that’s ok.

How about you, do you have great role models? Where did you find them? Or do you know anything further about the fat/muscle thing? I would love to know more.


  1. That's so great that you're looking less to fashion models for inspiration and more to "real" women. Our bodies are all so different! I guess my role models are more about a particular attitude and determination and less about the exact shape of their bodies. I'm like you--I admire strength, whether it's muscular strength or strength of character.

  2. I think my best role models have been the real amazing wonderful people I've come into contact with since starting my blog. As much as I admire a strong, fit, athletic body, I respond the most to positive outlooks, determination and a healthy dose of humor.

  3. I think toned is much better than stick thin. I like your attitude never compare yourself to anyone. Only brings you down. Keep up the great work!

  4. I don't think it's good to try to look like anybody - we all are so different. It's much better to focus on being the best we ourselves can be be. And I think a person's inner self, rather than what they look like, is what really makes them a role model.



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