Part 2 of Living a healthy lifestyle
Posts where women are flexing their biceps, showing their abs, lifting heavy weights and drinking protein shakes are currently flooding social media. Everyone wants to highlight that they are strong and not skinny. Women don't have to starve and do hours of cardio to attract followers on Instagram, but need to have a defined six pack and post videos squatting their own body weight.
Doesn't sound too bad, does it? An article by The Insider about a new fitness selfie trend made me think. Is #strongisthenewskinny not just another objectification of a female body? Is this what #bodypositivity should be like? Does this lead to a healthy lifestyle for women or could it be a cause of the increasing hormonal imbalances women face today?
Let's talk some facts:
To see defined abs in a female body, the body fat percentage (BFP) needs to be between 16-19%. The lower the more visible your six pack will get and the more likes you score on your Instagram post. This range is below the recommended and healthy BFP of 20-25% for females.
Fats are, simplified, the structural component of many hormones in our body, especially the sex hormones (progesterone, estrogen, testosterone). In other words, we need a certain amount of fat to enable our bodies proper functioning. This partly explains why many professional female athletes with a BFP far below from 20% suffer from period irregularities and even amenorrhea. We could even ask whether there is a connection between PCOS (policystic ovary syndrom) and athletes but that's a bit similar to the chicken and egg question.
The article mentioned earlier in this post talks about fitness selfies and how fitness influencers on Instagram cut off their heads or hide their face when doing a selfie. The focus shifts from the woman on the picture to only her body - her abs, her peach shaped booty, her bicep! Isn't that just another objectification of the female human?
A couple of decades ago, only female athletes such as heptathletes or gymnasists, had those abs of steel and they did a hell of a workout every day. Now, every second women is striving for an athlete body, increasing their workouts from week to week and reducing carbohydrates to finally get an ab definition. We can read interviews with fitness stars where they proclaim in order to become fit and healthy they workout everyday, sometime even more than once.
I also found this very interesting article from Dr. Axe about the Female Athlete Triad, where he talks about a syndrome caused by too much exercise and too little food, mostly occurring in women.
Do we want to become an athlete, with irregular periods, maybe suffer from over-training, out of balance thyroid and adrenal gland functionality? Should we skip quality time with our friends and family just because we need to build muscles in the gym? Or do we want to get healthy and really start spreading #bodypositivity?
I'm not saying that weight lifting and women starting to eat more and get stronger is a bad development. But we have to be careful that it doesn't turn into a new restrictive way of living our lives. Let me know your thoughts about this - maybe I'm seeing all this too black and white. But as always with my articles, the above made statements are my opinion and might not be true for every athlete. It should stimulate your thoughts about living a healthy lifestyle vs showing your abs and cutting off your head!