A little while back I asked on my Facebook account, "What does 'being fit' mean to you? What does it look like? Feel like?" I was very curious to hear what my friends and family had to say. I know that for myself, I used to judge my level of fitness completely on what size clothes I could fit into and how I looked in a bathing suit. I have since grown to know and understand that "being fit" has a much deeper meaning, however I wasn't exactly sure how to put into words an exact definition.
Therefore, I reached out to all of you and I got an awesome array of responses! Some of my favorites included statements such as:
"Being fit to me means that I'm not inhibited by my body."
"Being able to play with and carry my daughter around with ease and without pain."
"Being fit to me means I can unpack an entire trunk full of loaded grocery bags in 1 trip."
"Being able to put my shoes and socks on while standing up instead of sitting down."
"Identifying yourself as 'fit' is, I think, inseparable from a more general sense of capability and potential. You feel confident and empowered and able. You're not nervous about learning new skills or trying out a new class. If a friend invites you to try trampolining or skiing or whatever for the first time, you jump at the chance, or at least you're open to it. You are 1000x more likely to ask yourself 'can I do that?' rather than automatically telling yourself 'I can't do that.'"
(That last one was from our very own super star coach, Maureen!)
I was SO thrilled to read these responses! Another participant on the thread pointed out that it is relative and depends on your goals - which was clearly displayed in the variety of responses. For some, it's the simple things like playing with your kids or being able to carry groceries with ease. For others it's the ability to go after physical challenges no matter how big or overwhelming they may seem.
My absolute favorite part about reading all of them was that they all related to physical capabilities rather than body size or shape. Everyone who posted that day said that they based their level of fitness on their ability to complete tasks that they want to complete.
And then an interesting thing happened...
I began having conversations with people in person, rather than on a public forum such as facebook, and I started hearing a slightly different story. Some people told me that they had to spend a long time talking themselves out of writing that being fit meant being healthy and able, but also it meant being able to wear a certain pant size. Or that being fit also meant feeling comfortable in a bathing suit. Many people wanted to say that to them, being fit was partly about their physical appearance, but they felt uncomfortable putting that out there.
This definitely made me stop and think, and it took me a little while to figure out how to interpret it. After having struggled with body image for a lot of my life, I want nothing more than for the people I love and care about to never have to go through that. I talk a lot about how we should be more focused on our abilities in the gym rather than our waist size. But I had to stop and wonder if it's fair for me to dismiss someone whose goals might be more image-based. Just because someone wants to look good in a bikini, doesn't mean they're struggling with body image issues. It might just mean that at that moment in time, it's something they'd like to work on! After all, as was pointed out in the facebook thread, everyone's definition of "being fit" will be different depending on their goals. If someone's goal is to look great in a bikini, should they feel less validated because it's an image-based goal rather than ability-based?
My little social experiment got me exactly what I wanted. A new perspective and a new understanding that I should be more open to everyone's individual definition of fitness. For some, (myself included) the ability to let go of the attachment of a certain image with fitness has been a freeing and life-changing experience. For others, the desire to look a certain way overrides the desire to deadlift a lot of weight. Both things are OKAY! When we stop trying to fit people into the boxes we've created, we can start helping more people reach their goals and find happiness within themselves.
After hearing everyone's responses and taking in lots of different perspectives, I have come to my own definition of what "being fit" means to me. It may (in fact it most definitely will) change as I evolve and grow, but for now, this is the best I could come up with:
"Being fit means taking on new challenges with courage and confidence. It means true happiness with my accomplishments, and the constant pursuit of new achievements. It is the ability to do what I love with ease, and to fearlessly step out of my comfort zone when necessary."
I'd love to hear your definitions! Leave them in the comments section below! :)