Managing expectations

Managing expectations

When you’re eating well and working out really hard and not seeing the changes you want, it’s easy to get discouraged. When that’s combined with what seems like a constant bombardment of largely unrealistic images of super svelte fitness models the temptation to throw in the towel is almost too strong.

As a blogger and an avid reader of all things fitness in general, I’m constantly surrounding myself with images and stories of people who appear to be perfectly healthy all the time. Any time I slip up and don’t push out that last rep or say yes to that glass of wine, I feel like I’m bursting my own bubble and not living up to my own expectations.

Some days I look in the mirror and I feel extremely proud of my body. I get excited when I see new muscle definition and my husband has caught me admiring my guns on several occasions 😉

Yet there are other times, often mere hours after I have felt proud of my body, that I don’t like what I see looking back at me. I feel disappointed that, although my muscles have grown significantly, my stomach has also gotten fatter. Even though I train as hard as I can, I convince myself that I could do more. Even though I eat clean the vast majority of the time, I tell myself that I need to be stricter.

Last week Nicky Jankovic, an Australian figure competitor and fitness model, posted a blog about the importance of striving towards manageable body fat goals. Her blog was so refreshing because it reminded me that an average woman who eats clean and trains hard should still have a body fat percentage of around 20-25 per cent. Female fitness models are around 14-18 per cent, while competitors get to 8-12 per cent – a level which is completely unsustainable outside of a contest prep period and only obtained by basically starving the body for months on end.

Nicky Jankovic

In a move that I have never seen from a fitness model before, Nicky posted a picture of herself at 23 per cent body fat and 71 kilos (156 pounds). I almost cried when I saw this as this is just slightly more than where I’m at now. It’s rare to see female fitness models looking less than shredded so I respect her so much for doing so. Then it hit me: I think she looks absolutely beautiful and healthy, yet my current body composition is incredibly similar to hers, so shouldn’t I then see myself as beautiful and healthy as well?

Nicky off-season

Earlier that same day I’d found out that Miranda Kerr was the exact same height as me….but supposedly weighed 20 kilos less than me. I immediately felt like a balloon but also knew that I would not look good if I was the same weight as her. Even though I know I should not be comparing myself to others based on the numbers on a scale, it’s hard not to let statistics like that have a negative impact on my mood.

Miranda post-baby, so perhaps slightly heavier...

It’s okay to not look like a fitness model all the time. Sure, some people have amazing metabolisms or have the best discipline in the world so they can constantly maintain a low body fat percentage, but for regular people like me it’s not a crime if I’m not at 15 per cent body fat year-round. Keep in mind that it can be done, though – just because you’re not there at the moment doesn’t mean you won’t get there when you need to. In the meantime, try to focus on the end goal you are striving for and not let every-day fluctuations get you down.

Do you suffer from poor body image when comparing yourself to fitness models or competitors? Or are you proud of your body regardless?

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