It's interesting, actually, how much we allow our definition of "fit" and "healthy" to be manipulated by the media. I don't think this is anything new, to be honest - for years advertisers and ad executives have been "reflecting" (I would argue that they are actually "directing") and therefore perpetuating an infatuation with an image of what healthy is supposed to look like. And, thankfully, there seems to be the beginning of a pendulum swing back, a backlash against the creation of this impossible ideal (and for what it's worth, guys, it's not only the ladies who are getting sucked into this). I wrote about it a couple of weeks ago ("Don't Chase an Image"), and a couple of days ago Sasha linked to another great article about the dangers of the whole "Fitspo" trend ("Why 'Fitspiration' Isn't so Inspirational"). And if you don't feel like reading the articles, take five minutes to watch the following video, from Jean Kilbourne's"Killing us Softly":
I can say as a trainer and coach, as well, that it's exceedingly frustrating when someone we're working with achieves a new benchmark, a personal best that's a physical accomplishment beyond anything they've achieved so far, and all they can say is "yes, but I still have this roll here". In fact, it's heartbreaking - to have someone who is unable to celebrate because they don't look like an airbrushed and photoshopped fitness model or celebrity.
I say "enough". Let's stop focusing on what we look like, and start setting our goals on physical accomplishments that reflect something more than whether or not we look "ripped" or have a "six pack". Yes, weight loss may be the first step - because it might be what's needed in order to accomplish your first 10km run, or it might be that you need it in order to reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease, or simply because we want to move better and live a long, quality life. What is irrelevant to this is whether or not we have washboard abs, well defined shoulders or the dangerously misdirected "thigh gap".
Leave the image. Dare to achieve.