Hampshire Regional YMCA

Eddie Hall, World’s Strongest Man 2017

Eddie Hall, World’s Strongest Man 2017

With so much negativity in the world, we want to make a positive difference in our community. Over the next three months, we’re bringing you the “As You Are” campaign to channel more positivity to our members and the community at large. Each month will focus on a new topic relating back to body image and acceptance. Watch for new things around the Y and on Facebook to help you be more positive, support one another, and overcome the comparison game.

What you’ll see: Facebook and bulletin board posts across from the Y Wellness Center with information and activities you can do. You will also see other messages posted around the Y.

“You are not fat. You have fat. You also have fingernails. You are not fingernails.”

photo of Donna Moore, World’s Strongest Woman

Donna Moore, World’s Strongest Woman

Question: What is “fit”? What is “strong”? Do I need to have big muscles to be strong? Can I be strong or fit and have higher amounts of body fat?

Short answer: YES, you can be fit and have higher amounts of body fat! Fit or fitness is “being in good physical condition, in good health.” Notice there’s nothing in there about body fat, it’s about your health and/or what you can do–using your body to the best of its abilities. You can also be “fit” in one way, and not others: the world’s best marathoner is not the world’s best swimmer! While having more body fat can increase risk for some diseases, more and more research shows that what’s more important for health is how active you are.

What about strength? According to Dictionary.com, strong is “having, showing, or able to exert great bodily or muscular power; physically vigorous or robust”.

This is about your ability, not about how much muscle you’re showing! Yes, more muscle does tend to make for more strength, but not always. Some bodybuilders have a LOT of muscle, but can’t use it effectively. And the amount of body fat you have doesn’t affect your strength–unless you don’t have enough to fuel your body!

photo of Leisel Jones, Australian swimmer with 9 Olympic medals

Leisel Jones, Australian swimmer with 9 Olympic medals

Also remember that we all have different abilities, and just because someone else can do a particular exercise doesn’t mean you “should” be able to. Make sure your fitness goals are reasonable based on where you’re starting. You can be “fit” at 14 or 84 years, you can be strong whether you have four limbs or two, and you can definitely be either (or both!) regardless of your size.

BOTTOM LINE: “Fit” and “strength” don’t have “a look”–people of all sizes, ages, and walks of life can be fit and strong! So stop focusing on “looking fit”, and BE fit instead!