Why Body Ideals Are Ridiculous
Join Serena and I as we have a good laugh about the insanity of body ideals. We won’t tell you to kiss your bat wings goodbye. Nor will we give you an easy answer for muffin tops. What we WILL do is break down why striving to spot reduce is silly and how your time can be better spent in terms of results.
- Serena Intro (0:47)
- The Worst Body Ideals (3:45)
- Why Marketing Body ideas Sucks (7:26)
- The Best Fitness Equipment (9:09)
- Core Strength For Moms (14:16)
- Which Exercises Are Best (17:40)
- One More Tip On Body Ideas (22:10)
- Wrap Up (23:12)
- Mentioned In The Podcast
Welcome to the Fitasamamabear podcast. I’m Shelby, a certified strength coach, nutrition coach mama to two and all-around health nut. This show is about a little bit of everything healthy, fit and natural related. So, if you’re striving to smash goals, eat better, feel better, and enjoy the occasional mom rant, This is the place for you. You’re listening in to episode 16 today where I’m chatting to the face behind the Facebook group life between weights, Serina Sutterfield and a certified trainer and a practicing yoga instructor, and today we are chatting about everything body-related. Thigh gap muffin tops and any other insane name you can come up with.
Hey everyone with me today is Serena, a busy mom of three trying to balance working on building her own business, taking care of her family and just trying to be happy and healthy without all the fluff and gimmicks.
I actually met Serena online on Twitter and we hit it off pretty instantly. We both love weightlifting, taking time to chill the F-out and helping other moms realize the insanity of the training industry.
I asked Serena to be on the right, I asked her because I wanted to chat a bit more in-depth about the craziness related to body ideals and the stress it places on us mamas.
But before we get to that and Serena, why don’t you give us a bit of a rundown on how you got to be where you are and what’s important to you?
I haven’t been an active person my whole entire life. This is something fairly new to me. After I had my third baby, she’s nine now I decided that I needed to feel better for them, for myself and to better be able to take care of them.
So, I started with yoga because I thought that looked pretty easy. It wasn’t.
Nope, it’s not.
I feel like it’s a pretty common misconception.
But after doing yoga for a couple of years, I fell in love with how strong I was getting. It’s all about strength. And then my husband and I started working out together.
And then the better I felt the more I wanted to be able to bring that to other people.
The topic for the podcast is perfect because I so closely relate to it. When I first started on my own fitness journey, I was so bombarded with, “blast your belly” and “you need to be size zero to be pretty”. Trying to navigate and learn all of that misinformation gave me the desire to help other people realize it’s bullshit and kind of help them navigate around it.
Oh my God yes. One biggest pet peeves I ranted about a lot when I was pregnant with both my kids, there’s a pin that circles around that’s called “how to have a belly only pregnancy”. The rage I feel when I see this pin just makes me go freaking eye twitchy. But I’ll try not to rant about that. It seems like every time I’m on Pinterest nowadays there’s a pin telling me about this one exercise that’s going to get rid of my muffin top or the best way to get thigh gap.
And it honestly makes me bat crap crazy. It makes me sick. So why don’t we dive right on in, what are the top body myths that drive you nuts?
I would say the biggest one for me is when other fitness professionals tell people that they can redo their bodies. I feel like as far as like muffin tops and thigh gaps and stuff like that goes it’s frustrating.
You get those trainers who say this is a workout that all slim down your muffin top and there is no science behind it actually. It’s just so faulty. But people use that because they play on females’ insecurity.
They think, “what does the average woman feel self-conscious about? Well, let me make money off of that”.
Yeah. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves too. Especially Because then you have women doing like 9,200 sit-ups a day and wondering why they don’t have abs.
Or the ones where females are told that you need hours of cardio at the gym. Hit the elliptic or a Stairmaster and all of this if you want to drop pounds quickly.
But really strength training and weightlifting is the way to go as far as fat reduction
As I said that one gets me just right fired up because the majority of moms, I work with want that really small toned look.
I’ll save the random chat about how not everyone can get that look simply because there are different body types, but they’re told to do so much cardio. And the way that that look comes about isn’t from cardio. It’s from lifting.
But we’re told so often told that when women shouldn’t lift because you’ll get bulky.
And then another one I would say are the hip dips.
Right below the head of the hip where you get that little indentation and people are telling you, these are the exercises that you can do to fill out these hip dips!
And I tell people, those are your bones. You cannot change your bone. That’s how your femur sits inside of your hip, your skeletal structure. You cannot exercise your bones away.
I actually did a whole thing on it not that long ago because there was just so much going on about these hip dips.
People were messaging me saying “I know what you do for a living and I really need help. I’ve gotten these indentations on the side of my legs kind of by my butt that are really deep dips”.
And there’s some exercises that you can do to reduce the fat around the area. Like if you’re carrying a lot of fat in the butt it is going to make those hip dips more prominent, but there’s nothing you can do actually to get rid of them. People need to realize these things.
I really wanted it just about why this type of marketing sucks.
One of the reasons why this marketing drives me nuts, there’s a lot of them, but it promotes the mindset that there’s a quick fix for everything.
Absolutely. Especially if you want to see real results in the gym, it’s something that is a lifestyle change and something that you have to commit to and dedicated to
Now with life between, it’s what I talk about is not spending two hours a day and six days a week at the gym. I talk about the fact that there is a life between. But it’s still about a commitment to yourself and it’s not going to happen in four weeks.
There’s no 30-day challenge that’s going to make your thighs gap.
Not even in the slightest. And I think the other thing that just drives me crazy about it is that it makes people hate exercise because we think we NEED to be smaller and I don’t agree with that assessment at all.
There’s the whole marketing side of it too around the nutrition aspect. People think you have to be so strict in your nutrition and you’re not allowed to eat anything but salad for 30 days.
And then that also makes people hate eating healthy as well.
I think the worst thing is that it gives such a negative mindset.
Cutting in here to give a quick shout out to today’s sponsor Pro Source! When it comes to working out at home, most people struggle using just their body weight unless you kick ass at pull-ups.
Already for this reason alone, I always send my new clients home with resistance bands, especially new moms. They’re simple to use, low impact and beyond cheap. I am Dutch after all.
Pro source offers resistance bands and any other home fitness equipment you can need at great prices. I truly believe that working out at home helps you stay consistent and well.
I do have a killer setup now. I trained for years using just bands, one kettlebell, and some suspension straps, especially as a new mom. Resistance bands are the biggest bang for your buck.
You don’t need a fancy setup, but having some options to train your body properly helps head on over to Prosrourcefit.com and save some money using code mama bear 15 and set yourself up. Then stay consistent and smash some goals.
I am a plant-based. I don’t eat meat or dairy products or anything like that and I don’t eat salad.
I hate eating that. I don’t eat salad. I eat only plants but not a salad. And I can still eat well enough to be able to balance out my exercise and nutrition and all of that and still be able to enjoy my fitness journey, which is what is all about.
Why It’s Impractical To Strive For Body Ideas (10:42)
So, let’s touch on a little bit more about why it’s impractical to expect one exercise to completely fix the body or an area of the body.
Typically, when you’re working out, you can’t tell your body to extract that or burn calories from your triceps because you don’t want to have that one area anymore.
Let’s talk about bat wings for a second, you can’t say, “okay, I’m going to do a thousand triceps extensions because I really want my body to extract the fat or the calories from my triceps to make my arms leaner”.
When you’re working out, your body is naturally just going to pull the fat and burn the calories from any part of your body. We just don’t have any control over that, which is why consistency and eating well is so important.
I love that answer. And going back to thigh gap, this one just drives me bananas because I don’t think that thigh gap is the most gorgeous thing in the world. But, avoid striving for the thigh gap aside from the fact that it is just impractical.
I know, I love the squat and I do all my lunges and leg presses and all of that and I don’t have a thigh gap. My thighs are super muscular.
I know like the first one I ever felt bad about was my size. I was walking off of the beach with someone, and someone that I know locked at me and said, “Oh my goodness, aren’t you like a personal trainer? What’s your size?”
Oh my God.
And it is so impractical for somebody to consciously like be thinking about all the time because it’s all about your anatomy.
It’s about the way your body is going to work for you. It’s not necessary. As I said, I do tons of exercises and my thigh still touch. That’s just the way my body is shaped, period.
One thing to note too is that thigh gap or not having muffin tops or even six-pack abs, none of these are an actual sign of health or fitness.
Extremely fit people may not have abs. These things are all aesthetic and not a lot of them are even practical aesthetic goals. None of them have anything to do with your fitness level or your health. So why we strive for them is mind-blowing to me.
It’s all vanity and they’re all vanity metrics. Like I said in the beginning, these things are so stuck in people’s minds because it’s the social media or the internet, other fitness professionals, are telling people that this is what’s beautiful.
All you have to look like this if you want it to be sexy. You have to be a certain size and look a certain way when realistically that’s just bullshit. We’re not Barbie.
I know most moms coming to me are obviously looking to reduce their tummy area after having kids, which I totally understand. What’s your two cents? Belly blasters and five exercises to six-pack abs?
Oh, my goodness.
So again, you can’t belly blast because you can’t say, “okay body, please choose to burn calories from my midsection”.
That’s just not a thing. And the whole 5 moves for six-pack abs? Honestly start with planks, they work your midsection and the entire body.
A lot of people are telling you to do these froggy sit-ups or toe reaches. But you just need to find the exercises that work for your body.
For example. Planking works really well for me when I’m building core strength. And just being able to recognize, maybe even working with somebody like you, being able to realize that sit-ups are not going to give you that six-pack. It’s just so mind-boggling to me that these are things being strived for.
is I’m fine with a lot of different ab exercises depending on what purpose they serve to your life and program.
So, if you are looking to get into more gymnastics, by all means, rock hanging leg raises and toe touches and all of those fun things.
But if your goals are to be able to pick up your kids without pain, you’re not looking at those types of exercises.
I do understand wanting to reduce the belly area after pregnancy. I just think that there’s better things to focus on and to focus more on performance before you try and reduce areas.
What I say to a lot of my mom clients, especially after you’ve gone through the entire pregnancy period and then postpartum as well, you’ve lost a lot of muscle mass in that timeframe.
So, to be able to go back to working out and really focusing on core strength rather than a six-pack is so important because like you said, picking up your kids and being able to have the energy to keep up with them is everything.
That takes a lot of core strength, which is not just the abdominals. I feel like a lot of people need to be educated on the transverse abs and the glutes are a part of your core system. It’s really just a lack of information.
All right, so when looking at moms and not just postpartum core, but moms in general, what type of exercises do you think is better of a mom’s time?
I really believe different kinds of plank exercises are going to be right where it’s at.
A lot of times because even though my kids are older, my youngest will be nine in a couple of weeks and I still like to lift her and pick her up. I’ll chase her around the yard and stuff like that, push her on this and whatnot.
I like to do lots of varying exercises in a plank position because they are a total body strengthening exercise and such deep muscle strengthening.
Also, yoga is really great for moms because you are building the muscle and wrapping them right around the bones and the joints, protecting the joints and preventing injuries.
So, if you’re climbing the play structure at the playground with your kids, you’re going to need to be like super strong and quick on your feet so that you’re not getting hurt.
You know, while you’re trying to do all those things that you did 15 years ago because I know my 34-year-old body can’t do the same things!
I like to still try.
For me, I think with moms instead of focusing on thigh gap and belly blasters and whatever other crazy random shit comes out of Pinterest I like to focus a lot on the basics.
For moms I think especially we need to work our postural muscles, so you’re looking at your upper back, the back of your legs, your glutes, your supporting core.
Get strong and basic lifts and full-body exercises before you’re looking at doing 20 sit-ups or 80 hip dips or some crap.
Absolutely. Focusing on the larger muscle groups first and then working your way down into my sticky areas.
Although I will say that a lot of times, I have moms, whether they’re new moms or older moms, that from the lifting of the children for so long back pain.
One common factor is a weak piriformis muscle so that tiny little muscle right inside the glute. It doesn’t really get any attention but does a lot for supporting the low back. That’s one thing that I work on as well.
I’m a big, crazy glute person and I’d like to note too, if you’re going to focus on bigger bang for your buck exercises, looking at more combo exercises or just more large muscle group exercises. You are going to lose more weight that way and you are going to look more toned that way than if you are doing a very minor exercises for high repetitions. Just a fun fact.
Women are so afraid of lifting, of getting bulky. But let’s compare your lifting time to say running on a treadmill.
You’re burning so many more calories lifting weights than you are running miles upon miles. And once you build that lean muscle mass, your body continues to burn calories in order to support that lean muscle mass. When you stopped burning calories as soon as you’re done running.
So, having that lean muscle you’re going to continue to burn those calories, you’re going to be stronger. And my favorite part is that you will increase your bone density too.
So, in the long run, you’re still only just gaining strength, whether it’s in your muscular system or your skeletal system.
So, what’s one thing you wish all moms knew? One piece of advice about fitness, any kind of tip
That you just have to love yourself through it all. That’s what makes it worth it. Being current to yourself.
I think my biggest tip would probably be to enjoy your workouts through your process because the key to any goal is consistency and you’re not going to stay consistent with something you hate.
Find something that you enjoy that you don’t dread and just freaking rock it.
One more thing! Switching up your exercises to moms will keep you from plateauing.
So, whether you spend a few weeks doing cardio, a few weeks doing weightlifting or a few weeks doing yoga, always switching things up and keep your body guessing.
I feel like I could literally rant about this subject all day. It drives me bananas, but I suppose I’ll leave it here until next time.
Serena, thanks again for joining me today. I know that’s an eye twitchy subject for you too and for anyone looking to connect with Serena, you can find her at Serena underscore life between weights on Instagram and she also has a Facebook too.
Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for listening. I’m loving having the ability to chat to so many amazing people.
If you’re loving what you’re listening to, please subscribe rate and share the podcast! Not only does this give helpful information to others who may not know where to find it, but it also helps me out too, so that I can keep providing you with more.
And remember, if you’re in need of fitness tips, workouts, and amazingly healthy recipes, check out my website at Fitasamamabear.com you can also hit up the show notes on my website, find connect with Serena.
On that note, check back soon. Catch the next episode of the Fitasamamabear podcast. And if you took one lesson from today’s podcast, I hope it’s that striving for these specific body ideals are impractical and not worth your time.
Focus on strength, enjoyment, and being able to keep up with kiddos. Chat soon friends.
Connect With Serena