A short while ago I received some quite scathing criticism on twitter by someone in the public eye who claimed I should be ‘ashamed’ of myself for trying to keep fit as a new Mum because it puts way too much pressure on other Mum’s to follow suit.
This upset me a great deal because the last thing I attempt to be is a burden on new Mums and rather hope to be an inspiration instead.
I initially shrugged off the comment but given further thought I did wonder if my message of inspiration was reaching some Mums as pressure instead. So I decided to examine my message to see if I could be a clearer inspiration to as many Mum’s as possible.
It led me to realize that the perceived pressure comes from the targets and more specifically the numbers I list for myself. I hate making my fitness goals about weight or size, however in order to spread my message and journey through fitness, magazines and journalists seem to always require data to create their headlines and whilst I spend 99% of an interview speaking about how I train and giving what I hope is inspiring and useful advice, they seem to create the headline from the 1% of the time that I am listing my weight or size (which by the way, regardless of my training rarely fluctuates between a few pounds either way and is therefore COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT!)
I made this realization and have since had to quite aggressively argue with a journalist who literally would not let me speak until I had given her my weight, despite my protesting I realized that the article would not be written if I didn’t give the information and therefore my efforts to inspire Mum’s would not be realized – I also felt quite sorry for her because she was just doing her job.
(Just so everyone is aware, I don’t get paid for these articles, so it’s not about the money, it is all about my message!)
I started to wonder what I could offer instead that gives the magazines the data they need to create a good story but focused on the things that actually matter to me when I train. I understand that the story is only a story if they can put a headline at the top explaining how fit I have become and the easiest way to translate that is by indicating weight loss.
However, that is NOT how I train, I never weigh myself BUT I do challenge myself in measurable ways.
This summer it has been my goal to do a single unassisted pull-up. I have spent my whole life building a strong lower body as a dancer but my upper body is so weak that when I started my pull up training I could barely grip the bar and hang.
After a summer of training I can now lower myself unassisted and I am very close to being able to complete the upward motion of the pull up as well.
Once I have achieved my goal I can write the headline ‘I learned to do a pull up’.
The interesting thing about my pull up journey is that my body has changed and developed for the better as a result. I am stronger and much more lean and toned across my back and shoulders but to be honest I don’t care!
The objective is to do a pull up – that is my challenge and any body improvements are welcome but not the major goal.
I looked back over my life in fitness and realized that my legs are strong and flexible not because I wanted to be strong and flexible but because I wanted to perfect dance steps such as my leg-tilt.
I remembered that having trained hard at the beginning of this year in order to complete a Triathlon, I had shed the extra weight I was carrying after giving birth. At no-point was my goal to lose baby weight but it happened because I was focused on completing a Triathlon.
My next target is to join a group of other Mums in the tough mum challenge and I am training every day to make sure I complete that course in a good time. What happens to my body as a result is irrelevant.
My message to you, no matter what your body goal is to pick a challenge you will enjoy and be proud to achieve.
That will make you feel good, confident and proud, which is what fitness should be about in my opinion!
..and keep an eye out for the headline: ‘Kimberly Wyatt can do a pull-up!’