blogging fitness health

Why does ‘slim’ still equal ‘fit’ and does weighing kids at school make them become fitter?

Friday, 6 November 2015

The other day I was talking to someone who had done a particularly tough exercise class and she was genuinely surprised at how sore she felt afterwards: “I mean I am not that unfit! It’s amazing how I literally could not move for a week after that class!”

She does not exercise vigorously on a regular basis yet was surprised that she was sore after doing so.

I was a bit puzzled as to why she’d think that. I know I personally have never questioned why I feel sore after a hard workout – I know that it’s because have used my muscles more than the muscles are used to. Every workout that’s been tough, every day of being sore has been because I have been pushed myself beyond my current fitness level.

Yet she couldn’t understand why she felt so rough.

But then I think I understood – she is and has always been a slim woman.

I think we still live in the world where your body size is the first “signal” of fitness. People think that if you’re slim, you’re fit. I do not have a naturally slim body type so even now when I deadlift over a 100kg or run 10km in 45 minutes I don’t consider myself VERY fit. My skinny friend, however, just because she’s skinny thinks that because she is not overweight, she’s fit.

It’s fascinating.

There are campaigns like This Girl Can that try to get the message across that fitness and the fun of exercise has nothing to do with body size. There are also lots of fitness bloggers out there these days (thank g*d) who love growing muscles and don’t feel that exercise is for making you smaller and slimmer – just a constant battle to shrink, shrink, shrink and shrink some more.

Yet we’re not there yet. There’s still so much focus on body size and what one looks like instead of focusing on what one’s body can do and how it feels to live in it.

The National Obesity Forum here in the UK wants to introduce a new scheme that would mean routinely weighing children at school.

I can’t think of anything more wrong than that.

23June2013_2We do not need to tell children that the number on the scales shows how healthy they are.

We need to show and teach children that exercise is FUN, that moving your body on a daily basis makes you feel good both physically and emotionally.

If they get weighed and are told they’re overweight, exercise becomes punishment and that’s exactly the mentality we don’t want children to grow up with.

To exercise because you love your body is a completely different mental ball-game from exercising because you hate your body and feel like you need to ‘fix’ that number on the scales.

I hope this weigh-in proposal falls through. And I hope more focus is put on cooking, nutrition and fun physical activities at schools. Focusing on negative only breeds negativity. Focusing on positive is what’s needed.

In my dreams the younger generations will grow up not all trying to be the same size and shape, they do not think that if they are slim, they do not need to exercise. They will WANT to exercise, because they know fitness is SO much more (fun, for example!) than a number on the scales or on the label of your jeans.

And it looks like I started writing about one thing and sort of ended up with something else :)  I would love to hear your thoughts – even if they ramble on like mine! 

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  • PT Mollie Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 20:33

    It seems like many of England’s initiatives are actually reactive instead of proactive. This annual weigh-in (at school, which is hard enough as it is) will cause emotional distress and promote eating disorders. Don’t children go to the doctors annually, which would be a more appropriate setting to talk about health (not an impersonal form letter)?

    I remember reading somewhere that parents today see ‘skinny’ kids (what my brother looked like growing up- all ribs) as underfed/malnourished. Our paradigms have shifted so much in 20 years that I wonder if we will ever get back.

  • Lisa Lock Monday, 9 November 2015 at 18:28

    Oh no I didn’t even know that and I totally agree. I have low body fat and although I haven’t weighed myself for years as I haven’t felt the need to last time I did I was 5’3 and 9.5 stone at my leanest. Size 8/10. If I had weighed any more I would have looked way to skinny. Im just a heavy person whether it be muscle or bone or whatever. BMI stuff is a load of crap! Its such a good question how to do it though as a parent of 2 young children the amount of junk food that is normal to just eat scares me!

    • MrsB Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 11:32

      It’s so true that junk food is considered so normal and so much of it has been labelled as ‘healthy’ – all the stuff with dried fruit and all kinds of cereal bars full of sugar, etc. I’m being mean now and just putting fresh fruit into my kids lunch boxes for ‘dessert’. They’re wondering what happened to the Bear fruit roll-ups. Oops :) I’m sure they’ll get used to it eventually. Especially since I do give them dessert at home after dinner.

  • Triin Saturday, 7 November 2015 at 01:38

    I hated when they weighed us in school! All the judgement from the school nurse and feeling ashamed in front of my peers. Ugh, very unpleasant memories. Ruined my self-esteem and eating habits for a long period of time. Definitely a bad idea.

    • MrsB Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 11:34

      Weirdly I don’t remember being weighed at school but I was reading my old diaries the other day and at one point when I was 13 I wrote about being on a diet :|

    • MrsB Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 11:36

      Weight tends to be such a personal thing to women, especially young women, to have someone weigh you can be very humiliating indeed :( I agree that teachers / doctors / parents should pay more attention to how the kids are behaving and feeling, instead of just writing down and number and that’s that.

    • MrsB Wednesday, 11 November 2015 at 11:37

      My kids so far are the other way – stick skinny. I think they’d be told that they’re too skinny :|