How many times has any given UR student been to the gym in the Goergen Athletic Center? How many people go regularly?

I’m sure it’s a large number of people, but I’m also sure that a lot of regulars all look a certain way. Most people I see at the GAC have beautiful bodies — chiseled and sculpted to a form that Instagram would consider perfect (albeit with a filter overlaid on it). 

On the other hand, I see very, very few people with a body type that Instagram wouldn’t endorse. As a matter of fact, I’ll admit that if I do see a person of said “not Instagrammable” body type, my brain subconsciously forces me to take notice.

Humans are evolutionarily programmed to judge. From our cavemen days, we were conditioned to look at an approaching organism and evaluate it by its appearance, size, and body type. This used to be a valuable skill — in days when tribes fought each other for access to resources and when we hunted animals for food and protection. Not anymore. In today’s world, we definitely don’t need to judge anyone or act according to those judgements, but these instincts stayed with us.

Don’t blame yourself if your brain ticks as soon as you see someone with a body type different from what’s considered acceptable, or even if you’re the one with a distinctive body type. You’re bound to spot this dissimilarity almost instantly, just because it’s a natural instinct. What does matter is how you act after this thought comes to your mind.

Social constructs of a normal, healthy looking person have changed dramatically throughout the years. What your brain does to create this construct is look for “model organisms.” In today’s world these are Instagram influencers, models on billboards, and mannequins at retail stores. Your brain assumes that this is the body type that needs to be achieved. And anyone who doesn’t fit this description is different. Even if that person is you. 

Everyone wants to look their best. Most people think this best version of themselves is that social construct in their brains. I need you to understand that this isn’t the case. 

Even if you finally achieve that thigh gap, slim down that arm fat, or get that rock hard six-pack, you’re not going to be satisfied unless you love yourself first, just as you are. Your body is your soul’s home. It’s the most complicated, intricate machine known to mankind. 

Not looking like that Instagram model doesn’t mean you don’t look absolutely spiffing! Your flaws make you you. And trust me, someone out there has a crush on you right now, just as you are. 

This doesn’t mean you’ll feel great no matter what if you order a huge pizza from Domino’s every day. It’s healthy to have reasonable fitness goals, like wanting to not lose your breath after one flight of stairs or wanting to get stronger. 

Whatever your health goal is, you’ll achieve it in time. Meanwhile, listen to your body. Eat when you need to, rest when you need to, and work out when you want to. Go to the gym if you feel like it and don’t be overwhelmed by the abundance of chiseled abs and thigh gaps. You’ll get there someday if you want to, but trust me, you really don’t need to!

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