“Long, Lean & Sexy… Not Bulky”… Say, What?!

Last week, I was forced to take some unexpected rest days because I was fighting a cold. What’s a girl like me to do with extra time spent at home on the couch? If you’re thinking: get caught up on blogging, reading, etc., well, yes, that’s what I would’ve liked to have done. But what did I really do? I got sucked into reality TV shows… #guiltyascharged

As I was flipping through the channels, I stumbled upon a “Revenge Body” marathon. This is the show that Khloe Kardashian’s created and although the name and my initial idea of what the show was about (we should make changes for US and because WE want to, not because of or for others) turned me off, I did want to give it a chance.

While I thought there were some positive aspects of the show, there was something that really bothered me when it came to what  one of the trainers was saying as “motivation” to keep her client moving. Before I get to that, let’s set up the tone of the situation that had me crawling in my seat:

The girl wanting revenge grew up as an athlete and due to a lot of really terrible life tragedies, stopped working out and turned to food instead. She had gained a lot of weight and wanted to get back to what she knew she could and wanted to be. She was excited to get back into the gym and a training program: flipping tires, slamming ropes, lifting heavy weights, etc.

In turn, what she was faced with was a dance-focused, high cardio based class format & trainer. I will preface this post by saying there is nothing wrong with this type of training and workout. BUT, only if it’s something you enjoy. After the first session, this girl was not feeling the workout- she wanted to be lifting heavy things rather than just doing cardio.

Long story short, she ended up sticking with this trainer, enjoying the workouts and losing 30 pounds, BUT, I couldn’t get past what the trainer was saying as motivation and as a way to “sell” her on the workout, why it worked and why she should stick with it:

These workouts will help you get long, lean and sexy… and not bulky! These workouts will help you get that long, lean muscle body like a dancer!

Say, what?! First off, as many of my friends have talked about in their blog posts, we simply cannot change the length of our muscles. It’s just not possible. On top of that, what’s wrong with being “bulky”, which, by the way, is very subjective. What exactly does that even mean? How does that mean you won’t be lean? Or that you won’t be sexy?

Unfortunately, this type of marketing sells for a lot of people, women in particular. Which is exactly why magazines are covered with “7 ways to lose 7 pounds in a week” or “foods that will flatten your belly” or “2 weeks to a new you”, right? This hooks people in, but, ultimately they’re all false promises. Unless you’re genetics result in you having “long, lean” muscles, all the cardio & small weight lifting in the world won’t get you them. And, just because you may not have those and you may prefer lifting heavier weights, flipping tires, pulling ropes, etc., does not mean you will get “bulky” (but again, what does that even mean?!).

I get so frustrated when I see/hear people use those types of false statements to get people motivated. How about “this workout may not be what you were hoping for, but because of the combination of cardio and plyometric exercises paired with low weight and high repetitions, you will notice a change in how your body reacts. That said, let’s swap out 1-2 days of this with heavier weights if that’s something you prefer.”? Right? At the end of the day, we should do workouts that we enjoy (or at least don’t hate 😉 ), ones that challenge us, but ultimately, ones that make us feel strong- both physically and mentally. Because working out to get “long, lean muscles” or to avoid “getting bulky” are only short term, surface level motivations and likely won’t be enough for you to sustain whatever diet/workout you’re doing.

So, I urge you to think beyond “wanting to lose 10 pounds” or “get a flat stomach” or getting “long & lean” and instead focus on how workouts make you feel. What do you like? Dislike? What makes you feel STRONG and POWERFUL and most importantly, HAPPY? When you dial in to those feelings, I think you’ll find yourself connecting more to your workouts, your body & your mind and ultimately getting the results you want. And the best part is that this all happens while appreciating your body, rather than the alternative which always leaves you feeling like you need to give more or that you aren’t good enough because you still need to lost X pounds or workout for X minutes or do X type of workout.

At the end of the day we have one life and one body and it’s up to us to learn how to treat it with love and compassion and to break away from the stereotypes of “good” (long, lean, not bulky, etc.).

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Questions for you: What’s a workout that makes you happy or that you enjoy?

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4 thoughts on ““Long, Lean & Sexy… Not Bulky”… Say, What?!

  1. Suzanne Gagnon says:

    Hi Nick, What a wonderful post! I loved what you had to say about what fitness really is. I will NEVER have a “long, lean and sexy” body–hey, I’m 4’11”!!, but I love to do exercise that makes me feel good. Today, I came home from school and decided to x-country ski for 45 mins. during the snowstorm–loved it, and got a great cardio workout! Doesn’t get better than that. Mom

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