Why we need to focus on the importance of fitness not weight

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On Saturday I’ll be making my TED debut on stage at TEDx Wandsworth. I am very excited and ready to deliver what I hope will be an engaging and powerful talk on why we need to focus on fitness and not weight if we are to become happier and healthier human beings.

In the talk, I share my ideas around fitness and fatness, and why we put too much emphasis on one and not the other. I talk about the importance of creating ideals based on fitness for young girls, the importance of having aspirational role models (“you can’t be it if you can’t see it”), of creating a culture where it’s about what you say and do not how you look and how obsessing with fatness can create limiting beliefs that last a lifetime and have very negative consequences.

It is my belief that we have to change our perspective on how we view our bodies, particularly as women. It starts with us. Too many young girls and adult women have a warped and deformed view about how they look, which is then fed and supported by advertising, the media, fashion and in the weight loss industry.

I think we need to re-evaluate our relationship with our bodies, and get a renewed perspective. My business is fitness, but there’s a chasm of difference between fitness and the pursuit of a ‘perfect body’. It’s possible to be very fit but also fat, and this might not be such a problem. Whilst subcutaneous fat, particularly around the middle, can be damaging to our health, what is more damaging is a lack of fitness. Talking about the worrying state of children’s fitness, Judy Murray said this: “It’s a lack of fitness, not fatness, that will cause Britain’s kids to suffer long-term health problems.”

I believe we all need to change our attitudes towards food, fatness, fitness and most importantly, how we look. We need to be much less critical of ourselves, and of others. Instead of chasing the dream of a perfect body, or the perfect dress size, let’s make peace with our bodies by changing our perspective of what’s important and stop judging each other on the basis of our appearances alone.

My idea is that we shift our focus from appearances to functional fitness. We eschew the aesthetics of being fit in favour of what it enables us to do. We reconnect with our bodies in a primeval way. Movement and exercise needs to become something that we all do, because of the way it helps us in other areas of life. I believe we need to rebuild the relationship we have with our bodies, so that we can make things better for the next generation and focus on what’s really important in life.

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Leanne Spencer is a fitness entrepreneur, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork: the highly personalised approach to health, fitness and nutrition that puts you first, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that uses innovative techniques such as DNA testing, wearable tech, biohacks and bespoke coaching to transform the lives of our clients. Visit www.bodyshotperformance.com or send an email to info@bodyshotperformance.com for more information or to register your interest in our services.