There's a post floating around facebook that's got a lot of traction. 89k likes, about 33k shares since it was posted July 1st. It's a "feel good" post with very wide appeal but I wanted to discuss it, because I feel like it sends an absolutely terrible message. The poster obviously meant well and made some very good points I completely agree with, but the post is very damaging to what people think about being fit. She portrays fitness as an all or nothing endeavor, either you make fitness your life or you have a life and give up fitness. That's the polar opposite of what we should be telling people, and the fact this has gotten so many shares is legitimately saddening.
This woman apparently used to be a bikini competitor, and she posted a before/after pic of what seemed to be before a show, and after she had gained a lot of weight. The image below shows her caption, and I'll respond to a lot of it.
First of all, it's awesome this woman found happiness and learned to love her body. Nobody should ever be unhappy in life or feel bad about themselves as a person because of being overweight. I've written about this before. Obesity stigma (more well known as fat shaming) is a huge problem, but research has shown it's mostly a problem when people internalize it. That means the people that are hurt by it are the people that believe it, and allow their opinion of themselves to be based on their body. Most people have more body fat than they like at times, but there's no reason that needs to be permanent, and there's no reason to think negative things about yourself due to it. It's cliche, but the old adage "you aren't fat, you have fat" is true in this context.
But let's get back to this woman's post. I'lll make this easier to read by responding to quotes from it.
I've never once felt controlled by my lifting schedule. I've never had a client feel controlled by their lifting schedule. A properly programmed routine takes into account the persons time, preferences, and should be enjoyable for them. Sure, there will be days that you don't want to go to the gym, and not everyone enjoys lifting as much as others, but lifting should never become something somebody has this much disdain for. Skipping a day here and there when you're not feeling it or taking a week off when you're really burnt out is fine and should prevent ever feeling this strongly about it.
If she hates weighing chicken so much she could meal prep with pre-portioned meals. She could have switched to estimating for awhile. She could have switched to something easier to estimate like lean beef or turkey burgers. Instead of carrying around protein shakes she could carry around beef jerky or just changed her eating schedule to get her protein in other times. I'd also hazard a guess she thinks she needed more protein than she does.
"Fully enjoying" a social life is pretty subjective, but the idea that you can't be fit and enjoy a social life is just ridiculous. Sure, you may not "fully" enjoy it if your idea of fully enjoying it is overeating and overdrinking you're not likely to be fit doing it, but I'm not sure why that would be anyone's goal anyways. If your lifestyle is an unhealthy one, regardless of weight, why would you celebrate it? If things that make you unhealthy make you happy why would you accept that as if it's a good thing?
What's unreasonable about hiking and drinking some beers with friends and also being fit? She likely meant she can't hike due to time dedicated to working out, but that's ridiculous. Hiking fits incredibly well into a fit lifestlye, andMy ex Jenny and I run a facebook group and company called Barbells & Brewskis with about 1600 members who manage to balance the two very well. Alex Viada drinks beers very regularly and manages to stay near single digit body fat year round. Greg Nuckols is a beer lover who released the best fitness shirt I've ever seen combining fitness and beer. The biggest issue with this post that I'll discuss more later is the black and whiteness of it. You don't have to choose to either have a life or be fit, you can and should balance the two.
This woman seems to have fallen for the "you have to eat clean or you'll be fat" myth. Unless foods are a trigger for binging for someone there isn't often a reason to completely keep them out of a diet. She was restricting herself unnecessarily, and now feels she's "free" to eat what she wants. This is a big problem with over-restricting, and often leads to binging or quitting (like this woman did). If you feel like you can't eat a food it often makes you want the food more, and when you give in and eat it you feel like a failure and the negative feelings can lead to overeating. Even if the foods you love are calorie dense and hyperpalatable with proper planning you shouldn't have to give it up completely. If this woman was more educated she wouldn't have seen food like this.
This woman isn't morbidly obese. She's not gonna get a tv show about her where they have to remove the roof and use a crane to get her out of her bed. She's not gonna have a heart attack after eating a whopper at Burger King. But based on her pic she has gained enough weight to negatively affect her health. You don't get another body, why would you want to treat the one you have poorly? I fully understand enjoying things that can be unhealthy, but if you really care about your body you don't just love it, you take care of it too.
This I absolutely fully agree with, and I made the same point earlier. Never should someone's self worth be decided by how much they lift, weigh, or a body fat percentage. There are way more aspects to a person than just those, and fixating on just that is a terrible idea. However, most people are actually happier when they are healthier. This woman was trying to find happiness in her physique while making herself miserable with the methods she used to attain the physique. She doesn't understand there are better routes she could have taken, and doesn't seem to understand the concept of balance. Fitness should NEVER be your entire life or make you miserable. If it does you need to change some things up. But completely neglecting your health for the sake of happiness isn't a good idea either, and people that do so will likely regret it very much in the future.
If you need help balancing fitness with the rest of you life, pm us or email me at Jason@ebpcoaching.com and we can help you out.