Pic credit: www.lovethispic.com
Nothing tastes as good as feeling skinny.
Sweat is fat crying.
Unless you puke, faint, or die – keep going.
Type in the search bar “fitness motivation” in Instagram or Facebook and you’ll likely see quotes similar to above.
What sort of message is the mainstream fitness industry trying to paint here? It sounds like “skinny or die” to me.
As a fitness professional and nutrition coach, this type of messaging makes my skin crawl. It’s ridiculous. And more importantly creates a false portrait of what health & fitness REALLY is.
Focusing on becoming skinny and killing yourself in the gym so you can *look* like a fitness model is what the mainstream fitness industry is desperately trying to condition us to believe. A one-size, one *look* fits-all approach to health. They are trying to distract us with this oppressive messaging playing on our insecurities so that they can profit off us.
We must RESIST.
Because what you *look* like has little to do with the state of your health & fitness. You can be skinny and unhealthy. The assumption in our culture that being skinny means your healthy and fit is called the *skinny bias* and I see it play out all the time.
The truth is REAL health and fitness comes in all sizes and shapes and has very little to do with how you *look* and everything to do with how you *feel* in your body. Health & fitness can be a tool to improve your experience in the world and help you do more of what you are here to do. But it is only an effective tool if you focus on how you *feel*.
- Do you have energy?
- Do you feel alive and happy?
- Do you feel peaceful or stressed?
- Can you focus and think clearly?
- Do you know how certain foods effect your body and state of mind?
- Can you move well?
- Can you do the physical activities you want to do?
- Can you show up and be the person you want to be in the world?
Your health & fitness should make you come alive, feel energized, and confident in your body so that you can experience more adventures and fun stuff you want to do.
This is where the conversation needs to be focused.
By knowing YOUR body, what makes YOU thrive, and what YOU love to do with your body, you RESIST the mainstream fitness messaging and help to recreate a better culture for all of us.
Here are three ways to help you do just that.
1) Know YOUR Body Type
We all have different body types. We all have different genetics.
- Some of us are longer waisted, while others are shorter waisted.
- Some of us have very long legs, other short.
- We all have different bone sizes.
- Some off us carry weight in our stomachs while others in our hips.
- Some of us can eat dairy while some of us get bloated, gassy, and cramped.
These examples are part of our genetic makeup that we can’t change. And that’s ok. There is beauty in every unique variation under the sun. And from a evolutionary standpoint, it is these genetic traits of ours that were selected for to bring us here today.
When we think of all our unique differences, it becomes easy to see how it is impossible for us all to *look* the same. However the “ubiquitous” image we see of idealized health & fitness always *looks* the same. It’s the same body type over and over, right?
Tall, blond, long limbs, skinny, flat abs, you know the *look*.
This constant bombardment of one size, one-look-fits all, is undermining how we think about our own bodies. Health & fitness comes in all sizes and shapes, just ask Ronda Rousey or Serena Williams. I don’t think anyone is questioning their athletic ability and fitness but you rarely see them idealized for their health, instead they’re mostly bullied about their weight.
So we must shield ourselves from this harmful message putting us at war with our own bodies. We need to equip ourselves with information about our body type, so we can work with it, not against it. When you learn more about your body type, you can start to better understand how to eat and train for your unique body. A great place to start is by taking this test located in this post.
What you learn from this test is not the end-all-be-all, but a starting point to this process of self discovery & mastery.
2) Eat For YOUR Unique Body
The fitness industry is always trying to sell you some sort of dogmatic way to eat.
Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, Vegan, High Fat and on and on. While I think there is some merit to a few of these approaches none of them take YOU into consideration.
And YOU are what you need to better understand. Not the DIET.
Building off the understanding of your body type, you now have a framework that you can continue to refine. You’ll now know more about what macronutrients your body utilizes best. (For example, you’ll know more about your carb tolerance.) But you don’t want to stop there, as this is just the beginning.
Next it is important to get a clear understanding of what you eat. And how you improve your understanding is through a skill called awareness.
A great way to practice the skill of awareness is by keeping a 3-day food journal. Write everything down and include portion sizes. If you want to get even more forensic about your body, jot down how you feel (energized, tired, foggy, stuffed) after eating. Although the recording process can feel difficult, try not to attach any meaning to what you ate. No judgement.
Once you have an accurate picture of what you ate over the course of the 3 days (and also how you felt), you can start to analyze this information. (We do this together at the beginning of my coaching program if we are working together).
Often times particular foods can make us feel tired, foggy, bloated, achey, or even worse – leave us hungry 2 hours later. Or sometimes, uncover a food sensitivity or allergy. Knowing this information is a critical step to mastering your body.
3) Do Exercise That Brings You Joy
The fitness industry seems to churn out new exercise regimens faster then the speed of lightening.
Burn the most fat with Orange Theory.
Build more muscle with CrossFit.
Burn the most calories with Soul Cycle.
The list goes on and on.
But again, we’re faced wth the same problem. The fitness industry is concerned with selling you something, but not looking out for what is best for YOU.
When approaching the question of, what exercise should I do, start off by thinking about physical activities that you enjoy doing. Activities that you do because you love them and because they bring you joy. Activities that require no willpower or motivation. Activities that you naturally gravitate towards.
Think about a physical hobby or sport you enjoy. Do you enjoy:
- Playing with your kids?
Whatever it is for you – start there. And commit to doing more of it. Nick & I call this your Active Passion.
With active passion, exercise becomes effortless and requires no motivation.
Why is Active Passion important?
We all know exercise is beneficial to our health. It not a matter of knowing, it’s a matter of doing.
With active passion, you’re much more likely to prioritize exercise because it is not something you think you “should” do. It is actually something you “want” to do.
When exercise becomes a part of your daily life, your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illness goes down and your health, energy, and vitality all go up. It’s this consistency that allows you to build a healthy & fit lifestyle on your own terms.
This is why your active passion is the foundational first step to building a healthy & fit lifestyle that works for you.
So, if you’re still with me, thanks, this is a LONG post.
Together we can RESIST the mainstream fitness programming and recreate our health & fitness culture into something more diverse, inclusive, and supportive of ALL of us. We all deserve to *feel* awesome in our bodies and enjoy vibrant health.
Again here are 3 things you can do right now.
REAL health & fitness comes from focusing on how you *feel*, not on how you *look*.
The best way to shield yourself from harmful mainstream fitness industry messaging is always by focusing on YOU, not on what they are trying to sell you.
By working with your unique body, you can dive into the process of self discovery & mastery using these 3 tools.
1) Take the body type test.
2) Develop the skill of awareness through a 3-day food journal.
3) Do exercise that brings you joy.