It has given us the power to stay behind a keyboard and throw hurtful words and opinions without the repercussion of seeing the emotion of the receiving end. Then we have our mainstream media, who like to shove images down our throats of ‘perfection’.
Ok, so let’s think this through. Mainstream media wants us all to be thin and encourages a culture of FAT SHAMING – if someone is overweight then they are looked on differently than others and even the media eye captures them differently. Think of the plot points of “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” or “Drop Dead Diva”. The ‘unattractive’ character was slightly heavier than her counterpoint. (That being said, media seems to equate weight with intelligence – especially based on these two examples so I guess it’s not possible to be thin and smart).
Right, so Fat Shaming on social media has been huge over the years; especially when it comes to the faceless, uneducated masses taking on celebrities or athletes that are not their vision of ideal. Need examples? Go search #FatShamingWeek to see a hodgepodge of the satire and serious.
Recently I have noticed a shift.
We are so over-reactionary now about someone who might possibly be “fat shaming” someone else, that social media has taken another ugly turn into FIT SHAMING.
What is Fit Shaming?
Ever had a friend make a declaration of positive change on Facebook only to be met with their ‘friends’ telling them they’re doing things wrong, they look fine, or not to worry about what the scale says? This is the surface.
Remember this controversy?
The internet went ablaze at this physically fit woman who was making a point. The blasted her for fat shaming, and, in turn, they were FIT shaming. “How dare you exercise when you have three kids?” But that was her point – anyone can find an excuse to not be fit and healthy. She did not find excuses and, despite having three children, here she is: trim, healthy and able to fully enjoy the lives of her sons.
Since I’m on a roll of past media explosions of fit shaming, let’s go with this one:
Watch out. Here is another irresponsible woman who is lifting weights. (Oh and she happens to be pregnant.) “Crossfit Mom” stirred the waters of Fit Shaming when photos of her clean and jerk started circulating the amongst the trolls of the internet. Though she stated that she was cleared by her doctor for exercise, and her weights were low, the fit shamers needed to let her know that she was a horrible person. Let’s also remember that she had been on a Crossfit routine for a long time before her pregnancy. She didn’t take up lifting when she found herself 7months pregnant.
Alright, now let’s move into some personal experiences I’ve had.
Everyone knows that I’m an Herbalife Health Coach. I have a lot of friends that utilize healthy eating programs like I do, in combination with exercise. Do things go astray sometimes? Yes. Do we have to recommit once in a while? Yes.
In the past 2 days I have seen 3 separate instances of good friends of mine (some on Herbalife, some not) being shamed about their decision to become healthier.
I understand that the friends who were commenting thought they were coming from a good place. When looking deeper at some of the comments, I realized there was a lot of projection going on.
“Don’t do that. It’s a diet. It’s a fad. You’re just going to fail.”
“I used to be an athlete and I know you’re doing it wrong.”
“You look fine. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
“Herbalife is a hoax, you’re going to get fat.”
“You work out a lot. You don’t need to change your eating.”
Right, so those comments are just abridged versions of what I have gotten from a handful of social media sites from my friends’ pages. I also had a friend from Philly post a status about the negativity she’s been feeling ever since she rebooted her program. Not cool. I have been on my journey for over 10 years now. I have endured a lot of hurt and anger over what people have said to me. Here’s a sampling:
“You workout too much.”
“You’re obviously anorexic.”
“Stop exercising. You’re going to hurt yourself.”
“It’s weird that you take that many vitamins”
“You’re being selfish.”
[on a picture of a healthy meal] “Gross. Can’t you put chocolate on that to make it taste good?”
“Muscles are ugly”
“No one will marry you if you lift weights, they’ll all think you’re scary.” (This is why I have my #StrongIsSexy tag)
“You’re stupid for drinking so much water. You don’t need that much.”
“You’re stupid for eating so much protein.”
“You’re getting dyke-ey.”
“You should be working, not working out.”
“You make me feel lazy.”
“You’re too intimidating.”
I’ve also been tagged in many photos of unhealthy habits where the other party seems to be BRAGGING about the unhealthy meal. And when I have put up messages about joining my healthy journey, I have gotten remarks about “Can I do it and eat Oreos?” and other comments along those lines.
Should I keep going? It’s hard to go back through the memory banks and pull these out. I end up commenting on threads and conversations that I should probably stay out of because I don’t want any of my friends to hear these words from people they love and respect. No one should be told that their healthy choice is bad. No one should feel like wanting more energy and life is an insult to others.
Again, sometimes it is meant to come from a place of caring and support, but our phrasing is wrong. I know that I have a very bad reaction whenever someone tells me about the great juice diet they’re about to do for 45 days. No one is perfect, but we need to have an awareness of our words and feelings.
These negative comments come from a place of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, inability to look at oneself to make healthy changes, or even from a simple misunderstanding of what a healthy lifestyle looks like. Those around us will look at what we are doing and see what they are NOT doing, become defensive, and sometimes go on the attack. The projection ends up on our social media and in passive aggressive conversation in day to day life. It happens all the time, and we are ok with it. Fat shaming is not acceptable, but FIT shaming happens just as often, we just haven’t put the spotlight on it yet.
**Disclaimer: If you have a friend that seriously is not eating, has dropped an unhealthy amount of weight in a short period of time, or has a tendency to go from 0 to 120 mph on things, it’s ok to express your concern. Before you approach them with: “You’re doing this wrong”, ask them questions about what they’re doing and why. I guarantee that every human will be less defensive about your feelings if you come to them from a place of understanding, instead of a place of attacking.
So the next time your friend posts that they’re going to CrossFit for the first time, or that they are starting a running routine, or that they have a goal to lose 20 pounds – encourage them. Support them in public. Ask questions about what they’re doing and what made them go for it. If you’re already healthy, help them along the way. If you are not in a super healthy lifestyle, and you feel indignant, incredulous or any other negativity towards the idea of what your friend is doing, that’s fine. You’re allowed to have those feels. That is your choice, but do not spread the negativity and resentment onto the rest of us simply because your choice is not our choice.
For those of us in this world that are combating the negativity of loved ones on an already difficult journey, keep pushing forward. Life will continue to hit you with obstacles. You are stronger. When you are past all of it and can look back on the journey, you’ll be very glad you did not listen to the naysayers.
Music is such an amazing outlet. Whether it is playing, or just yelling along to the lyrics as we drive (check out the song “Open Road Song” by Eve 6 for an excellent musical tale about doing just that) – music is a release. Music can get the message out to others that we are too shy to express. (“Mix Tape” from Avenue Q anyone?) And while not every song lyrically reflects my feelings as of late, some of them are just fun to dance along to. Like track one.
I’ve decided to share with you my newest mix CD. Yes. I still make mix CDs. Stop laughing, please. I always name my disc with a mix of names from the album. So here is the disc I am now singing at FULL VOLUME. Want to know me better, check out the music. There are themes of confusion, betrayal, jealousy, triumph, love, confidence, understanding, sex, defiance, strength, aspirations, miscommunication, nostalgia; just to scratch the surface.
Lucky Little Miracle Mile Mix:
Harlem – New Politics Pain –Jimmy Eat World Kill Your Heroes – AWOLNATION Little Talks – Of Monsters and Men Cough Syrup – Young the Giant Safe and Sound – Capital Cities Miracle Mile – Cold War Kids HarderBetterFasterStronger – Daft Punk Tiptoe – Imagine Dragons Fresh Blood – Eels Get Lucky – Daft Punk (feat. Pharrell Williams) Royals – Lorde Wake Up – AWOLNATION Changing – Airbourne Toxic Event Mr. Brightside – The Killers Feeling This – Blink 182 Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons Uninvited – Alanis Morissette
A lot of people say that the hardest part of a body transformation is getting started. I say the hardest part is continuing the path once you’ve been doing it for a while.
In the past 11 months (wow – it’s been almost a year already??), I have worked with a lot of friends and colleagues who are very strong at the start of their journey. They’re dedicated, diligent and feeling amazing. Then … they start to peter off. I wanted to take some time to talk about why the decline happens, and what you can do to keep yourself on track.
Your Words DO Mean Much
As a communications grad, I am all about the verbage. Words can make a huge difference when you’re making changes in your life. While “actions speak louder” is true, if you do not work on resetting your own vocabulary, you are going to constantly trigger negative emotions as you move through a new challenge. Some examples:
Reset your thinking of the word “Diet”. Diet, by definition, is the list of the foods we eat. It has become synonymous with being “on a diet” ie “starving yourself”. Erase the old definition from your mind and understand that your diet is simply the list of the foods you eat every day.
Add the word ‘yet’ onto sentences that involve struggle. For example, instead of saying, “I can’t do a pull up”, phrase it “I can’t do a pull up YET”. It’s amazing how three letters can add power and confidence to your sentence. Another great word is “will”. Instead of saying “I’d like to be able to do 10 pushups in a row” say, “I will do 10 push-ups in a row.”
Removing negativity and negative self-talk is also CRITICAL to your success. And I don’t just me in regards to your workouts and eating. I mean overall in your life. Think about how often you complain, gossip, criticize or blame others for the negative things in your life. These are toxic habits keep your mind in the mode of failure. Training yourself to not complain or criticize is a mighty prospect, but if you can master your negative emotions, than success in all endeavors is sure to follow. Can you challenge yourself to not complain for an entire week? Not one. If you find yourself about to complain about something, stop. Breathe. Let the complaint go and think about how you can turn the situation to a positive note.
Start with personal development. Books like The Big Leap (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED), The Slight Edge, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, or any recordings by Les Brown, Jim Rohn or Zig Ziegler are great places to start to get your mind set for success.
It’s a Lifestyle, not a Quick Fix
So we’re back to that “crash diet” thing.
No one is ever looking to “drop 10 pounds and then gain it back a few months later”. Having goals that stretch past a month or two away is crucial for long-term changes in health and wellness. It’s not about doing something that works for a few weeks and then saying “Hey I feel great!” and then quitting what you were doing.
There’s a reason you feel great. There’s a reason your knee doesn’t hurt anymore or why your stomach doesn’t hate you in the morning. There is a reason you suddenly dropped five pounds or have the energy to get through your day. If you think to yourself, “I’m cured!” and then go back to old routines … well … everything you worked for will deteriorate.
When you’re looking to change your life, think about if you really want to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. Do you really want to heal quicker? To run longer? To lose that 40 pounds? To sleep better? Do you want to do it for a couple months, or for always? That is the important piece of the puzzle to come to terms with here.
Understand that You Are Human
Even the best of us slip. The difference between those who are successful and those who quit are how we deal with our imperfections.
Ok, so you had a chocolate bar at work because the chocolate craving was too much and you forgot to pack your usual chocolatey protein bar (which keeps the cravings at bay). So now you have a choice. Some people will say: “Screw it. Today is blown. I’m going to the Chinese buffet to sulk. I’ll try again tomorrow.”
The successful people will say: “Oops. Where’s my water?” and we won’t let it affect the rest of our plan. Also, most of us will, a half hour later say “Ugh, my tummy hurts” because we’re not used to putting bad stuff in our bodies anymore. After going low-to-no simple carbs for two weeks, I find that, now, when I eat bread I get extremely tired and feel kind of ucky. The morning after drinking a couple beers? Awful. I don’t have time for that anymore. I like being sharp and energized!
The point is – understand that mistakes happen. Don’t use them as an excuse to blow the rest of your day and don’t scapegoat the continuation of bad habits as mistakes. If you make the ‘mistake’ of picking up fast food every other day after you’ve decided to change your ways – guess what? That’s not a mistake. That is a conscious decision that you need to come to terms with.
Part of long term success with a body transformation is the ability to reconstruct our internalized sense memories. Many of us get good feelings when we eat a cheesesteak or we curl up on the couch. These feelings are not wrong or bad, but they do set us up to sabotage our healthy habits.
It takes a long time, but committing yourself to changing your concept of comfort foods and stress relief will help your long term body transformation efforts. When you’re sad or feeling low energy, instead of turning to usual ‘comfort’ foods (which are high fat, high simple carbs) make the effort to do something a little bit better for yourself. My new comfort food is thai and Japanese food (as little rice or noodles as possible). When I’m at home, sautéed broccoli or a salad with shrimp and avocado do the trick.
It is not easy to re-train your brain. By repeating the habits again and again, eventually your body will stop craving McDonald’s at the first sign of grey skies, and crave your healthy alternatives instead.
As far as stress relief is concerned, often we crumble under the pressure of it. Even those of us who play a sport like roller derby, football or hockey, will find that we have bad days. Days where we just want to stay under the pillows, and our sports activities cannot relieve the pressure.
This is the time that you get up and move. Do something different. Walk. Run. Climb. Conquer something new. I became a runner because I needed to conquer my mind. I needed to stop being afraid, I needed to stop quitting when life got hard and I needed to prove that I could overcome depression.
So I did something I had told myself for years that I wouldn’t do: I ran. I swallowed my pride and I did something I didn’t want to do. I mastered my mind and I learned more about myself in the process than I ever would have from sitting in my chair watching re-runs of Project Runway.
Find a Buddy Who is Also Making Changes
Accountability partners are awesome. Whether it is for a business, exercising or talking about the things that went good or bad in your day, a good buddy is a great weapon for success. You can keep journals and food logs and keep up with one another. If they haven’t written in 2 weeks – get them rolling again! By keeping them accountable, you’re also reminding yourself that YOU should be doing the same things.
This being said, sometimes your partner will fall off. They will not make the mental commitment that you will. It’s ok to find a new partner and let them know that you’re there to support them when they’re ready. You can also find online communities of people working to change and support each other.
My own community is at Team HarderBetterFasterStronger on Facebook. We’re all remote, so we can’t meet up at the gym, but we post what our struggles are, what we’re eating and how we’re doing. We cheer for accomplishments and support each other in our hardships.
Maybe This is About More than Just Body Transformation
I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or therapist. That being said, I have noticed something with humans. I’m not concerned that you DID eat the whole pizza, I’m concerned as to WHY you decided to eat the whole pizza, despite goals and commitments and health and all the things we’ve talked about.
Sometimes, the deep-seeded issues need to be addressed and you are not able to handle it on your own. That is ok. Do not be afraid to look inside yourself at the darkness to understand why you are self-sabotaging. Fear will do terrible things to us: it will make us doubt our capacity for change, it will cause us to crave foods we don’t want to eat, it will keep us on the couch when we should be out in the world working.
If you need to seek professional assistance to work through self-doubt, depression, addiction or anything else – it is alright. Do it. You will be able to accomplish anything if you can conquer your mind and your past.
All of these suggestions are long-term commitments to changing your mindset and approach to body transformation. Notice how there is not a single nutrition or workout based tip? This is a mental game; a commitment and recommitment game. Healing and shifting internalized thoughts will create a new radiance on the outside.
Think of a tree and the fruit it bears. If the roots are not solid, if the tree cannot get the food and water it needs – the fruit it bears will not be full and abundant. You cannot give the tree food and water for one day and expect the tree to bloom well. It is a constant process, and never ending. Feed your roots now and always, so that everything else may blossom beautifully and deliciously.
And trust me, there is no better feeling than looking in the mirror and seeing the results of consistency and commitment.
Need some nutrition help or want to start your own journey? Drop me a message at KGreyActiveNutrition@gmail.com