I have a love-hate relationship with the fitness industry. One the one hand, it is full of truly inspiring people who help others dramatically improve their health, but there are also large parts of this industry that are built on a “no pain, no gain” mentality that preys on an individual’s insecurities. People are driven to work out strictly to change what they dislike about their appearance. Phrases like “muffin top,” “bat wings,” and “love handles” are thrown around and millions of dollars are made by ethically flimsy professionals who love when you find things to judge about your body because it means they just sold another product.
I have had a couple of conversations lately that have honestly made me mad. Conversations with strong, smart, beautiful people who the so called “health” industry pushed into insecurity and self-loathing. They trusted a meal plan or a work out program to help them reach their goals and instead it filled them with feelings of inadequacy and made them scared to take a day off from the gym or to eat more than exactly half a cup of rice. These programs do this on purpose. This is an attempt to keep people on the hook. After all, if you love your body, why would you pay someone for a program to change it?
Obviously I think there are countless benefits to hiring a fitness professional or I wouldn’t be one. My point here is to say that any trainer or coach who is confident in their knowledge and who has integrity wont make you feel bad about yourself. They will inspire you to gain confidence because they aren’t just trying to take your money, they’re trying to make you self-sufficient!
It breaks my heart to see people I care about falling victim to the self-loathing that is pushed on us every day and I need them to know that’s not the only way. I need you to know that losing weight isn’t going to make you happy. Hitting a certain number on the scale will never change how you feel about yourself. Actually, it might make you feel WORSE. If you’ve ever stepped on a scale and seen a higher number than you hoped for then you know exactly what I mean.
Think about that for a minute. If you focus your energy on all the things that you perceive as wrong with your body, what is going to change about that mindset after losing weight? There will always be new things to pick apart if you approach fitness from a negative angle. Trust me. It might sound depressing, but here’s the liberating truth–the scale doesn’t mean anything. It holds no bearing on your ability to run a mile or give your kid a piggyback ride. It can’t tell you how funny you are or that you are an amazing artist. The scale holds no bearing on your worth as a person and it shouldn’t be allowed to rule your life or make you feel bad about yourself. So don’t let it.
Living a healthy life is meant to be enjoyable. Do you hate the diet you’re on? Then stop depriving yourself. Do you force yourself to do workouts that you dread? Quit that program and find something active that you actually enjoy doing. Fitness is a marathon and burning yourself out early on in the race with negative self-talk, deprivation, and boring work outs isn’t going to fly once you’re 70. Focus your energy on loving your body for what it is now; find ways to treat it well through healthy food and movement that you actually enjoy. The physical results will come and the mental changes will set you free. You are smart, strong and beautiful exactly as you are—you just need to believe it.