As a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and wellness enthusiast, I'm in the trenches of the weight loss industry. Most people, women especially, exercise to lose weight. And there's nothing wrong with that. Goals are important when it comes to establishing healthy habits, and weight loss is often a very compelling goal that drives people to build habits that last a lifetime.
But the truth is, there are a lot of things about this industry that frustrate the junk out of me. I don't like to be super negative on here, but I just wanted to put my gripes out there so that you're aware of them and how they might affect your mental game.
1. Obsession Over Numbers
Weight. Calories. Proteins. Carbs. Fats. Yes, it's all valuable information. But none of those numbers define you. None of those numbers will bring you the fullness of joy. If anything, for some they can become a prison. I think there needs to be a healthy balance of tracking progress vs obsession, and I think that might look different for every person.
2. Unhealthy Goals
This one shouldn't come as a shocker. Do you watch The Biggest Loser? So many of those men and women lose a ton of weight and end up at a really healthy place. But sometimes, people go too far on the other side, like Rachel Frederickson. She looked so great and athletic before she went home. When she came back, she was far too thin for her frame and seemed to have lost a lot of her hard-earned muscle. These types of things make me sad.
3. Unrealistic Goals
I'm just as guilty of this as anyone. When we lived in Houston, there was a young woman who went to our gym that I desperately wanted to look like. Every time I saw here there, I would look at her and then look at myself in the mirror, comparing the two of us and trying to figure out how I could look like her. When you looked at her, she looked like an athlete, and that's all I wanted -- to look like an athlete. No matter how much muscle I gained or fat I lost, it was never enough. I didn't look like her. One day, I was whining about it to Matt and he responded with such clarity, "Bridget. She's like 6ft tall. You physically cannot look like her (I'm 5'4"). And frankly you're more muscular than her." I somehow never realized how much taller than me she was. And it took Matt pointing it out to make me realize that that was a ridiculous and stupid goal. I need to look my best, not her best. I am not, and cannot be, her.
Same goes for others. I think people get caught up in Kayla Itsines' abs or Carrie Underwood's legs and forget that we all have different body types, heights, frames, etc. I would love to put an end to the comparison game, because I think it breeds discontentment among people who already look really great.
4. At All Cost Mentality
This kinda ties in with number 2 when it comes to restrictive eating and cutting calories. But I also want to bring to light what I mean by this with macro counting and meal plans. Choosing deli meat and frozen chicken nuggets because they have good macros is not healthy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get that you can keep your abs as long as it's in your macros. But obviously it's better for you to eat real things.
And when it comes to meal prepping, it makes me sad when I hear about women bringing tuna packets to their family Christmas dinner, because they're not willing to splurge even once.
This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I've spent way too much time overanalyzing my social media channels and blog vs other women in fitness. If you look at all of the really popular sites/people, they usually post a lot of body shots -- abs, butt, bikini, etc. Their whole account is surrounded around the goal of being "sexy" or looking "hot in a bikini." I think this type of underlying intention encourages the unhealthy goals I mentioned above.
What if we changed it so that our goal wasn't to be "sexy," but rather to be STRONG or FAST or FLEXIBLE or WELL TRAVELED. What if we had performance goals instead of aesthetic goals? Or what if we focused on getting our micronutrients instead of staying under a certain amount of calories? Or what if we focused on lowering our cholesterol or helping our bodies to age gracefully?
What I would love, instead, is to be in the bada** industry. I want to help encourage and equip women to be tougher, stronger, and more than they thought they could be. Not sure what that looks like when it comes to this blog and my online training business, but you're welcome to journey with me as I figure that out.