I wanted to talk about shame today – particularly in fitness culture.
I personally dislike aggressive/hardcore “fitspiration” (so-called inspirational quotes and images) that pretty much shame people for not meeting certain standards.
I don’t find them inspiring or helpful to the majority of people. They make most people feel bad about themselves and like a loser if they are not super disciplined or cannot attain the perfect body of a fitness model.
- “If you don’t work for it, you probably don’t deserve it” – Do not even know what to say to this…
- “Are you sure you want that cookie?” (With a picture of a beautiful model who probably eats cookies anyways.) – By the way, you can eat a cookie and get in shape.
- You can have results or excuses” – You can, in fact, try hard and get no or little results if your strategy is wrong or for other reasons.
- “You can feel sore tomorrow – or sorry tomorrow – You chose” – Pain is often not gain. A measured approach can be more effective.
- “Be known as the fit friend, not the lazy one” – You can be unfit and still not lazy – and even if you are lazy you are not a bad person. That’s not your identity and your worth.
- “How do you want to feel this summer? Fit or jealous?” – Maybe you have other priorities right now and that is ok too.
And they go on and on and on…
I get that they originated and propagated by the bodybuilding industry which is more hardcore but it has filtered into the mainstream fitness culture over the years via social media and Instagram personalities.
Do not misunderstand me though. I don’t believe you have to pander to people or sugar coat everything that you say. We need to have hard conversations and talk straight. I am actually a fan of some tough love.
But a firm and powerful message can be achieved without belittling anyone who falls short.
We need more positive messages of inspiration that build people up rather than cut them down.
These aggressive kinds of messages can, in fact, prevent people from even starting or trying. It creates a culture of elitism to belong.
People tend to make themselves feel bad enough already. They don’t need extra help.
We do not know what is happening in people’s lives. We never know their story and their struggles. This journey can be a complex minefield for many people.
There are plenty of people that work their butts off and will NEVER look like models for various reasons…and that’s ok!
Parents, for example, must say tough and necessary things to their kids but can do so without shaming them. My mother would not talk to me for a whole weekend if I played badly in a sports match. This made me feel like I was a terrible person. It made me hate the game and myself. Maybe if she had communicated in a different style I would have been more motivated to play better and enjoyed the game more.
The last thing we need when people are on a journey to grow and improve themselves is to make them feel crap about themselves.
This applies to personal trainers and coaches too. I’ve heard some disappointing stories of how clients are shamed.
It’s all just another form of bullying.
I feel that we need more positive statements. Of course, these fitspo’s are not going away. So when you see them, take them with a pinch of protein powder 😉
But here is a powerful thought – I believe that we take the highest offence to things we ourselves believe to be true. They touch a nerve. So for example, if something or someone suggests that you lazy and it stings – THEN it’s highly likely that you believe this to be true of yourself.
Often times the person most likely to think you are a loser is YOU.
So start there. Fix your internal conversations and you’ll become bulletproof to all this external crap.
Now go and be awesome no matter what your level or goal is! Just do the best you can with what you have.
Want to watch something TRULY inspiring? Watch this INCREDIBLE 2 min video. You will thank me!