Exercise isn't new to me. I've been dabbling in the hard stuff since as long as I can remember. There were times I opted out, felt in love with it, hated it, and so on. I finally feel like my relationship with exercise is a positive one. We've excepted each other as life partners. Movement gives me the gift of oxygen. I get all my best ideas mid work-out. Exercise also brings me strength so I can continue doing the things I love well into my golden years. Working out supports my mental health. I'm not scientifically sure what it does for my hormones (we should ask Beth) but I know when I don't move often enough I just don't feel my best.
Over the years I've been to many fitness classes with a variety of trainers. Of course, no two trainers are the same. However, many of them say things, or rather shout them at the group while I'm mid-burpee or mountain climber. I'd like to discuss these "motivational statements" and propose that we find a better way to motivate each other in an effort to improve our culture and community.
For example, just today I attended a class and the trainer shouted several times, "THINK ABOUT ALL THAT TURKEY YOU'RE GOING TO EAT!" I guess it seems innocent and logical enough. Haven't we been taught that our ideal level of fitness is simply obtained by adhering to a scientific, calories in/calories out, system? So, therefore, if I burn more calories today I'm off the hook for Thanksgiving, right? Yeah, no, not exactly.
You might be shocked and maybe even reluctant to learn that this just isn't the way nutrition works. Of course, if you don't move at all for many days or even weeks then you choose to celebrate hard on Thanksgiving and through the New Year, you're probably not going to feel your best by Valentine's day. But, aren't you tired of either feeling too restricted or completely out-of-control? Do you want to believe that you have to "earn" your food, like a dog earns his treats for tricks? For me, that's a hard no. There is a middle sustainable ground that isn't torture and keeps you feeling tip-top.
There's another reason that this lovely trainer's "motivational cheer" felt uninspired and unmotivating. I kept thinking, "Turkey?! Really lady, that's probably one of the healthiest choices on a Thanksgiving table." I tried to edit her statement in my mind. "Oh, forget her, think about the pie instead." I was still frustrated, and the motivation was lost on me because I don't "earn" what I eat. This false logic is old school and I'm no longer subscribing to it.
Then, I thought about the people in my class. Are they buying into this? Will they modify their exercise and eating behaviors based on this old school and false belief? Sure, maybe they did push harder in their mountain climbers but what was the take away about food? Food is our friend, not something we have to earn.
This is for the trainers, fitness influencers, and all people that eat food. I'm requesting that we shift into a different way of motivating each other and promoting nutrition. We are role models and people are listening to what you say. Yes, YOU. If you say something about food or nutrition, I promise someone is listening. You might influence a child, your friends and coworkers without even realizing it.
I know that these statements are often said tongue in cheek. Yet, we have a legit cultural crisis on our hands. People ages 5-99, of all genders and backgrounds suffer from body image issues which may lead to disordered eating behavior (not necessarily a full blown eating disorder), which may lead to malnutrition, low quality of life, and even early onset disease and injuries. This damaging culture is devastatingly common, if not mainstream. YOU have the power to flip the script.
If you read this far and already forgot what you just learned or somehow you skipped to this paragraph, don't worry, this is all you need to remember. Food gives us energy, pleasure, and community. Food is a part of life. Movement is an equally important part of life. We do not "earn" food through movement.
This will take practice and I am confident we can all find nutritional freedom together.
TRY IT NOW! In the comments below share a positive motivational statement that you would respond well to. What would keep you going in the gym when you feel like giving up?