Being a part of the fitness industry has many pros and many cons. I love working in the fitness industry and will continue to be a part of it for the long unforeseeable future. But throughout my years as a ‘fitness pro‘, I have come across many interesting notions, opinions, experiences, and claims that are just flat out lies. I want to take time to uncover each of these common lies of the fitness industry and do my very best to “debunk” them. I try not to allow my own opinions and experiences to overcloud my writing, so I will be using the minds of other fitness professionals, experiences of clients/friends, and some written work of scholars to help reiterate my thoughts.
Your Body Isn’t Perfect… Yet
Whether subtle or straight to your face, body shaming is a tactic fitness professionals have been known to sometimes use. We’ll have you talk about your weight and how it makes you feel. Step on the scale, measure how much body fat you have, pretty much find every flaw you would like to have kept secret. Then we’ll ask where you would like to be. Have you imagine your perfect body. We want you to feel the need for change… to crave that perfection so much that you’re willing to do anything for it. It’s a great motivator in the start, but what happens when the client realizes how much time, effort, money, and sacrifice it takes? That initial body shaming motivator isn’t gonna hold up when you come across a road block.
I strive to allow the client to accept their current physique and fitness level first. Then, they can set short and long term goals to attain what they seek. But they must have a clear understanding what it will take and what they’re willing to do to get there. If you’re a busy mom or have a full-time job, are you willing to work out 6 days a week and plan/meal prep for every little thing you eat so that you can get that six pack? Doubtful. Sometimes we’re lucky my clients can eat scraps from their kids plate while vacuuming the living room.
Accept and love yourself where you are now. Recognize your desire to change. Know what you’re willing to do. Set goals and put a plan in place.
We Are Perfect
It can be easy to feel like the fitness industry is “perfect”…whatever that may mean in your mind. I’ll catch that look in people’s eyes when I’m talking about how I eat and exercise. The look of admiration, respect, maybe even jealousy. Because they think I have it all together. They think I eat clean, exercise every day as hard as I can, have a crazy awesome mentality, and never screw up.
Yes, I may have more figured out about health and wellness than the majority but that does not mean I am perfect. I find the more real and raw a fitness professional is, the more others are drawn to them. Fitness professionals need to be relatable. They need to take a second outside of their fit little world and look at the world through their client’s eyes. It can be scary as hell telling your ripped trainer that you “accidentally” ate three cookies last night. But what if that same trainer reminds you that setbacks can happen and consistency is key? That everyone has weak moments but fitness is a lifestyle and not an on or off switch?
Next time you walk into a gym and look at their staff in admiration or respect or jealousy… think about how they got there. What was their motivation to start teaching others how to live a healthy lifestyle? More often than not you’ll hear back stories of obesity, depression, low self-esteem, health issues, etc. from these very same ‘perfect‘ fitness professionals. We aren’t perfect, we’re just a little more ahead of the game. We’ve been in your shoes and want to help others now.
The growing world of Instagram trainers. Probably every qualified trainer’s pet peeve. Let me just be frank and get straight to the point… just because you have 25k+ followers and a nice body, doesn’t mean you are qualified to take on clients. And don’t even get me started on photo shop and the amount of body image disorders it creates (that’s for another blog post).
I’m not really sure when it became okay to sell training packages off a picture of a toned booty or six-pack. Or when said pictures or amount of followers were thought of in higher esteem than certifications and degrees.
One of the biggest lies of the fitness industry encircles social media these days. Just because you are a fit person, does not mean you are a fitness professional. Health is a very big deal and I don’t take it lightly that a lot of people are putting others’ health at risk because of these Instagram fitness programs. I have also seen regular members in my gym sell training under the table simply because someone appreciated their biceps. BICEPS AND BOOTYS DO NOT EQUAL A DEGREE PEOPLE.
Let’s all join hands and take a little vow… “I will not buy a $60 fitness program off my favorite instagrammer just because she takes nice pictures. I will not buy into these lies. I will take my health and wellness more seriously.”
All In or All Out
The all in or all out mentality is so very prevalent in the fitness world and I believe always has been. Not many people speak up about it because of embarrassment or the feeling that they’re the only ones. Well rest assured, you’re not alone. I can speak from personal experience that the all in or all out (all or nothing) mentality can completely ruin your fitness journey.
This is the idea that in order to be fit one must #eatclean & #trainmean #nodaysoff or else they’ve failed. It’s a mentality where you could feel so great about yourself Monday-Thursday because you only ate salad and you did 5 hours of cardio but you step on the scale Friday and you’ve only lost half a pound. Then you realize it’s not worth it. And instead of finding a fitness plan that’s sustainable, you resort to going “all out” again. This is where the scale fluctuates 5-10lbs every month and you never feel like you have a real grasp or control on your health.
No one wants to feel like this meme of ‘Fat Amy’ from Pitch Perfect (such a good movie).
Fitness is not all or nothing, all in or all out. It is a sustainable, maintainable, and enjoyable lifestyle. Once you stop worrying about being perfect and give yourself a chance, you will start reaching those goals. Would you rather be super ripped and shredded for about a month out of the year and then rebound back to where you were… Or would you like to have a happy and healthy lifestyle where you not only look but feel great? I choose the latter. So give yourself a break. You don’t have to be perfect to make progress.
Work Out Harder
Harder, faster, heavier, stronger, longer, etc. The misinformed mindset that your workout must be death in order for it to have made an impact. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place where intensity is a key factor. For instance, athletes training to meet certain bench marks in their careers. But for the average gym-goer who just wants to lose a couple pounds or gain a little muscle and feel good, it’s not necessary to feel sore or tired every minute of every day.
Let’s talk about science (don’t worry, I’ll try my best to keep it interesting). There are 3 key ways your body burns calories and therefore fat:
1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is how much energy your body requires at rest. This accounts for about 70% of the energy we expend each day!
2. Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF) is the energy it takes to digest, absorb, and assimilate food and nutrients. This accounts or about 10% of total daily energy expenditure.
3. And finally we get to physical activity, coming out to be another 10-25% of your total daily expenditure (25-30% being top-level athletes who train 2-3 times a day). Something that a lot of people forget about in this category is the importance of NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which is all the daily-life activities you may or may not realize take energy.
So if you made it out of that little science lesson alive, you can see that your workout isn’t as crucial to calorie burn as you once thought. It’s not a make or break situation whether you are dripping sweat, dying on the floor … or you simply got your heart pumping. CONSISTENCY is the key factor when it comes to working out. A workout schedule 4-5 days/week of moderate exercise will be much more beneficial than 1-2 days/week of crazy intensity. So next time you feel discouraged because you didn’t give your all; shake it off, congratulate yourself for showing up, and return the next day.
30 Pounds in 30 Days
1 pound of fat is 3,500 calories. So either you are in a deficit – using more calories than you consume, or you are in a surplus – saving/storing extra calories that you have not or will not use for immediate energy. We had a science lesson, now let’s have one in math.
Say you consume exactly 2,000 calories per day (which is never the case because there are even errors while tracking to a T). Then you workout for an hour every day as well and burn up to 600 calories each day doing that. Well, your maintenance caloric intake (the amountof calories you use just being you) is 2,000 calories (which you consume exactly) and you’re burning up to 600 extra calories per day through your workout. Therefore, after a consistent week of this you would have had to use an extra 4,200 calories. Congratulations, you lost a pound! (IN 7 DAYS)…
Your body does not want to lose fat. Fat is safety for your body. It regulates hormones, protects organs, and keeps us warm. If we didn’t have fat we’d be in big trouble. So you see, it’s hard to burn fat. It’s not a simple snap of the finger. It takes a good amount of planning and effort… and even then, it must be a slow and healthy process. Losing fat is much different than losing water weight. The number on the scale could change because you’re doing a crazy amount of cardio and eating less than a rabbit, but that is mainly water weight and will have no effect on your body composition.
Side note: The good news is, the opposite is true as well. Your body doesn’t necessarily want to gain fat (thank goodness). It wants to use the calories you consume. But if you’re in a consistent caloric surplus, you will start to gain weight. Keep in mind though, a pound of fat is 3,500 calories. So unless you’re consuming 6 extra Big Macs a day on top of the food you normally eat, you won’t be gaining fat as quickly as you think.
Programs that draw people in with click bait or tag lines like, “Lose 30lbs in 30 days!” Or “Shredded six-pack in less than a week!” are really just ploys to get you to hand over your money quickly. The marketers want you to forget about common sense and just think of how fast, accessible, and awesome it sounds. I must admit, I’ve fallen for a few things similar in my past. I might have even hit my goal and thought that program was a lifesaver. But guess what… I fell right back within weeks or months of the program ending. I never learned the balance or knowledge it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I just wanted to look great and see my weight drop quickly. Nowadays I think about how much time, money, and emotional trauma I could’ve saved back then if I had just learned the reality of weight loss and been patient with myself.
Pills and potions… man it’d be great if these worked, right? The fact of the matter is, no matter how many garcinia cambogia pills or apple cider vinegar you force down your throat, these will not bring about results when it comes to weight loss. The company can throw out all sorts of benefits that may or may not be true, but the only real way to lose weight and look great is to exercise and eat right. You know it, I know it, they know it… but we just want to believe in these magic solutions so bad. This is gonna be a shortly explained topic because I’m sorry to say there is just no silver lining. Magic diet solutions promising guaranteed, long-lasting results are a fat lie.
Everyone is Judging You
“She gave me a look, she’s probably thinking about how out of shape I am.” “I don’t fit in with these buff guys, maybe I should just stay home.” “I don’t know how to use most of these machines so I’m just going to stay away so I don’t look dumb.” “Geez that girl’s just wearing a bra, she’s so much more confident than I am.”
I’m sure more real-life instances popped into your head while reading those. They’re just a few examples of people feeling like everyone is judging them at the gym.
Let me tell you this now before I go on… Nobody cares. I used to think people were watching me all the time. I would feel self conscious most days constantly thinking about what others were thinking while I was exercising.
Let’s stop this nonsense. The gym should be a place of safety, self-acceptance, and holistic health. This means you’re not only working on yourself physically but also mentally, emotionally, socially, etc. There’s no time for you to be caught up in what others think. In most cases, the person you’re worried about that you think is judging you is probably worried that you’re judging her. So let’s all agree to not worry and not care.
Every one of those fit freaks started somewhere. Everybody has a unique and special story. People go to the gym for all sorts of different reasons and end up doing all sorts of different things there. Maybe cardio is your release from a stressful home life. Perhaps lifting weights makes you feel in control of your circumstances. Honestly some people are just motivated to look good naked. Hey, whatever your driving factor… keep at it. Don’t let anyone tell you no or that you’re not good enough. The only person who truly knows you is YOU.
So I might have missed a few lies of the fitness industry but this post wasn’t intended to point out every single tiny flaw. It was to simply make you aware. If you’d like to read a lot more about nutrition, health, and wellness; my go-to source is Precision Nutrition. I recently was sent an awesome article that helps differentiate between belief systems/wishful thinking and science. Check it out if you like to learn!
There are hundreds of reasons why the fitness industry is awesome but again, that’s a post for another time. I believe the fitness industry has the power to save lives. I am so incredibly blessed to be a part of something so inspiring. I hope you take with you what you have learned in order to better your life as well as the lives of those around you. It’s about living a healthy lifestyle, whatever that may mean for you!
Let me know in the comments below whether you could relate to any of these fitness lies (or if you thought of any more while reading). If you’re comfortable, please share so others might feel comforted & grow from your experiences!
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