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Demotivational Fitness Memes

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I've had a blog going in my head (I can't be the only person who does this, right? Reads something, experiences something, sees something, whatever, and starts mentally writing a blog that I never seem to find the time to actually sit down and write?) for a few months now... I even started writing it awhile back but it ended up being such an angry messy thing that I scrapped it as, well, too demoralizing and whiny.

But essentially, it was a rant of frustration at some of the messages I've seen going around on facebook, sparks, pinterest, and similar sites.... quotes or memes that are supposedly inspirational but make me want to stab something.

Example... I can't count the number of times I've seen the motivational phrase "the only workout I regret is the one I didn't do." And it frustrates me every time because, face it, I *have* regretted work outs. Repeatedly. I did this just recently--I tried a core workout challenge and didn't realize until I had finished that it really messed up my hip and knee (yeah, not doing that particular one again any time soon--this was last Wed. I think and my hip/knee STILL hurt. To be fair to both me and the person who posted this particular challenge, if I had realized it was going to be a problem I would have done something different and she would have been okay with that--the goal was a stronger core, not debilitating joint pain. So Kal, *please* don't feel guilty!!! Because it is in no way your fault!!! It's not even my fault, since my body didn't let me know it was a bad idea until too late.) I get it that my messed up joints are not necessarily representative... but they aren't THAT unusual on sparks, either; I can't be the only person who tried a workout and the body went "you shouldn't have done that." I wish that these inspiration memes and motivational quotes had more emphasis on things like listening to your body, and that slow and steady can let you climb mountains. One of the best motivational things I ever read was in the The Spark, where he talks about a woman who started "exercising" by just walking to her post office box and back to get her mail. From there, she started walking farther--maybe around the block, than a half, mile, etc. That small change led to bigger changes--she got stronger, fitter, and lost weight, and she did it without pushing her body to the breaking point. And that's just one example.

Then I found this blog, and it said everything I was trying to say, and it says it so very well. So I just had to share it with you.


Seriously. For example, the one about the pride? I'm proud of where I am now. I'm not where I want to be--not yet--but why should I be ashamed when I worked hard to reclaim my body and my life, worked hard to get where I am in school, worked hard to change my diet to make it healthier, etc.? And the one about anorexia/exercise anorexia... I was just talking to my husband about this the other day. He wasn't happy when I told him I had discovered that it was all too easy for me to flip that switch. Please note--I have *not* flipped this switch. I'm very careful that I *do not* flip this switch (this is one of the reasons why I think fasting diets are a very bady idea for me--though the main reason being the fact that I get physically shaky, impatient, and ill if I go too long without food). But when you are a control freak--at least when it comes to yourself, not necessarily other people--who is incredibly stubborn and doesn't get reliable hunger cues--yeah, all too easy. It's even easier when you're doing all the right things but still can't lose weight, and people who mean well keep telling you that if you only showed a little discipline you could lose that weight--I can be disciplined, right? It's all too easy to fall into a negative relationship with food and view ALL food as bad when no matter what you do, you still gained 20 pounds in one year, especially when food isn't all that appealing anyway. Thankfully, I recognized this early on--it's one of the reasons I strongly resist the term diet (at least as in "specific diet to lose weight" as opposed to "food I eat"), why I have made myself pay attention to the limits of my body, why I decided to focus on positive changes rather than deprivations (drink more tea rather than no pop, for example), etc. And I can at least say that I cannot exercise myself to anorexia because my body will break first (literally, when I first hurt my hip, I'd just fall down because it couldn't support my weight. Which can be scary when it happens on stairs and you have a backpack full of books. Thankfully, I managed to not hurt myself more than I already was). I don't want to ever experience that ever again.... so I watch my limits.

But telling me that I should push myself farther than I think I can go, that I'm not doing enough, etc.... these are not positive inspirational messages, even if they are well intended.

Instead I have made a very deliberate choice that my path will be one of moderation, flexibility, and small, gradual changes. I have focused on eating healthy foods I like (thankfully, it's not hard for me to find healthy foods I like) and active past times that I find fun, so it's not all about weight loss. This does mean that I still sometimes eat refined sugar, or fast food, or processed foods--not all the time, but sometimes. It means that I have days when my workouts are little more than my PT strength training and stretches because my body says that's all it can handle. It means I *have* to have 2 days of rest every week--which means real rest, not "light" activity--because I know my hip and knee need that extra time to recover. It means I tell myself if I go to the gym and I still don't feel up to exercising (since half the time getting to the gym is the hard part, LOL), I can come home and not feel guilty about it (and I have had days where I did just that. It only took 1 acute migraine that kicked in when I was working out to teach me that it was okay sometimes to stop).

Which is not to say that I'm against inspiration memes and stories--I love them! I collect them on pinterest, read and sometimes share them on facebook and on sparks (more so when I had more time, sadly). These are part of what keeps me going when I'm struggling. I even like the idea of strong being sexy--I want to be strong. But I've made the personal decision that I am going to focus on strong and healthy and not worry about skinny--the unhealthy excess belly fat needs to back off, but beyond that? I am okay with it. A healthy woman has about 20% body fat. I can live with a little softness. So I do not confuse strong with skinny--skinny would be nice, don't get me wrong, but I'd rather be strong and healthy than skinny.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    You better be standing proud and tall because you have come so far and I never, ever want you to do anything that is going to cause you a setback sweetie. I am not feeling guilty but I sure am wondering how one is supposed to strengthen their core based on my experience with my challenge so far. You are an inspiration! emoticon
    2838 days ago
    Yes. THIS! I have regretted many a workout myself, and like you, I often don't know it was too much until it is too late. Also loved the link! Thank you for writing this!
    2838 days ago
    If I could reach through this screen and hug both you and the guy who posted that link, I would. This is what everyone, especially women and those who love them, should read. This is not about looking like anyone else-this is about being the best person you can be. This is about being a healthier person, however that looks on YOUR body. If that means that there's still some jiggle (like on me), hey, why should we be ashamed of that? Every shape, every person, is beautiful. Enough said.

    This reminds me of an article I recently read in Yoga Journal, written by a larger woman who practices yoga, and is often told that she doesn't *look like the type who does yoga*. It infuriates her, and me too, that people think there is a *type* for any kind of activity. This is all so personal, and every journey and person has merit. The media tries to manipulate us into thinking that there is only one type of beautiful, which is so wrong.

    Sorry, kinda got off onto a rant tangent there! Thanks for this blog, this is something that really needs to be said, over and over and over again.
    2842 days ago
    I had to laugh when I read the link you shared. If you stop to think about it, it does sound ridiculous. Pushing is good but you shouldn't push past pain or past injuries/health problems.

    I'm glad you posted this. Thank you.

    My goal is to lose weight in a healthy way. Not by putting in 2hrs a day in the gym or by starving myself(works every time!). I am past that. I want to be HEALTHY. It's taking longer than I want but my body seems to be slowly adapting to it. The habits I want to make my own are slowly becoming part of my every day life.
    2842 days ago
  • EILEEN828
    I always have to chuckle when I see posters like that. They are so obviously manipulative. They are either doing their best to create an "I'm better than all of you" typecast or they are trying to sell sex. They reek of male perspective. The idea that the only thing of value in a person is their 'body' is so juvenile. If you actually managed to produce such a psyche you would have to be incredibly immature and completely narcissistic. Pretty much a non-successful way to trudge through life, which is what you realize when you finally reach your breaking point because you're so lonely. I love the idea of being physically fit, and see value in putting effort into achieving and maintaining a healthy body. But pushing and dwelling on being an extreme example of the human body is generally a waste of time and energy, better spent on helping others. I'll take normal every time!
    2843 days ago
  • 4CYNDI
    I've missed your blogs. Love this one. It has such a great message and reminder that pushing is not always best. Rest has become a 4 letter word in many cases. It is hard for me to slow down and just rest. Listening to the body is key. Doing what you can NOW is all that matters. I've seen those sayings, poster and such. Shook my head and thought, yeah, maybe if you're 20 and don't have other health issues.

    There are workouts I've regretted, but mostly like you, when I didn't listen to my body and stop before I pushed too hard. It's tough to be the one who sees everyone else losing like crazy and exercising so intensely and not be able to do it.

    I also agree with the word diet meaning. For me my diet is what I choose to eat. Yes, I'm following a gluten free diet right now, as I feel better when I eat that way. But, if my body liked the food and used it well & it made me feel good I would eat it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    2843 days ago
    Love your blog!! I so relate to what you are saying. It's hard to defend a more rational approach and changes to people some times. It's like, LOOK, I'm doing it, I'm going to get there, this is what is a healthy challenge for ME. And I think setting our own goals of what our idea of healthy is is so crucial. It's setting me up for a huge let down if I feel like I will need to look at a certain, RIPPED AND SKINNY way when i reach my goal weight. What I want and need is a body that I feel good about, and I'll know it when I have it, not when I have xyz perfect muscle and measurements.
    2843 days ago
  • FUNGIRL81005
    Thanks for sharing!! I was laughing a little to start and then it hit me!! I believe this CRAP too!!! I have seen these pictures...and believed that i had to look like that to be loved and wanted....and I needed to look like that to be SUCCESSFUL!!! Thank you for reminding me!!
    2843 days ago
    emoticon blog, this is a confirmation to me in regards to running. I suffer from plantar fasciitis. Because I opt to push myself to the limits I'm back in more pain. I was praying as the Holy Spirit said.... no you need to back away and rest. Let that go! What are you trying to prove by continuing to work through injuries/pain.

    I'm taking it moment by moment doing what's BETTER for me. I may never run but it has not hindered me from getting to my goals. But I'm stronger and healthier than I have ever been. And I'm pleased

    2843 days ago
  • MAIM138
    100% agree! Those pictures of headless women who are most likely professional body builders or models are giving us a false sense of what we "should" look like just the same as all the pictures of the waify models gave us eating disorders as young girls.

    One of my favorite bloggers is Chichi Kix: http://fitvillains.tumblr.com/
    BR>Her blog is fitness-focused, but body positive and she often says a lot of the same things you did.
    2843 days ago
    The Spark and the Spark approach totally support what you're saying here, Zanna. We are, however, in a culture where PUSH and pain have come back into vogue in the exercise world. I just let it roll - stick to your guns, know you have support on Azure, know you have support from your husband and friends and be PROUD and happy. There you GO! emoticon
    2843 days ago
    That was a great article. Thanks for sharing!
    2843 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8634484
    How I totally agree with you Zanna. It's taken me 40 years to find what works for me, and now I have the 'holy grail' I no longer need to focus on it, and don't need badgering or cajolling to keep me going, it just annoys me. I don't need to be skinny, at my age it would look dreadful, but I do want to be fit. When I was away, my daughter said that she loved the fact that I was first there, and always up for anything, and that's what I want out of life. I also will not demonize foods, and I will eat what I please! So keep up the good work, for you, and great blog!
    2843 days ago
    Great blog! Thanks for posting the link. Very well written. I've always sorta sneered at those and moved on. I never thought of how they could actually be harmful to others, especially young girls. Boy, the body image stuff just never quits, does it?
    2844 days ago
    emoticon skill to take what you like and what doesn't work for you behind!

    I share your strong and healthy goal.
    2844 days ago
    Thanks for the blog link. That is awesome! Everybody's STRONG is different. Even Spark recognizes we are all not cut from the same cloth. That is what makes this site so great :o)
    2844 days ago
    Strong and healthy is my goal, too.
    2844 days ago
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