The health and fitness industry loves the the hashtag #noexcuses. I see my peers using it all the time. They tag motivational posts about 100 year-old men running 100m races. They use it to show off their beautiful and tastey looking healthy lunches on Instagram. They use it on their posts about their 5am pre-work 20-mile run in the dark. They use it to show their 6-week postpartum client deadlifting 75kg already, before she goes back to breastfeeding her child.
And you know what, all these things are fucking brilliant! You go, mum! Hey grandpa, you are a bloody inspiration. And yes, your lunch looks DELICIOUS and puts my shitty carrot and lentil soup to shame.
But your hashtag can jog on. If it was an animal, I'd euthanise it.
Because what is supposed to be motivational and inspirational is often just another way to enable people to feel shitty about themselves: for the new mum who's struggling to walk after giving birth and hasn't slept in 6 weeks and feels gross - she's almost too tired to care but not quite; for the teenage boy who desperately wants big biceps, but isn't really sure why and is too shy to go and curl 6kg in the gym because the big lads are curling 30kg; for the 60-year-old because he's just lost his wife and doesn't know what to do with himself and can't face taking his daily walk alone.
There are infinite reasons why people don't make healthy choices every day. And YES, they ARE choices. I am not debating that. For anyone who thinks they are too busy to invest in their health I can give them a millions reasons why they should and a tonne of tactics to try to make it happen. And YES I HEAR YOU, FITNESS PEOPLE, we all feel better once we've been for a run or turned down a second piece of cheesecake (ok I wouldn't know, I've never done that but I imagine I'd feel pretty virtuous if I did).
It just concerns me that the #noexcuses is pretty inspirational to those of us already enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, but for the very people we hope will join us, it can have the opposite affect - it can be shaming and demotivational, particularly at the crucial moments in people's journeys. That period a few weeks or months in, when their weight loss begins to slow, unhelpful habits start creeping back and they need encouragement, not shamed for having an off day and eating a pizza and a cheesecake (ok 2 slices of cheesecake) and skipping a week of workouts cos they felt a bit down about life stuff.
Look, this has turned into a big rant and I don't mean it to be really - I just want the fitness industry to be mindful that one size doesn't fit all. Sometimes people do have excuses - sometimes they are sick or tired or really busy, or they just cannot be arsed. And that's fine. We have our whole lives to work on ourselves and for many people, reassurance works better than shame. Yes we must take responsibility for the consequences of our choices and change is very hard work - we are not going to get slimmer or healthier or muscle-ier or faster by sitting about moaning about our boss and eating crisps. But every single person is different and what can be motivating for some can have the opposite affect for others. And that's why you won't hear those words from me any time soon.
What do you think? What motivates you and what stops you from doing a workout?
I've been writing a blog about how we fight ourselves for 4 weeks. It's doing my head in so I finally stopped fighting it and myself and decided to leave it for a while!
And since it's December and all my friends are Christmas mad and I have a thing about After Eights, Bendicks of Mayfair, selection boxes and Port, I figured I'd write a wee post on staying on track (or not) over the festive period.
It's estimated that we consume around 4000 calories on Christmas Day, which is around about double what most of us need in a day! But what about all the other days in December - the Christmas parties, the leftovers, the social catch-ups with friends we've not seen since last December?
So it's Monday, you've done a class, you've had a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacked on fruit and veggies. You keep it up until Thursday night when you get home and have a cheeky large glass of wine and some crisps (400 calories) But hey! It's nearly the weekend!
Friday comes around and there's cake at work cos it was half price on the Co-op and it calls to you. A wee slice maybe, it's Friday! Plus your boss has been a nightmare so you go out for a few drinks with your colleagues, which turns into 5 glasses of wine and a pizza on the way home (1500 calories). If you're a parent maybe it just means putting the kids to bed and sharing a bottle of wine and a takeaway, before passing out on the sofa.
Saturday morning rolls around and you feel like shit so it's a bacon roll and Irn Bru (500 calories). Lunch with your mum and dinner with friends and you're out of your usual good eating habits. Throw in Sunday lunch and from Thursday night to Sunday you might have consumed an extra 3500 calories than you would have done on Monday - Thursday morning.
And that's about 1lb of fat. Do this every week and that's an extra 5lb in December.
I've dramatised this for laughs but really, it's kind of us isn't it? I have been known to do this, not just in December but for years on end. It's easy to do. And the weight creeps on.
And whilst it's easy for me to write a list of all the ways you can be an angel over Christmas and stick to your low-carb-paleo-Atkins-beachbody-cleanlean-spaceman diet, and feel totally worthy and superior, is that really much fun?
I'll tell you one thing. I am cracking open the champagne and After Eights at 8.01am on Christmas morning. Fact.
But, if we want to make changes to our lifestyle, if we want to lose weight, if we want to keep up with our kids for a wee bit longer before they stick us in an old folks home, we have to compromise. I'm sorry. Pizza and wine makes us put on weight, unless we're training like and Olympian. There's no getting around it!
So, here are some tips to help you enjoy the season of excess without adding too many excess pounds.
And remember - even if you do put on a couple of extra pounds, you know you can lose them again. Enjoy your life. It's way too short to be starving yourself or feeling guilty for a bit of overindulge once a year. Just try to stay on track as much as you can. Forgive yourself if you put on weight or overindulge, remind yourself why you are on this fitness journey and carry on with your original plan.
Any other ideas or tips?