You’ve Been Lied To

Recently I talked about the prevalence of “should goals” I tend to see in the area of health and fitness.  While I believe I have said enough on the topic of goals lately, I have yet to discuss the various factors associated with why these goals are chosen and I feel that this is worthy of some attention.

I’m going to come right out and say it, you’ve been lied to.  You have always been lied to.  And, you will most likely continue to be lied to.

The best diet. 

The best exercise program. 

The must-have piece of exercise equipment.

The one dietary supplement that will cure all your problems. 

The best-looking body. 

It’s ALL a bunch of nonsense!

As I write this, it saddens me to say that many of us in the health and fitness industry have failed you.  The very people who are supposed to and proclaim to have your best intentions at heart oftentimes do not.  

I see it everywhere.

Just about every time I’m in a supermarket checkout line, there are magazine covers stating “quick and easy” fixes to lose weight, burn fat, and get a flat stomach.  Have you noticed how it’s always “quick and easy”?  

Well, that’s great but after doing this for a pretty long time, I can tell you it’s never quick and easy.  At least when working with real people.

Would you pick up a magazine or book that read, “lose your excess weight and flatten your stomach over the next 12 months by slowly replacing less healthy habits with more healthy habits and doing so consistently over time”?  I didn’t think so.

However, this is precisely the reason you are continually being lied to.  You’re being told what you want to hear and not what you need to hear.  Losing weight is not an impossible task.  It’s just not as easy as it’s made out to be.  It always entails more than just eat more of this, less of that, take this and do that.

When you’re constantly being bombarded with how quick and easy something should be, it’s no surprise you’ll start to think that way too.  After a lifetime of seeing and hearing this kind of messaging, it’s no wonder we all feel like failures!

Before I move off of the magazine covers, let’s take a second and consider the models.  Did you know that in many cases you are seeing the same model’s body on multiple magazine covers just with different photoshopped heads?  

Would it surprise you to learn that some of these cover models eat cotton balls in order to curb their appetite just for your viewing pleasure?

When you see those magazine covers, also keep in mind that these individuals only tend to look that way for a very short period of time (like the days leading up to and during the photoshoot), after which time they will proceed to chow down.  

A little-known secret – it’s virtually impossible to look and live “magazine ready” for any length of time.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget about all the airbrushing taking place too.

Now, you might not want to necessarily look like these models, but you have been told that it’s normal and healthy and therefore you could and should look this way AND that it should be quick and easy to do so.

You’ve been sold an unrealistic and impossible standard to live up to.  This isn’t inspiring and motivational, it’s flat-out dishonest, and hurtful.  It leads to an “I’m not good enough mentality” when good enough is not even achievable by healthy standards.  As an industry, we should be helping instead of hurting, and you’ll have a hard time convincing me of how this is helping.

As I sat down to write this article, it was with the intention to highlight the fact that there is no universal best of anything for everyone.  This didn’t exactly happen so I will get more into that another time.  Instead, the more I look around and observe and the more conversations that I have, I’m left with the feeling there are many out there who view themselves as not “good enough” as viewed through “ideal” societal health and fitness standards.

If that happens to be you, you are not alone and you’re more normal than you think.  Going forward, I hope you have a heightened awareness of how what you read, see, and hear could be affecting you in terms of how you view yourself.  What appears real isn’t always real, or at least, realistic.

While best a topic for another day, we could probably all use a little more self-acceptance and compassion, and a little less self-criticism and judgment.