This week I’m exercising the right to tackle some of the fitspo related messages being thrown around on social media that have given me cause for concern.
I’m sure you’re all aware of the common quote:
‘Wow, I really regret that workout said no one ever’.
The first time I read this quote I was like OMG how true! Working out makes me feel alive, energised and strong. It’s a great way to clear the mind and it helps me personally to get a good night sleep. Of course, it’s no secret that exercise is amazing for our health and wellbeing, and I’d be lying too if I said that it wasn’t an integral part of my weekly routine. I love attending new classes in London, as well as reaching new personal goals in the gym. I know I am also not alone in my love hate relationship with kettle bells and deadlifts. In the UK alone, the fitness industry’s market value reached £4.4 billion in 2016, and 1 in 7 people in the UK is a member of a gym (Leisure DB, 2016). Clearly, we all want in on the post workout buzz and this for the most part is a great thing, BUT what about when it goes too far.
#fitspiration, #bikinibody and urghh macros are becoming hugely prevalent on social media, encouraging us to make sure we get to the gym at all costs, because after all, an hour in the gym is only 1% of your day right??
Further, many fitspo icons modelling chiseled abs and leaned toned physiques are promoting up to two hard core boutique fitness classes a day, not forgetting hot yoga circa 7pm just to stretch before bed. We’re going totally NUTSSS over protein powder – vegan of course because whey will likely cause your skin to breakout, spending a fortune on active wear and we like to swan around in crop tops even when the weather’s totally freezing just cause!
Ok back track a bit….
I do not want to suggest what any of these people are doing is necessarily wrong. Indeed, if I had the peach of all peaches maybe I’d be more inclined to exercise half naked. Additionally, I know many of these people are actually personal trainers so they have chosen a career based on their passion for working out and are showing an insight into their day – this is totally admirable. I do not want to knock these people for their achievements, their priorities or their bodies. What I want to say is that it isn’t the norm, it isn’t even necessarily healthy and you shouldn’t feel inadequate if your body, uniquely beautiful in its own right, wasn’t designed for high intensity workouts or washer board abs.
Returning back to the infamous quote, ‘Wow, I really regret that workout said no one ever’, I want to show that this can be damaging, especially when coupled with this fitness ideal that doesn’t always work in the context of the instagram scroller. The quote is harmful because it implies that regardless of feeling tired, or down or stressed, we must turn to the gym to blow of steam. If we have committed to a programme it also indirectly suggests that if we decided instead to skip the gym, we would be weak, lazy and a likely, a total failure.
Personal story here, IT IS POSSIBLE TO REGRET A WORKOUT! I have done so several times, but actually I had an experience more recently that inspired this post. Post my nutrition exam at CNM I was totally exhausted. I’d been preparing seriously for 3 weeks, training regularly but working extremely hard at my desk day in day out. To celebrate freedom, I went to one of my favourites Franco Manca with friends, which turned out to be a joyous evening of sourdough pizza with goats curd and watercress pesto, and glass after glass of red wine as we giggled and lost track of time. The next morning I awoke with a slightly fuzzy head, nothing too serious but it would have been well worth my while to enjoy a long lie in, perhaps read a few pages of my book and replenish my system with a delicious breakfast. But alas, I had scheduled in a workout, so I hauled my fuzzy head, and equally fuzzy body to the gym. The result was catastrophic. My body was in fairness a little bit hungover, but mostly I was just totally exhausted from the exam, the adrenalin and the long days of revising. I totally regretted the workout. I could barely run, I felt weak so the whole thing was a total waste of time, however, even more seriously I was cross at myself for not listening to and respecting my body.
Although I know I don’t have a problem when it comes to this, exercise addiction is a serious and dangerous condition. It can be easy to get hooked on pushing ourselves physically, when actually we’re causing more harm than good. It IS possible to regret a workout and what’s more the gym can’t solve all our problems. It might alleviate some of the symptoms, but a lot of our worries and anxieties have to be dealt with off the treadmill. Further, staying healthy can be as simple as just getting in a bit of a walk everyday, it’s ok if weights or boxing aren’t for you at all, and they are only part and parcel of a healthy active lifestyle not the be all and end all. Find out what works for you and don’t succumb to some of the powerful ploys on social media that lure us into our trainers no matter what. Most importantly, listen to your body. There is a huge difference between being lazy and truly respecting our body’s needs. Sometimes skipping a workout is the healthiest thing we can do, and I’ll tell you want – “I really respect listening to my body said – no one ever”!