Fit vs. Fiction's Blog


Calorie Counts on Menus are Misleading and Dangerous. Don’t Be Fooled!

 

Last week I wrote about my complete disgust and anger over the recent law that was passed in Ontario making calories on restaurant menus mandatory. I explained how this type of action will not only be useless in helping those it’s intended for, but will actually cause damage to countless others.
My article resulted in 3 different reactions from people:
1. Thank you! I thought I was the only one that felt this way and was really upset by it!
2. I never thought of it that way; that totally makes sense.
3. I like it. Now that I know how many calories are in something, I’ll know if I can eat it or not.

Sadly, the government is appealing to that last group of people, the ones who have had the same message shoved down their throats (pun partially intended) their entire lives. That message being: Calories are BAD.

But are they?

It’s time to readjust our thinking and look at all the facts!
After publishing my last article, I heard from so many people, from all walks of life who are really upset about this and question the government’s motivations, because it sure as hell can’t be to make Canadians healthier!
For those who are still confused, I’m going to list as clearly as I can, HOW this law is more HARMFUL than helpful.
WHO is this hurting?
1. People battling obesity and other related illnesses
2. People battling eating disorders
3. Everyone else
1. The people it is intended to help, the people who are at risk for illnesses related to obesity, are getting misleading information that will only impede their best efforts.
2. The people who are battling eating disorders and whose disorders thrive on calorie counts and who are at severe risk of relapse every time they’re faced with a number next to their food options.
Eating disorders are extremely misunderstood and far more dangerous than most people realize. They have the HIGHEST mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Calorie counting is a weapon of the disorder, not a tool of recovery.
If you’re wondering why the government should care about a small minority of the population dealing with eating disorders, you should know that the number of sufferers is much higher than you’d expect, and this law pretty much guarantees that that number will continue to rise.

But it’s not just ED sufferers who are at risk; so are you. I am consistently hearing from people who are sharing with me, how even though they’ve never been super focused on calorie counts when eating out, they’re surprised at how much anxiety these menus are inducing. They can no longer simply go into a restaurant and order what they’re craving, without feeling the need to second guess their choice and possibly choose something they “should Have’ over what they “want” to have. All that does is suck the joy out of dining out and make people feel lousy about food. We’re supposed to listen to our hunger cues, not ignore them and then risk overcompensating later on when left unsatisfied by our “healthier” choice. Our society already has warped ideas when it comes to food and dieting, this is only making things worse.
So many parents are sickened by watching their kids suddenly start focusing on and worrying about menu numbers when out for dinner. Kids are already being inundated with negative messages about body image and weight from the media, this is the last thing they need.
What’s the ministry of health thinking??
According to health minister Deb Matthews, The law is designed to combat childhood obesity.
And yet, according to research stated in a petition opposing this law, started by Andrea Lamarre, co- chair of the Waterloo Wellington Eating Disorders Coalition , it will have the opposite effect:
According to the research: “Those who are most targeted by such initiatives may actually be at a greater risk of developing eating disorders. A recent study by Lebow, Sim & Kransdorf (2015) revealed that adolescents who had been overweight or obese “represent a substantial portion of treatment-seeking adolescents with restrictive eating disorders,” and argue that extreme weight loss is problematic in the adolescent context in particular.
Which means that focusing on calories and weight loss without proper information, won’t result in healthier kids, just SICKER ones.

Basically, if you think there aren’t that many Canadians battling eating disorders…give it a year, that number will change if this law doesn’t.
Calories USED to be the enemy. But that’s old school thinking. What we know now, is that It has MUCH LESS To do with how many calories are in something, than what those calories are made of. Would 100 calories of candy be a healthier choice than 200 calories of avocado? Not in the least. Would it be healthier to choose the lower calorie french fries over the more caloric salad with quinoa and almonds? Not at all. We need to get away from counting calories and move toward education around ingredients.
Calories are energy.
We need to load our bodies up with the healthiest version of those suckers as possible. Of course, we don’t want to be taking in “too many”, but purely looking at number and deciding off of that, is not helpful or healthful.

Example:

If a person drinks 3 liters of pop a day and switches to lower calorie diet pop, will they lose weight? Could be. Will they gain Health? Not a chance.
Sugar isn’t great, but chemicals are not a better choice.
Counting calories is an old fashioned, useless way to go about getting healthier and that judging a food simply by it’s calories is similar to judging a person simply by their age. We can’t assume that every 40 year old woman will be healthier than every 35 year old woman, or that all 50 year old men are exactly the same. There is so much more that goes into health and fitness than numbers. The most experienced health and nutrition experts are steering their clients away from measuring food and leading them towards understanding it.
Bonnie Wisener, nutritionist at shift nutrition and wellness, agrees,
“Different foods have varying effects on our health that go way beyond weight. For example, trans fats can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance and
Cardiac disease, regardless of their calorie count. Paying attention to specific food selections can lead to the same, or even better results than simple calorie restrictions, and most importantly, to improved health.

To clarify: Eating foods with less calories because you think it’s the answer to losing weight, is not your best course of action. Eating healthier foods will improve your overall health.”

 

Restaurants hate it too!

I’ve spoken with several restaurant owners and servers who have their own issues with the menu changes.
Menu changes are expensive and some restaurants are seeing a drop in revenue.
Nobody wants to lose money, so some restaurants are finding ways around this. I spoke with a bartender at a popular family restaurant chain, who shared with me that since seasonal menus don’t require calories to be listed, their restaurant creates a different “seasonal” menu every month! By switching the foods around every few weeks, they can avoid negative reactions from customers and fines from the government.
Sneaky.
Another possibility is that in order to capitalize on the lower calorie menu obsession, they’ll start formulating their food to have less calories by cutting nutritional corners. Is that really what we want?

But Marci,” my critics argue, “ at least this is a first step!”
Yup, one step, in the WRONG direction! I’d rather they take ZERO steps than cause more damage. If in an effort to solve one problem, you create a different problem while not actually solving the first problem..What’s the point?!
If you need an appendectomy and the doctor says, “The first step is to cut you open, and then I’ll stop there for awhile,” would that be ok? No, it wouldn’t. If you’re not gonna finish the surgery, find another way to help the patient.

 

So what CAN we do?

First, stay OUT of restaurants. Kindly, keep your laws off my dinner table when I’m trying to enjoy a meal out. It’s a treat, I want to enjoy it.
BUT… There IS a better answer.
In 2006 The WHO (World Health Organization) ordered the food industry to take action in the fight against obesity. The Netherlands took the lead with The Choices programme. They were the first, but many other countries have followed. In a nutshell, an independent group of researchers, using a strict criteria, analyze all the products in the grocery store. Those that pass their tests based on things like calories, trans fats, saturated fats, dietary fibre and sodium, are given a label letting consumers know they are healthier choices. It comes down to CHOICE and information. The best part about this program, is that so many companies want to earn the healthy label so they are making their products more nutritious to do so! In 2016 alone, 180,000 products were reformulated by reducing sugar and sodium content and increasing dietary fiber.
THIS. MAKES. SENSE.

Healthier products, healthier consumers.

This highlights what’s GOOD about a product instead of just throwing ominous numbers at us.
Final word:
Who is at risk under the Healthy Menu Choices Act?
EVERYBODY
Who will be helped?
NOBODY

It’s time for the government to stop pretending to care about our health and actually DO something to improve it!fvfpo

 

Breaking Free from an Image Obsessed society

We live in an image obsessed, fat phobic, one size fits all kind of world where we spend our whole lives trying to live up to an unrealistic expectations of beauty that is impossible to attain and it’s killing us. Body image issues and eating disorders are destroying the lives of boys and girls, men and women and it’s time to take a stand!

I’m not buying it Coke; Your product OR your concern.

Grrrr!!!
I just watched a commercial for Coca-Cola that was all about how they’re helping fight obesity with their low or no calorie drinks. The line that really pissed me off was when they said, “All calories count.” meaning that it’s better to drink their diet crap than their regular crap. The PROBLEM with that message is this: Saying that all calories count is saying that the lower calorie option is always the better one and that is NOT always true! It’s not about how many calories are in what we’re eating but what those calories are made of that count! It’s actually better to eat/drink something that has more calories but is full of healthy ingredients than to opt for the diet, chemical filled version of it! Replacing Coke in high school vending machines with Diet Coke will NOT make our kids healthier!
Don’t pretend to care about our health, when it’s your wealth that’s your true motivation.
  Shame on Participaction for partnering up with them too.

We need to fight FOR our kids and not against eachother

I decided to send my Huffington Post article about Childhood obesity to a fairly well-known local fitness team and asked them for their thoughts. I did this, knowing that my article “Childhood obesity is not the problem” is a tad controversial. In my post, I discuss the dangers of anti-obesity campaigns and the fact that I believe we need to focus less on weight and more on health. I was genuinely interested in hearing their thoughts as people who have spent the last 25 years or so, offering health tips to families. They responded by saying, “The author is missing point. I think she is taking the topic and twisting it to write an article.” I wrote back explaining that I am, in fact, the author and that while I understand that there’s a health crisis in this country, focusing solely on weight is completely ignoring all of the other factors that play into our kids overall health and well being.

I was really looking forward to the discussion that I was hoping was going to follow. Afterall, we’re both trying to reach the same goal and I believed in the benefits that could come from extremely dedicated people approaching the same issue from different angles. Sadly, that’s not what happened. Not only did the conversation end, but my entire post had been deleted from their Facebook page.

REALLY?!

What this showed me was that some people are so stuck in their own opnions, that they aren’t even willing to consider that there may just be another way to look at things. I wasn’t looking to completely change their outlook, just expand it a little and I was just as open to the possibility of learning something new as well.

Here’s why I find this SO FRUSTRATING: There is hardly a lack of weightloss experts, programs and campaigns out there trying to make us lose weight and yet, obesity is still an issue. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to look at things in a different way. If we keep banging our heads against the same “Skinny means healthy” concrete wall, nothing will ever change.

Do I believe that I have a TON of knowledge to contribute? Yes, I do. But I am also not so arrogant as to believe that I have nothing left to learn.

We all know that childhood obesity is a problem, but here are a few things most people don’t know.

Fact: In Canada, for all the kids who are overweight, there are even more kids who are NOT but THINK that they are.

Fact: Eating disorders aren’t just a teen girl issue anymore. Girls AND boys as young as 5 years old are destroying their bodies in an effort to be skinny

Fact: It can be extremely difficult to find treatment for eating disorders due to lack of resources or finances.

Fact: Some people suffering from eating disorders find it nearly impossible to be taken seriously if they don’t “look the part”. It’s easy to look at someone who weighs as much as 380lbs or as little as 80lbs and recognize that they probably have a problem but someone battling a severe eating disorder can look healthy while slowly dying inside and can be overlooked even by medical professionals.

Fact: Anti-obesity campaigns tell kids they need to be skinny to be healthy by focusing on numbers, but we are more than just numbers and our self-worth should not be measured in pounds.

I understand that obesity is an issue, but I also understand that it is one of several issues that need to be tackled simultaneously if we have any chance of truly raising healthy children. While I understand this, there are way too many people who refuse to see the bigger picture and choose only to look at fat as the enemy. For there to be any chance of us finding solutions to the health crisis we’re facing, and for our kids to stand a chance at the long, quality filled lives they deserve, we need to fight the risks of unhealthy living instead of eachother.

If we let ego get in the way of progress, WE may feel better, but our kids won’t get any healthier.

The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents:Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive

Front20cover20no20spine   This is my book.
The book I wish my own mother had had when I was struggling and she felt so powerless. It states the problems but is full of solutions, games, projects, resources and cheat sheets for when your kids ask you sticky questions… and you need solid answers. The negative messages our kids will hear from the media and society will be loud. The positive messages we give them as their parents need to be even LOUDER!
As of today (Friday, March 15th) You can order your book from Amazon.com (or from my website www.fitvsfiction.com)
These are the tools you need to empower your kids to grow up with the self-confidence and self-esteem they deserve.
Self-worth shouldn’t be measured in pounds! xoxoSee More

Does the OMA want us to be HEALTHY or just skinny?

According to a recent article published in The Globe and Mail, the Ontario Medical Association says junk food should be treated the same way as tobacco, slapped with higher taxes and packaged with graphic warning labels.

Why is it that FEAR and SHAME have become the most popular ways of attacking the obesity crisis we’re facing? Pssst..here’s a secret: It doesn’t work.

The OMA wants to start putting graphic images of diseased body parts on “Junk Food”. I suppose their plan is that when people reach for a slice of pizza or can of Coke, they’ll see these nasty images, realize that these foods are unhealthy and grab a fresh salad and tall glass of water instead.

There are a lot of reasons why I think this idea is assinine.

As a body image advocate and author, I can tell you that the last thing we want to do is create fear and anxiety over food. Food isn’t something to be feared, but appreciated, respected and enjoyed. I  fully admit that we are a society that overindulges when it comes to what we put in our mouths, but negativity just breeds more negativity and is counterproductive in fighting the war against obesity. Have we completely given up on education? Instead of focusing on the evils of “Bad” food, why not teach people how to appreciate the healthier ones? Consulting Dietician and Author, Rosie Schwartz speaks more about this here:http://rosieschwartz.com/2012/10/24/childhood-obesity-solutions-has-the-ontario-medical-association-gone-a-little-too-far/

I’m going to talk about something the OMA seems to be completely forgetting about and what their primary focus should be: Our Health.

I would love to ask the doctors behind this plan if they are going to be issuing the same types of labels for all of the “Diet” products lining our shelves that are so loaded with artificial ingredients and chemicals, they’re better suited for a chemistry lab than grocery store. These days, almost every food you can think of comes in a “lite” or diet version with words like FAT-FREE and SUGAR-FREE plastered on their packaging, fooling consumers into thinking that purchasing them means making healthier choices. Are there going to be graphic labels for these products as well? I’m thinking there will not.

So what exactly is their message? It sounds like they’re telling us that high calorie,high fat “junk food” food will expand our waistlines and make us an economic drain on society, but the ones containing less fat and sugar are just fine; even though they are proving to be more and more dangerous to our overall health.

Obesity can lead to illnesses like Diabetes, but do they realize the same can be said for artificial sweeteners? We are so terrified of gaining weight that we are falling into the diet food trap and putting our health at risk everyday by making what seem like healthy substitutions, not realizing that the “lighter” foods can be equally detrimental to our quality of life: http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/artificial-sweeteners-and-other-food-substitutes-dangerous-your-health?page=2#copy

I find it INFURIATING when I vist a school with my Fit vs Fiction Body Image workshops and see that in an effort to improve the health of their students they’ve removed the pop from their vending machines. While that sounds like a great idea, that effort is lost when they choose to replace it with DIET pop!

HOW is the diet stuff any healthier than the full sugar ones??

I am a huge believer in balance and moderation when it comes to how we eat. Scaring people away from certain foods won’t teach them how to eat, it just teaches them how not to.  I think we’re going about this the wrong way.

I’ve had enough of the ad campaigns that focus on everything we’re doing wrong instead of encouraging us to do better.

Yes, obesity is a serious issue but using fear as a way of getting people to do change is pointless. Eating disorders are becoming more and more rampant among girls and boys as young as 5 years old and anyone who doesn’t think our society’s fat-phobia has a lot to do with that is deluding themselves.

If the OMA wants us to be healthier they need to remove their tunnel vision and start looking beyond the scale for what that really means.

Self-worth should not be measured in pounds.

Sugar-Free, Fat-Free, Chocolate flavored pudding..is NOT pudding!

 

 

And there is nothing cake-like about rice cakes. The diet companies might be able to  package their fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free “treats” to look good, but nothing can be done about the taste. The sad thing is that we accept it! We convince ourselves that they are just as good as the real thing and then wonder why we’re still hungry after eating them. “How can I still be craving chocolate?” you wonder, as you swallow the last piece of the “CHOCNOFAT BAR” you bought at the health food store. Our bodies are smarter than we think, when we crave certain things, we can’t simply trick our taste buds into thinking we’re satisfying those cravings by eating something that’s the same color, shape or texture. What usually ends up happening is we wind up eating “around” the foods we really want. For example, you might really want a few chocolate chip cookies, but to avoid the calories and inevitable guilt that will follow, you choose instead to have something else. Maybe you choose a couple of rice cakes, but when they don’t quite do the trick, you decide to have something sweet, so you grab an apple, but when that doesn’t work, you try something a bit more substantial and grab a few slices of bread with some low fat cheese. Still not satisfied, you end up giving in to your original craving and have a few of the cookies you wanted in the first place. Only now, you’ve had the cookies PLUS, rice cakes, an apple and bread with cheese. Had you just eaten what you wanted in the first place, you would have been satisfied and gotten on with your life! Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Now that you’ve eaten the forbidden fruit, or in this case, cookies, you are overwhelmed with guilt and feel like you’ve just blown your diet and will usually react in one of 2 ways. Either, you vow never to eat cookies again and start following an unrealistically strict diet to repent for your food sins, which, in time, you will find impossible to maintain. Or, you’ll skip the diet and, feeling completely discouraged over your own perceived lack of willpower, give up on healthy eating altogether, and punish yourself by gorging on anything and everything with complete abandon while your self-esteem sinks to a new low. All this can be avoided, however, if we learn how to be patient with ourselves and realize that food is not the enemy.

 

Our society has an intense fear of food. We live in fear of putting the wrong foods in our mouths and are constantly searching for the next miracle food to fulfill all of our nutritional needs. I do not believe that there is such a thing as GOOD food and BAD food. It’s all just FOOD. It’s not what we eat, but how we eat it that makes all the difference. Eating food doesn’t make us overweight; OVEReating food can. The simple fact, is that it takes more than a slice of cake, or a few cookies or a small serving of fries to lead us into a life of obesity. A lot more. I don’t believe that we need to or should ban these foods from our lives, in fact, we need to learn how to live with them if we want a chance at living a life free of the diet and body image angst that plagues so many of us. After years of being told that we don’t know how to eat, we’ve actually started to believe it. This makes us completely vulnerable and therefore prime targets for any and all new diet plans or products that come our way. When did we lose faith in ourselves and start putting all our trust in complete strangers, who care more about healthy bank accounts than healthy customers? I realize that there is a problem with obesity in our culture, but it’s certainly NOT from a lack of diet products available; quite the opposite actually. When we’re told to avoid fat and sugar, we immediately start stocking up on all the fat-free, sugar-free products we can get our hands on .There is a diet version of almost everything these days. Each of them promising to taste just as good as the original. What they don’t say, is that the fat free items are loaded with extra sugar and the sugar free ones are made with extra fat. It’s their way of replacing some of the lost flavor. I’m not suggesting that we should always choose the most decadent option available, but there is almost always a happy medium. Life is too short to live without flavor. Don’t settle for bland and dry over moist and delicious. While we shouldn’t make decadence the main component of our diets, we shouldn’t completely avoid it either. Along with a “Barrage” of diet products telling us what to eat, are countless weight loss companies telling us HOW to eat. We are so tired of feeling like we’re fighting an uphill battle with our bodies, with trying to figure out how and what to eat every single day, that we’re relieved when some diet company offers to do our thinking for us. Some of them will sell us books detailing what foods to eat, others will make their own, prepackaged foods available at most grocery stores, and some, will go as far as to offer home delivery so you never have to shop, cook or think for yourself ever again. But at what cost? Needless to say, these options are very expensive, but worse than that, they make us completely dependent on them. Suddenly, we can’t take a bite or a sip of anything that hasn’t been pre-approved by whichever diet company we’ve sold our souls to! That can’t possibly seem like a good idea long term. When does it end? I understand the desperation to lose weight, but most people want to lose weight because they feel that their extra weight is keeping them from enjoying life to the fullest, but how does being a slave to a diet plan improve their quality of life? Where’s the freedom in that? We NEED to learn how to live WITH food, not fear and avoid it. We are all so much more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. It’s time to reclaim that power. We have to stop paying other people to do what we should be doing for ourselves. The only things getting leaner are our wallets! Instead, we need to take the foods we enjoy off our “naughty lists” and learn how to incorporate them into our daily lives. Shocking as that may sound; you can be a healthy and fit individual while eating a variety of foods in a balanced way. Even foods whose sole redeeming quality might be that it tastes good! It’s time to go back to REAL food. Throw out all the fat free, sugar free, carbohydrate free, flavor free products that are filling your pantries and refrigerators and start enjoying your food again. Listen to your body, respect your body and most of all, start working WITH your body instead of fighting AGAINST it.

Who’s in charge of “Pretty?” Who makes the rules? Please STOP!

Frustrated and sad

That’s exactly how I’m feeling today; frustrated from how incredibly shallow and insecure our society has become and sad for the kids who are growing up loathing themselves because of it.

I was 17 years old when my body image and eating disorders took hold of me, which is OLD compared to how young the kids are who are being affected by these issues today and it would be difficult to properly express how much pain my disorder brought to my life and how much joy it stole away.

I could practically be the poster child for Eating Disorders, as I’ve done it all. For over 20 years I nearly starved, binged and exercised myself to death and the grief I caused myself and those around me is immeasurable. There were times when I didn’t think I’d survive it, there were also times when I didn’t want to. Life was just TOO HARD.

But I found the strength to find the recovery I so desperately needed and have since made it my mission to help others avoid the hell that I couldn’t. Luckily, I’m not alone in this. There are several fabulous groups out there who are trying change the warped way our world views beauty and together I think we are encouraging people to judge themselves a little less and appreciate themselves a little more.

HOWEVER, for all the steps forward we’re taking in the right direction, there are too many forces adamant about holding us back.

This week alone, I had the displeasure of reading about the socialite who put her obese daughter, (I write  the word “obese” while rolling my eyes and growling in disgust, since the girl was NOT obese) on a restrictive diet ( I continue to roll my eyes at the word “Diet” since the food plan she came up will not only help her lose weight , but also any chance at  growing up with a  healthy relationship with food and her body) guided by her own body image issues. Then I read about the mother who gave her child a gift certificate for breast implants for her 7th birthday! Don’t worry, she wasn’t expecting her to get the surgery done at 7 years old, that would be bad parenting, instead she expects her to wait until she’s 16. Of course.

What is WRONG with people?? WHEN did how we looked completely overtake everything else in our lives as the MOST IMPORTANT?!  WHO decides what is beautiful and what isn’t and WHY the Hell do we CARE?!

Whoever you are…

JUST STOP!

STOP telling us we’re TOO fat or TOO skinny, our Boobs are TOO small and our hips are TOO big, our wrinkles are TOO deep and our hair is too gray, our asses are too flat and our stomachs too round!

Is it too much to hope, that if we stop listening, maybe they’ll all just go away…..?

Liking WHO you are is different from liking WHERE you are

I talk a lot about the importance of liking yourself. In general, we tend to be kind and patient to the people we love around us, yet judge ourselves harshly for every perceived flaw we have or mistake we make. As someone who spent way too many years hating how I looked, how I felt and who I was, I can tell you that this type of self-judgement is pointless. It’s amazing how much more we can accomplish if we just give ourselves the chance to be a little human.

This whole, “Love yourself, no matter what” concept has some people confused. I have had a lot of people challenge me, by asking,” So, you think people should like themselves no matter how much they weigh?”

I answer, “YES.”

They continue, “Even if they are overweight?!”

I answer, “YES.”

They continue disapprovingly, “It’s OKAY to like yourself if you’re OVERWEIGHT?? But that’s not healthy!”

At last, my chance to explain:

Liking YOURSELF is not the same as liking or accepting WHERE YOU ARE.

I truly believe that a person’s value as a human being does not change regardless of what the scale says. A person is no less deserving of love and respect from themselves or others if they are underweight, overweight or at their goal weight. But that doesn’t mean that they need to stay at that weight.

The truth is, we tend to be kinder and more patient to those we love, so if we love ourselves we will WANT to be as healthy and happy as possible and will then make better lifestyle choices.

Hating ourselves for who we aren’t will get us nowhere, but respecting ourselves for we ARE will remove any self-imposed boundaries on who we may become.

You cannot lose weight in order to like yourself..you need to like yourself in order to lose weight.

Self-worth should not be measured in pounds!

Open letter to Fitness Trainers r.e. Holiday weightloss pressure:

Dear Fitness trainers,

Let me start by saying that I have tremendous respect for your dedication to helping people get and stay fit; having worked in the fitness industry for over 20 years myself, I know the hard work and discipline that goes into helping others achieve the results they seek.

That said, I find myself becoming more and more disillusioned by how our society tends to confuse LOOKING fit with actually BEING fit. More and more people are focusing on the esthetics of their bodies instead of the mechanics of it and are forgetting how important it is to be healthy from the inside out.

I’m writing this letter because of how FRUSTRATED I have found it to go to my gym during this holiday season. It feels as if every workout comes with a free serving of guilt and fear. While it’s true that people tend to overindulge during the festivities, and there are many people who will feel the need to eat less and workout more as of January 1st, I think it’s REALLY important that you understand that there are also a lot of people who don’t want to be reminded of every extra cookie they ate or glass of wine they drank.

I suppose I’m a little sensitive about this issue because of my history with food and eating disorders, but it’s taken me years to get to a place where I workout out because it FEELS good and because I like knowing that I’m doing something GOOD for my body and not because I want to fit into a bikini by Spring break. I know I am not alone in this. During a spinning class last week, I was given no choice but to hear about how many cookies I was burning off per song and how many glasses of wine I was “earning” per workout. The woman on the bike next to me said, “Great, I WAS feeling good..now I just feel guilty.” I also don’t want to be told that if I work hard, I’ll get the 6 pack abs I want. Truth be told, I’ve had the perfectly sculpted physique and watched my body fat whittle away to almost nothing and I felt like crap. My goal these days to be HEALTHY and STRONG and I truly believe that THAT should be what we’re taught at the gym.

So please Mr/Ms Trainer, don’t tell me that we’re going to work extra hard to repent for enjoying the holidays or assume that I want to lose weight even if I’m a little softer and rounder than I could be and PLEASE don’t be offended at what I’ve written. We’ve become so caught up in the fit vs fat battle, that it’s become difficult to mention a fabulous meal we’ve eaten, without feeling the need to apologize for its calories and that’s a shame.

Different people of different ages, sizes and fitness levels join gyms everyday and we need to make sure that they are getting the healthiest messages possible. It’s all about progress and not perfection. While some people find diet talk motivating, I bet there are many more who wish it would just go away.

Let’s put the HEALTH back into “Health Clubs”!

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