What a Shame!

I see the internet is abuzz once again with the latest “No Excuses” photo making the rounds on Instagram.

Rewind: Fitness enthusiast Maria Kang posted this picture of herself on Facebook way back in the fall of 2013.

Maria Kang was accused of “Fit-Shaming” for posting this photo

The internet exploded with half praise for Kang for being “fitsporational” but many others accused her of bullying and “fit-shaming,” making people (specifically women) who have had kids thinking they are just sitting at home on the couch eating chips and bon bons when they have plenty of time to exercise and eat healthy.

So was she bragging or motivating? Kang said on her own website “I felt that if others can overcome incredible challenges to be in shape, why would my story be any different?”

So we’ve had a break with the fit-shaming since then…right? I guess the internet was overdue for another one.

Enter Abby Pell. Pell frequently posts pictures of herself on her Instagram page with motivational sayings, apparently. She posted this picture almost a year ago but it’s making headlines now because she recently won a fitness/bodybuilding competition.

Look familiar?

Her intent seems to be the same as Kang.

 “The message I want to portray is for all the women/mums/girl who aren’t happy or confident with themselves and the reason they don’t try to do anything about it is because they think it’ll be too hard or even impossible to get results.

Everyone could make excuses, too many people think it’s easier not to try than to risk failure. It’s not the case. I don’t want to make other women feel bad about themselves, I want them to look at me and think, if she can do it so can I. Because you can!”

Is this message being portrayed in the best way?

If we are trying to tell Mommies everywhere that having kids is no excuse for getting in shape, does baring your six pack stomach really inspire anyone? Or is it just making people angry enough to comment and post about how much they hate these women?

I definitely don’t have an answer. But I think the REACTION is interesting. Perhaps the picture brought out some…Jealousy? Envy? Sensitivity?

I honestly felt none of these. I immediately thought, “Good for them! Okay…so what else is going on in the news?” I didn’t give it more than a second or two of attention. It wasn’t until almost every fitness person I follow started Retweeting and sharing it that I noticed the “outrage.”

What’s Your Excuse Reason for Getting in Shape?

As for me, several things inspired me to get in shape for the competition.

I don’t have kids and I’ve mentioned on here in the past, I had been a personal trainer but just hadn’t pushed myself as much at the time. I had felt soft and lazy. I didn’t like the way I felt but had become so complacent that I kinda didn’t care all that much. I could have stayed soft, lazy, and kinda average looking but I KNEW I had it in me to look and feel better.

Taking a look around me, I was surrounded by fit people at the gym I worked at.  I saw how hard they worked and wondered, “Why don’t my workouts look like that? How come my muscles don’t look like hers?” Well, the answer was easy: I wasn’t pushing myself. At all. I was just coasting.

I had looked at pictures of some of my former co-workers from back in Chicago, one in particular was incredibly inspirational for me. She pushed and trained and dieted for a competition as well and I thought, WOW. I want to look like that! I want my workouts to kick ass and I want to look like these people when I’m done!

I don’t have kids so maybe training and dieting for the competition would have been challenging for me if I did. But there are plenty of mommies who compete. Maybe they aren’t all pros but they are out there.

So it wasn’t one picture or one person in particular who lit the fire in me to get off my butt and start taking fitness more seriously. It was several people and my current lazy flat butt* that got me going.

*It’s not flat anymore. Thank you deadlifts and split squats and lunges and more squats!

15 Minutes of Fame

Did these women just want to be in the spotlight for a period of time? Maybe. Attention seeking? Perhaps.

But I think what is interesting is these women are real people (i.e. not celebrities). Can you imagine the audacity if Madonna or Britney or Heidi Klum posted a photo with the same caption??? Can you imagine the outrage and the comments???

“Easy for you to say, you’re a millionaire!!!”

“You have 3 nannies and probably a personal chef and a personal trainer!!”

“You get paid $ to look that way!!!”

“You’ve probably had liposuction!!! All your photos are photoshopped anyways!”

But the minute a real woman posts it, all of a sudden the reaction is “Fit shaming! Shame on you!!  Who are you to tell me what I should be doing?!”

Newsflash: These women never ordered or commanded any of us to listen to them. They are merely trying to help. And quite frankly, you don’t need to listen or click or comment if you don’t like the message.

Think of social media as a hobby, not your job.

Some of us respond well to yelling and barking in your face type of personal trainers, some respond well to calm and collected and others listen to no-nonsense types (I put myself in this category). I think the same is said for the type of people you follow on social media, real or…ummm not real (famous people).

Maybe you like the hardcore, in-your-face types who might curse once in awhile and post videos of themselves kicking their own butts in the gym. Maybe you like the fitness geeks who show you how to move better or always have a post about how to keep good form while working out. Or maybe you like just regular good old fashioned easy-to-follow instructions and black and white “I tell it like it is” types. As long as they get you off the couch and ignite a little fire in you, keep following them. But be careful, because sometimes the best sources of inspiration, are right under your nose.

I for one, like to follow and look up to REAL people. As I mentioned earlier, my friends, my co-workers who train hard, my clients who follow their plans. Those people are my “fit-sporation.” Sure I follow plenty of fitness people on social media, but I like following my actual friends who I see everyday even more.

Turn Around

So take a look around you.  Try actually looking up from the phone and the computer. Who around you has the best healthy habits that you would love to adapt? Who has a workout regiment that you think you’d like to try? Who seems to have their act together?

Talk to them. Ask them how did they get to the point where they are now with their physique and fitness level.

Guaranteed the conversation might go something like this:

“I make it a priority. But I wasn’t always like this! It took me a long time to prepare all my meals and get my workouts in.”

or

“My gym is right around the corner from my job so I go right after work. Otherwise I don’t think I would ever go.”

or

“I have the energy to deal with my job and the kids because I don’t eat crap like I used to. I don’t always work out. Sometimes I just can’t get it in, but at least my meals are pretty good 80% of the time. It also helps that I learned how to cook after I got married.”

or

“Oh it’s takes a lot of work to stay in shape but I’m addicted to it! I signed up for some endurance races to hold me accountable. At first it was hard, but I just made it a point to put it in my schedule. Like an appointment that I can’t miss.”

Do you see what the consistent message is here? “It’s not easy but I made it work for me.” “I’m not always 100% consistent but I try.”  “It took me a long time to get this way.”

I promise, this is the only secret that there is.

Some day, everyone will stop with the quick fixes and diet pills and crash diets. People will see the celebrities on magazine covers and condemn the latest Hollywood cleanse. Women won’t tear each other down. We’ll stop trying to one-up our transformation story as being better or “because I’m a Mom I had to work harder than you!”

Some day this will happen. They’ll understand there are no excuses. There’s just hard work and desire to succeed.

It’s a shame we still don’t get it.

 

 

One thought on “What a Shame!

  1. This is a tough one for me. What gets left out of this discussion are the most important aspects of humanity; what kind of neighbor, mother father, employee are any of us — despite what we look like…?

    How internally fit is a person, despite what he or she looks like. As competitive bodybuilder for almost 40 years I no longer feel the need to stay in shape, or even stay lean all the time.

    A few years back I let my weight drift to what I felt was too high, and my BF was probably 23%. Despite that, I was crushing my road bike, crushing the weight room surfing better than ever — despite my belly. Oh, combined cholesterol was 180, resting heart-rate 52, BP was 120/60, and liver enzymes were perfect. But I had a gut.

    None of this mattered a bit though, because at the end of the day I was good father a fantastic trainer, a good neighbor, and solid person in my community. Why is that these things matter so little on social media — or even in life anymore…? That is the bigger question.

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