If you’ve ever spent time on Pinterest, women’s fitness websites, or even a grocery store check-out line, you’ve likely seen these ‘inspirational fitness’(or ‘fitspo’) quotes or memes. They bombard you with images of flat stomachs while telling you how you can have that same flat stomach in six short weeks—right next to a recipe for chocolate cake. Mixed messages abound: you’re beautiful just the way you are, but here’s a 12-week workout plan to get a better butt. There is a constant barrage in media about how you should be working harder and doing more, that who you are right now isn’t good enough so you should buy these products to finally be perfect. Honestly, the fitness industry is bullshit, wanting to sell people on whatever new fad is coming out, churning people through the giant cogs of the machine.
You’ve probably seen or heard a couple of these:
Three months from now, you’ll be thanking yourself
Three months is definitely enough time to see changes, but everything won’t magically be better. This also implies that you only need to change for short periods of time to see long-term results. Long-term, consistent efforts and changes will lead to long-term results.
Because I can only make changes in my life when there is a relevant hashtag to go with it. There’s no reason to have to wait for the first day of a new year, a new month, or a new week to make a change in your life. Don’t dread the Monday of a new week when you told yourself you would finally start eating better. Why wait for a new year to get that gym membership? Say, for example, you want to start tracking food. Instead of saying “Starting next week, I will track all the food I eat using (insert food tracking app here)”, start sooner by tracking one or two meals a day, increasing the amount you’re tracking. By the time Monday comes around, you’ve already started the habit of tracking food.
Sweating for the wedding!
When I first got engaged, I was concerned about this. Knowing me, my body, and my strength training goals at the time, I knew I wouldn’t be able to both lose a bunch of weight (and maintain it off), and still be in line for the strength training goals I had at the time. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up having a 300-pound deadlift just to look slimmer in a dress for one day. So I disregarded sweating for the wedding, and sweat for my goals instead. I found a dress that I loved (and was flattering to my shape), and actually did end up having to get it taken in multiple times, which is both an ego boosting and costly process. There’s so much else to worry about while planning a wedding, and the wedding day itself will just fly by. After everything is gone, the afterglow of love and appreciation will overshadow the fact that maybe you didn’t lose the 10 pounds you wanted to. But you gained a life partner who is worth so much more than those 10 pounds.
Losing weight is all about willpower!
Uh huh, let me just will-power this weight away. The reason this is bullshit is because of all the factors that go into weight loss, the most central of those being that your calories in should be lower than your calories going out (through exercise or daily life). Most diets work through this rule, despite whatever name they go by. This cliche is basically a blanket statement that negates anything else you have going on – birth control can cause weight retention, for instance – that may prevent you from losing weight. Willpower isn’t a currency; you can’t just go to the willpower store and pick some up along with your weekly groceries.
Fuck you Ryan Gosling, I’ll eat that cupcake just to spite you.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve fallen in with these traps. Hell, I have a sticker book with a bunch of these shitty quotes on them. When I was first looking at myself, my weight, and where I was going, I thought those quotes were going to dig me out of the proverbial hole I dug for myself. But it was just a hamster wheel of chasing one quote to the next to keep myself going, and I wasn’t enjoying where I was headed. I ended up right in the same place I started, with the additional shame of spending so much time on something only to fail. Once I realized that I was torturing myself by holding onto those fitspo quotes and cliches that line the walls of the fitness industry, I ditched them cold turkey and focused solely on myself and my own development.
There are two main keys to consistency when it comes to fitness (and honestly, life in general): figure out why you want to make whatever change you’re making, and find something that you enjoy that supports that change. Do you want to get fitter so you can be stronger or fit into smaller clothes? Try different exercise classes or workout styles to find one that you enjoy – and achieves your goal – and will do so long-term.
Do you sense a theme here? Find something that positively affects your life, and run with it. When I first started working out, just about everything I knew about fitness, motivation, and progress came from Pinterest and websites trying to sell me their fitness programs. I stayed in that cycle for about 2 years, with not a whole lot to show for it, until I found a Crossfit/Powerlifting gym and coaches who actually cared about my well-being. I started doing classes with groups of people from a variety of backgrounds and skill levels. They became my support network—and that’s when working out stopped being work and started being something that was actually a positive influence in my life. No longer would I have to fight frat boys at LA Fitness at 6 AM four days a week, in an environment that was not conducive to my goals. I found a place that is special to me, that is my second home, with a coach who pushes me because he knows I can take it and wants me to succeed. In an environment where old classmates ask how my training is going and want to catch up on life. Finding that positive environment and activity changed everything for me.
So I encourage you to find something that positively affects your life and moves you towards your goals. There is something really special about finding a place that speaks to you, whether it is under a squat bar or out in nature on your favorite trail. Find a place or activity that makes you feel at home and leave behind the cliches that tell you otherwise.