Disclaimer: This post is about eating disorders and may contain material that could be triggers for those currently or have been affected in the past. I have had dear friends and clients who suffered from the issue that is the topic at hand, and to be frank, I am enraged. There will be no jokes, references, or silliness that typically characterize my blog. My hope is that this post knocks some sense into the fitness industry.
Note: I do not claim to be an expert on any aspect of eating disorders. The views expressed here in regards to the general causes of eating disorders are based on my current understanding of the issue. If at any point I am flat out wrong or insensitive, please let me know and I will do my best to educate myself and remedy the problem.
Welp, here goes nothin’.
Into the Flames
“I struggled with anorexia years ago and still have issues with the way I perceive my body. I went to rehab for years and eventually recovered, but I gained a lot of weight back in the healing process. I would like to lose weight and be happy with my body. I have come to you because I want to lose the weight in a healthy way, but am afraid of spiraling back into anorexia.”
“Well, for weight loss we will need a combination of strength training and dieting. There’s this great new diet called intermittent fasting where you starve yourself all day and then eat one meal in the evening. It’s great because it means you don’t eat as much so you lose weight. If you ever want to look like those skinny models on tv that give young women unrealistic standards to which they hold themselves to, we have to get you on intermittent fasting. To get a caloric deficit you just have to eat less. Simple.”
Are you fucking kidding me?!
Can you imagine how terrible it would be if this scenario were to actually happen?
Playing With Fire
Well, it is.
It’s happening all the time because intermittent fasting is getting popular. IF (intermittent fasting) is getting praise from a lot of people. The worst part is that I’ve heard TRAINERS promote intermittent fasting, respectable trainers who have substantial influence and should know better. Even if it is not during a consultation, this message is most likely getting seen on social media by many who have struggled with eating disorders at some point in their life.
I find this reinforcement of the idea that you need to starve yourself completely disgusting and unacceptable.
Are we ACTUALLY trying to help people live healthy, happy lives? Or are trainers the stupid, insensitive, muscle bound jock assholes we are stereotyped as? How fucking inconsiderate, oblivious, and superficial is this behavior?
As if these people don’t have enough people telling them they need to stop eating. Then they go to a “fitness professional” who is supposed to be the authority on weight loss and healthy eating habits, and this trainer tells them the same fucking thing the media tells them!
This notion is much worse when it comes out of a trainer’s mouth.
Why? Because trainers are the “experts” of health and fitness, so what they say about weight loss holds more clout. As far as I’m concerned, trainers should be AT WAR with the mainstream media and everything it has done to make it so hard for people to be healthy–mentally and physically. The media’s message about body image is the opposite of what a trainer’s message should be.
Stomping the Embers
We should be cultivating healthy relationships with food, emphasizing healthy habits and not restrictions. We need to incorporate the idea that indulging every so often won’t ruin progress. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we indulge, but enjoy it and go back to eating healthy right after. We need to show that healthy foods can taste just as good as unhealthy foods. We need to emphasize balance. We need to condemn extremes that breed instability and are not mentally or physically sustainable.
Most of all, we need to recognize that people who are unhappy with their bodies have a whole load of shit on their plate and don’t need anyone else adding on to it.
We must build strength, not frailty.