The ‘Anti-fitness’ industry
With the absolute explosion of social media over the past few years, the ‘fitness’ industry is no longer what it once was. Instagram in particular (as we all know) is probably one of, if not the, biggest culprit for this which is such a shame for those of us who have been active on the App for 7/8 years or so.
I’ve been meaning to express my thoughts about this topic for while however, do not want to come across hypocritical myself (you’ll understand what I mean as you read this post).
When ‘fitness’ first took off on social media and became a ‘trend’ the market wasn’t very saturated. A lot of what was online was simply around moving more and eating simply ‘better’ not ‘clean’ or ‘vegan’ or ‘iifym’. Don’t get me wrong, the old school bodybuilder diet of rice, chicken broccoli was still around but it had been for years anyway.
So what went wrong?
To be honest, I think it was a mix of people wanting fame, a lack of education and a false/ skewed perception of what ‘health and fitness’ should look like.
And that’s the problem, it’s a visual app, its 2D images, images we look at, register and then associate with whatever that person is portraying to be ‘health’. The entire industry is based on ‘what we look like’ and ‘what we see’ and through these photos, mixed messages are spread through how you should eat, train, live your life.
I feel as though you need to fit into a certain instagram stereotype to be ‘accepted’ or grow your page. It’s almost unheard of to be living a lifestyle which is YOUR version of healthy (because healthy looks different on everybody!) that doesn’t quite fit into a typical stereotype. So what sort of categories do I mean?
The ‘clean eaters’
These are your niches who are still obsessed with the notion of ‘clean food’, food which isn’t processed, doesn’t contain gluten etc and god forbid it contains ‘refined sugar’. You’ll notice pages like this base most recipes on dates and nuts, won’t post a photo of anything that’s come from a packet and probably have orthorexic tendencies to some degree. I often get messages from pages like this which tell me that I shouldn’t post photos of ‘bad’ food and that sugar/fat/processed foods will harm me, when in fact, absolutely nothing will harm you in moderation.
These are the people at the complete opposite ends of the spectrum, you’ll notice they post foods which are entirely ‘fun’ such as cakes, donuts, chocolate etc and preach about ‘tracking these foods into diet’. They count ‘protein’ ‘carbs’ and ‘fat’ and essentially group foods into numbers. Again, whether or not this entire movement is ‘healthier’ for you is a different topic for another day but one can argue it reduces ‘fear’ around foods. You have to take everything you see with a pinch of salt because although these people may be posting photos of said ‘fun’ foods followed by a photo of their shredded 6 pack abs, you have no idea what foods they consume the rest of the day nor what their activity level is like.
The ‘anti-fitness’ movement
Those are just an example of 2 ends of the spectrum you see across social media and recently I can’t help but notice the rise of the ‘anti-fitness’ movement, more and more people have turned away from this ‘fitness/food’ life is everything and are trying to find that grey spot in the middle which is just life. It’s very cliche but aren’t we all just looking for that sweet spot? The spot we can define as ‘balance’ for ourselves? I think that’s the problem, it’s easy to categorise and fit into a certain stereotype because you can just follow those doing the same but ‘balance’ and ‘life’ doesn’t have a ‘stereotype’, balance for one person is different to balance for another. It doesn’t LOOK a certain way, it can’t be portrayed via 2D images. And I suppose that leaves a lot of people a little lost, you can’t try to follow or life your life under what appears to be a balanced lifestyle for someone else.
I also feel that at times, instagram has become a sour place with mixed messages;
We see people preaching about certain things yet contradicting themselves about others..
‘Love yourself’ ‘but don’t love yourself too much and be arrogant’
‘Share your struggles and relate to people’ ‘stop patronising people with your problems when others are going through much worse’
‘Exercise, move more, be active’ ‘but don’t make people feel guilty for not being able to exercise as much as you’
You get the idea…
So where does that leave us?
Where does that leave people like me? Maybe like you? People who are just living life, living their version a balanced lifestyle. Maybe eating ‘clean’ one day but also ‘fun’ foods the next, exercising because they want to, not because they have to.
A little lost if i’m honest, a little anxious about being totally me, totally transparent and just doing what I love doing. I don’t fit into a ‘stereotype’ nor do I aspire to. Maybe I am a combination of stereotypes who will never really fit into a specific niche but i’m learning to be okay with that. At times it makes me uneasy posting things through fear of judgment because it seems you will upset or offend someone out there.
But what I have done about it is completely pull away from the industry, instead i’ve found myself drawn to beautiful food accounts and self-love accounts, a lot of ‘anti-diet culture’ females and those who normalise what should be normal anyway. I try to follow the journeys of those similar to myself and unfollow accounts which I feel affect me negatively in any way. I urge you to do the same, it really does wonders for your self esteem and self worth. Not only that, you don’t leave the App in a worse mood than before you went on it.
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts on everything i’ve shared. I wonder if anyone feels the same, a little lost and like they don’t quite fit in.
Please leave me a comment or come over to any of my social media pages to drop me a message.
Thanks for reading and lots of love,