Have you seen them yet?
The January challenge?
The New YOU?
The cheap gym memberships?
The online weight loss programs that are sure to shed those extra kilo’s!
Culture is like wearing sunglasses that adjust to the light. We view everything through them and we often forget that we are wearing them. And when everyone is wearing the same kind of glasses, we don’t notice them either.
I believe the fitness industry wears such glasses when it promotes a single body type (young, thin and athletic) as the paradigm of health and well-being. It is evident in every before and after shot, in every call to action to Kick-Start a New You! Slash Detox slash 30 day Challenge fitspiration.
This method of shaming people into exercise and to support a zillion dollar diet and supplement industry hasn’t worked in the past, as our obesity and inactivity rates continue to grow. But what it does achieve is continue to support a culture that puts the emphasis on what we look like, rather than acknowledging the diversity that is health and well being on an individual level.
Are you strong enough to ignore all the fitspiration meme’s and the viral tags on facebook that are going to inundate your newsfeed this New Years?
An eating disorder or over exercising can creep quietly and subtly into a woman’s life, as she faces the challenge of living up to the perceived image of what health and wellbeing looks like (young, thin and athletic) and failing.
It can be extremely difficult to be 100% sure if someone’s behaviour around food and exercise is extreme, because we are all wearing the cultural glasses that equates thinness with fitness and food restrictions with health. Even our medical professionals assess our health with the BMI scale, which is not even relevant for most people!
However, what we do know is that disordered eating is much easier to deal with, than an eating disorder. Early awareness and intervention is key.
Here are my top 10 tips for creating a body positive culture for both you and your children:
- Unfollow the pages, feeds, Instagram accounts, the snap-chatters who have focus completely on the images of bodies that can never be you (thanks age, pre-pubescent girls and photo-shop!)
- Monitor your self talk – how often do you say aloud or in your head negative things about your body and / or how you look?
- Have a list of body positive things to say to combat #2 e.g.: My body is injury free. My body has birthed my beautiful children. My body is strong. These messages have to be your own and you need to own them
- Resist the urge to judge other women based on their looks
- Acknowledge when you are comparing your body to another… just like finger prints… no 2 are the same
- Practice changing the subject when a conversation begins about perceived faults about our own or other people’s bodies
- Enjoy your food and exercise, neither are a reward or punishment
- Follow great Facebook pages like Body Positive Australia
- Read the book Neuro-slimming by Dr. Helena Popovic
- How Far is Too Far? is a website that you should absolutely know about. This website has been created for Fitness Professionals, Health Professionals, teachers and parents. It gives you the tools to help you know when you (or someone you know) has rituals around food, exercise and body image that moved into the grey area… into the how far is too far? zone.
Silence keeps things as they are. It is only by speaking out that things change.
Our society is not stagnant. It is forever re-inventing itself and now more than ever, thanks to social media. We have the ability to influence change and call out the rubbish. And there is no better time than right now!
Make that your NEW New Year’s Resolution!
Michelle Wright (Mish)(B.Ed and Dip. Teach) is the founder of the multi-award winning fitness business mishfit. With over a decade in the fitness industry, mishfit proudly boasts a programme called EVEolution and is passionate about providing safe exercise and education to pregnant and postnatal women.
Mish regularly contributes to magazines, online sites and presents internationally on women’s health and specifically about pelvic floor. She is also the creator of the Women’s Health and Fitness Summit held in Melbourne each September – an event dedicated to bringing together Fitness professionals and Allied Health Professionals to build relationships that will improve client outcomes, as well as providing a progressive education hub for health and fitness needs of women.