I know that “hate” is a very strong word. When I was a kid, I may have gotten soap in my mouth for using such a word, but I feel very strongly about this title. Let me explain…
Yesterday, I was perusing through Instagram in the “suggested content” section. Since my life is nutrition and fitness, all of these pictures are usually about food or fitness. Because it was Tuesday, the Instagram world was posting their #TransformationTuesday pictures…the ones where people post a shirtless selfie from before their weight loss or fitness journey and then one now. As I looked through these photos, I found myself getting really mad.
I know what you are thinking… As a person dedicated to health and fitness, shouldn’t I be happy to see people lose weight and get in shape? And the answer to that question is DEFINITELY! However, these pictures are not about that. These pictures are about showing off your abs. While I like having nice abs as much as the next guy, I think it’s an unhealthy trend to measure health with pictures of abs. Here’s why.
- Health has nothing to do with what you look like without a shirt. Many of these crazy diet and fitness routines promote unhealthy habits, like completely cutting out food groups, drinking crazy shakes (those things are not food), taking tons of supplements or working out 2+ hours per day. The problem with these habits is that they are not sustainable. While you may really like those Shakelogoy shakes right now, do you want to continue drinking them for the next 20 yeas? Probably not. Instead, take time to learn how to eat a well-balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and protein (from food).
- We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. I know that anyone posting a shirtless selfie will say, “It’s just about me and my transformation.” That’s true, but inevitably, we always compare ourselves to other people. And we shouldn’t because…
- Nutrition and fitness are different for everyone. I weigh 118 pounds and my main source of exercising is running. Should I be following the same diet and exercise routine as the girl on Instagram who weighs 150 pounds and strength trains 5x/week? Probably not. Should I compare my stomach to hers? Definitely not. Nutrition and fitness are different for everyone, and everyone has different needs based on their lifestyle, foods that they like, exercise routine, genetics, family history of disease and many other factors.
- Everyone has different body types. I have really long and skinny legs and arms. Whenever I do gain weight, it goes straight to my stomach. I work with many clients who gain weight in their legs. We are all born with different body types, so it’s detrimental to compare your progress to someone else who may have flatter abs.
- These pictures promote disordered eating. I’m not an eating disorder specialist, but I can tell you that cutting out entire food groups, thinking of certain foods as “bad”, or not eating enough is definitely a form of disordered eating.
Instead of posting a selfie showing off your abs, how about showing something healthy you did today?
Show me the extra veggies that you added to your plate or the bike that you rode to work.
Show me the water you drank instead of a sweetened soda or coffee drink or the flowers you saw on your walk through the park.
I went into this profession to help people turn healthy choices into a healthy lifestyle, not to help the world have flawless abs.