5 common health and fitness sayings we should all hear less of
Roll your eyes at some of the sentences coming out of your fave influencer’s mouth? Here are the phrases that need to go in the bin.
There are many narratives around health and fitness that are not only untrue, but also dangerous.
Sometimes ideas that may have originally come from a scientific rationale, are twisted to get more clicks or dollars. The result is that a lot of us – especially women – are left plain confused when it comes to many areas of our health and fitness, body image and self-worth.
So, let’s take a look at 5 common health and fitness sayings we should all hear less of!
“Abs are made in the kitchen!”
While what we eat certainly plays a huge part in how our bodies look, the reality is that everyone has a unique constitution that predisposes them to storing fat more or less in particular parts of their body.
Someone may have the most perfect diet and exercise regime, but still carry fat around the midsection. Other people may be naturally lean but have terrible habits and poor health overall.
The idea that manipulating food to get more “ripped abs” is not healthy to perpetuate and can lead people to work towards unrealistic ideals, which – if they aren’t met – can make people feel less of themselves. In addition, washboard abs are quite rare to attain for all body types, so to suggest that food choices alone will get you there is just plain wrong!
A better alternative: “A healthy foundation for life is built in the kitchen!”
Anything to do with “getting a bikini body”
Diet culture has a lot to answer for and it remains one of the most profitable industries around the globe. Part of its enduring success lies in it setting unrealistic goal posts.
When we see anything to do with getting a “bikini body”, it is generally supported by images of a typically lean person, which is unattainable for a significant proportion of the population.
While the lean person in the images is invariably of great value and beauty, to think that all people need to aspire for the one shape is dangerously reductive.
Everyone deserves to feel confident, comfortable and of value in a bikini, or any outfit they feel empowered in! So put it on and rock it!
A better alternative: “Love your body now!”
“Cut out X/Y/Z to lose weight fast!”
How long have we demonised carbs for? Before carbs it was fat, and don’t get me started on ‘evil sugar’! At the end of the day, eliminating one type of food will not guarantee weight loss, and can even detrimentally impact your health.
To lose weight, we need to be in a calorie deficit for most days of the week. And that deficit should never be to the point where our basic bodily functions are compromised. We all need to appreciate that to survive and thrive, our bodies need a decent fuel source and a wide-ranging diet.
There are a range of calculators available online that can help you work out how many calories you need in a day based on your size, age and activity levels, as well as what you want to achieve. If in doubt, talk to a health professional!
A better alternative: “The only way to reduce fat is via a calorie deficit!”
“Real women have curves!”
Society’s ideal female body shape has changed so significantly over time – usually in line with fashion trends and/or social status – so this is another narrow-minded statement.
In reality, we all come in an infinite variety of sizes, shapes and colours, and all beautiful and worthy. Anything that oversimplifies how women look and doesn’t recognise our diversity should simply be ignored.
A better alternative: “Everybody is beautiful.”
“X% body fat is ideal for health!”
As mentioned earlier, we all have unique constitutions that mean we have different propensities to store fat. In addition, this can change depending on our age and stage of life, not to mention other factors such as stress and/or illness.
The idea that health is linked to a certain body shape is restricting and dangerous. Your body fat percentage can never represent your mental health, and mental health challenges can significantly influence our lifespan. Perpetuating the idea that people who don’t have the widely represented – but largely unattainable body types – is unhealthy and can have hugely detrimental impacts on our self-worth.
It is time to change the tune and help people develop a healthy sense of self-love, as this is often the foundation for making an empowering connection to our bodies.
When we love, respect and truly listen to our bodies, it influences how we care for ourselves and the choices we make every day,
A better alternative: “Loving and respecting your body, whatever its size, is ideal for health.”
Kate Kraschnefski is Head of Training at the Australian Institute of Fitness. Kate’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Applied Science, Diploma of Training Design and Development and Certificate III & IV in Fitness. She has over 15 years’ experience in the fitness industry and is passionate about personal training and group exercise!