Why the Fitness Industry is Tainted.
Alright guys, no time for jokes on this post, just straight up REAL FREAKIN' TALK. Before I start my rant, let me give you all a little background of my experience in the fitness & health industry. I've been active since as long as I can remember. I started dance when I was as little as 3 years old (thanks mom), and continued onto playing soccer from age 7-12 and eventually just sticking to dance until high school. I should also add that I've been known as a health freak my entire life. I guess I should thank my mom for that too, and my older sister for always being the tall, skinny one. After high school I joined the gym because I wanted to stay active. I got myself an awesome trainer (Cat, if you're reading this ... thank you and I love you) who I learned a ton from, joined crossfit for a few years and really fell in love with seeing results, injured myself for being ignorant and went back to gym.
Fast forward through 4 years of college when I entered the entertainment industry as a performing go-go dancer, and shortly after, the fitness industry as a fitness model for a well known supplement company. This is when I really started experimenting with training methods, eating methods and supplements. Not going to lie, the pressure of looking a certain way for photoshoots and tiny costumes for my dancing job really, really got to me. The reason I'm telling you all of this is because for almost 4 years of my life, I went through hell and back without even knowing it. I tried literally EVERYTHING. Cardio bunny, gym trainer, crossfit, light weights to avoid "bulking", fasted cardio in the mornings for months, HIIT training, got a taste of competition training and pretty much said F THIS real quick (lol) ... you get the point. As far as health and eating, I've tried it all as well. Crash diets, low carb, vegetarian, carb cycling on my fitness pal for 2 years religiously until I went through a rough breakup with it and now, I'm finally happy intuitively eating and being conscious of my choices, while keeping a consistent workout regimen made up of aerial training, heavy resistance training and light cardio. Basically, I was the crazy gym girl who would cut carbs out completely for 3 days before a shoot, then the last day cut water out completely (psychopath) and carb up in order for my muscles to look "full" in photos. Not to mention the amount of fat burners I ingested that made me feel like I was on drugs, followed by a massive migraine. Guys, I'm the definition of "been there, done that". Don't worry, I'm a fully recovered gymaholic now.
So here's the thing, when a friend shows me a meal plan that her new trainer has asked her to follow for two weeks without cheating and it's literally egg whites, two salads, rice cakes and a protein shake a day ... it really f***ing irks me. Side note: she stays away from meat (which didn't sit well with this guy) and is just beginning her fitness journey. Now tell me how in the world this kind of diet is supposed to keep someone motivated to get up every day and kill it? Exactly. Ain't nothing exciting about eating rice cakes for carbs (unless you're piling peanut butter and honey on them). Speaking of peanut butter, a perfectly healthy fat in moderation, there was NO pb on that meal plan.... NO PEANUT BUTTER... what? What about Greek yogurt? Also a perfectly healthy snack along with sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, and lets not forget the insane variety of meatless protein options we are so lucky to have. Clearly, eggs are not the only option guy. Now, I may not be certified yet, but I sure as hell know that this isn't right. Will you lose weight with this meal plan? Of course you will. You're depleting your body of carbs, in essence you're putting your body in ketosis where it will use your stored fat as energy .. hence the weight loss. While an experienced competitor can go through with this for temporary goals (aka a competition or photo shoot), someone who is just beginning will be scared away by this completely unnecessary strict diet. That or they will stick to it and binge twice as hard when they can't handle it anymore or get a small taste of a "cheat". This can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration and disappointment thus creating a negative relationship with food, and the fitness industry in general.
When someone has made the first steps into their fitness journey it's because they're looking to change their life. They want to make a change for the better of their health and they want lifetime results. Am I right? Haven't you read "It's a lifestyle" like 400 times? Well, this is VERY true. As a professional trainer, you should be guiding your clients towards finding a way of eating that is realistic and can become a lifestyle. Results may take a bit longer this way, but THEY.WILL.LAST. Isn't that what we want? Not only that, but a trainer should take the time to get to know their client and what their client is already consuming. If you have a vegetarian client, please do not stuff them with egg whites. Also, please do not include a fat burner right off the bat because supplements are not needed. Respect their choices and customize a meal plan that caters to them. There are plenty of ways to slowly cut certain foods out of ones diet, and add better alternatives while keeping carb consumption as part of it. Losing weight is a result of a caloric deficit. This means you must consume less than you burn daily in order to lose ... carbs included. Carbs are not our enemies, please do not believe this. I'm not saying eat donuts every day, but you can be mindful of the kind of carbs you are consuming, as well as fats and proteins. Carbs are our main source of energy and contrary to popular belief, will actually support fat loss by assisting in muscle gains. It is 100% possible to achieve weight loss without cutting out carbs.
Your fitness journey should be positive! You should fall in love with the process and learn as you go, while creating a positive relationship with food and your body. You should be able to enjoy your meals, enjoy a variety of foods and even "cheat" daily without feeling guilty. Balance. I live by the 80/20 rule... 80% good and 20% for treats. It makes me so angry to know that there are so called "professionals" out there misinforming others this way. Hence this extremely long article (if you're still reading, thank you). I really feel so strongly about this that I felt the need to share and hopefully help others that might be facing a similar situation. If your "diet" sounds too strict, it probably is. Ask yourself "Can I see myself doing this for the rest of my life?". If the answer is no, it's time for a new trainer.
Please beware of these types of trainers who are stuck in an old mindset and are only interested in your money. Look for someone who is genuinely interested in your health from the inside out, and is willing to take their time to help you change your life. It's also important to know that most trainers are not certified nutritionists and do not have the legal right to sell you meal plans. They should serve as a guidance towards healthier options for an all around healthier lifestyle. Make sure to reach out to a certified nutritionist or dietician for specific health needs and meal plans.
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