No lie, there are too many forms of dieting and exercising to count, thus contributing to the fact that the industries and communities of health and fitness congregate in cliques, separate groups and targeted audiences. It would take nearly ten pairs of hands and feet to count every type of healthy living group on every toe and finger! You have the IIFYM-ers, the fit moms, the college students, the bodybuilders, the CrossFit people, the gym junkies, the anti-equipment exercisers, the runners, the yogis, the bikini competitors, the models, the body positivity butterflies who post their stretch marks and tummy rolls, the ED-recovery community, the juicers, the vegetarians, the raw foodists, the Paleo folks, the vegans, the carnivores, and who could forget the donut inhalers who manage to look absolutely perfect?
I can go on and on, but those are just a fraction of what you see. Some individuals belong in more than one group, some belong in only one. There is nothing wrong with diversity at all, unless if it results in an overwhelming amount of discrimination.
Where do I belong? Obviously, I can say that my health and fitness realm encompasses multiple groups. I totally relate to people who are into strength training as well as cardio, and I fit in with those who eat nothing but whole foods, and alternatively gravitate towards the community who love their healthy “processed” foods such as ice cream, bars, donuts and whatnot.
Figuratively, every group is going to run into some form of tension, whether it be outright disagreement or indirect competition. For example, it’s a well-known stereotype that people who love powerlifting don’t click with CrossFitters or those who enjoy cardio, and vice-versa. Other popular misconceptions state that IIFYM-ers butt heads with clean eaters, and meat-eaters and vegans should be enemies (like WHAT?!).
Disagreements are justifiable. Every sector of health and fitness want to attract as many outsiders as possible, but there are only so many to reach out to. Sometimes, wellness can be an extremely sensitive topic because something can be a matter of self-love or self-harm, contentment or depression, immunity or disease, life or death and so forth. Take those suffering from obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Every community dealing with a healthy diet is guaranteed to swarm towards those with serious medical conditions to win them over, especially the Paleo community and the vegan community, both of which have radically different arguments in regards to nutrition. Victims of eating disorders will be surrounded by yogis who practice zen and mindfulness, but also bodybuilders and CrossFitters who believe that exerting negative energy at an intensive level along with putting on muscle mass are the ways to go. Newcomers to health and fitness: should they learn to love their bodies as they are, or push towards working out and eating as healthily as possible to improve their physiques?
I’ve posted about coming to an agreement in health and fitness multiple times, but the truth is, more often than not, there is no right or wrong way to being healthy and fit. One statement does not dictate everything encompassing exercise and nutrition. It’s simply a matter of personal research, trial and error, as well as truly believing in yourself. The body never lies.
From so many experiments, I find that I’ve moved on from Pilates as my standard form of exercise and prefer a mix of high intensity interval training (HIIT), strength training, and a little kickboxing and cardio; yoga and Pilates have become my new methods of recovery and flexibility building. On the other hand, someone else would prefer more lifting and less cardio, or no lifting and all cardio. Simple as that.
Yes, I still double tap on Instagram pictures with eggs, seafood, yogurt or bee pollen. It’s because I don’t let others’ eating differentiations push me away from my friendships or my desire to support them. I still watch CrossFit videos on YouTube, regardless of the fact that I’ve never partaken in a CrossFit workout my entire life. I am a vegan with friends who are complete chicken and salmon-inhalers. I am a gym junkie with friends who visit the gym maybe less than once a month.
What do I hope to see in the health and fitness community moving forward? Firstly, I want to see less imposition of stigmas towards certain figures. Just because someone has an incredible physique doesn’t mean that they go towards extremes (steroids, starvation diets, excessive exercise, plastic surgery, etc.) to achieving it–there is such thing as having blessed genetics–nor does it mean that he or she is being 100% honest online. Secondly, I want different sectors of health and fitness to embrace seeing two people from the opposing groups coming together–exhibit A: a vegan and a non-vegan. Like I mentioned before, I still support several people who follow an omnivorous diet, a keto diet, a Paleo diet or anything not vegan, because I don’t allow dietary choices to completely dictate my relationships. It’s none of my business to convince anybody anything. Every individual, like you and me, knows our body best.
Bickering, stirring up drama, body shaming, food shaming, throwing shade, scamming and bullying don’t earn respect. If anything, they all make the health and fitness industry look like a toxic place. Outsiders would believe these ways to be extreme or radical, and frankly in some cases, vain and superficial. Why would people want to post a workout selfie if they have to look forward to fat shamers? Why would people post a photo of poached eggs on toast if they are bound to face a dogmatic vegan invasion? Why would somebody post a transformation photo if others will tell that person that his or her journey still doesn’t make them good enough?
Being kind and working on yourself earn respect. If we want to attract more people towards the health and fitness community, we need to be open to a variety of ideas, let alone ideas that might not even exist presently. For most of us, our journeys changed over time with new research and new trends coming into play, yet some fail to admit it and belittle others who disagree or simply don’t follow the same lifestyle.
Remember, if we want to build a community, we have to show acceptance to everyone. All of us came with a story, a dream, a reason, a spark that brought us to this community. Whether you dove headfirst or merely dipped one toe at a time in the pool of health and fitness doesn’t matter…you, me, we, all of us are in this together. It’s time to create doors in between the sectors and exit our little realms. The world of health and fitness is merely a grain of sand in the multitude of communities that our whole planet encompasses, but it has the capacity to attract so much more. It can only do so with love and respect. Like finding motivation to get out of bed, achieve our goals and improve ourselves, it starts within. Let’s share more love and respect this year and so forth.