Is sharing health/fitness lifestyle unintentionally toxic?

Sunday, 24 April 2016

I’ve talked about relatively healthy veggie food on the blog before, but in spite of my very healthy diet and the fact that I’ve been working out on a regular basis for the past couple of years, I don’t really tend to bring up health and fitness.  Friends may know that I go to the gym several days a week and I eat very low fat, often low carb meals and I feel great for it, but I’ve often felt conflicted over whether or not to share anything about my healthy living journey.

I wrote a post a while back about healthy living and body positivity and how the two can conflict for me at times, and this sort of relates to that.  Sometimes I want to share what I do for my workouts, my playlists, post photos of the new records of weights I manage or something like that, sometimes I want to share the meals I eat to help keep me fit and nourish my body, but I always question whether or not that’s the best thing to do or a message or lifestyle that I want my readers to absorb.

From my own experience, reading fitness blogs or following healthy eating Instagram accounts can be a mental and emotional minefield.  Often I do take inspiration from it, or quietly congratulate that person on their quest for a fitter version of themselves, and yet it can also make me feel bad about myself, inferior, in need of improvement.  Photos of trim and toned bodies after hard work or the posts about their intense routines just make me feel guilty for not ‘trying harder’, and being fed images and tips and ideas of this kind of stuff starts to make me feel like it’s something I should be aspiring to when I know full well that it isn’t.

Although they meant no harm and were just sharing a part of their lives they enjoy, I’ve unfollowed people whose content I otherwise loved for repeatedly posting about their weight-loss and their exercise and their goal weights and their calorie counting, because I find it puts me into a negative frame of mind about my own body and lifestyle. I’ve seen others’ oversharing of their exercise regimes and strict diets have an impact on the lives of those around them, and not necessarily in a good way. I’ve known very slim, perfectly healthy women guilted into giving up their weekly treats and enjoyment of food and buying gym memberships and start scrutinizing their diets because colleagues constantly talking about their healthy lifestyle (completely unintentionally!) made them feel like the way they were living was wrong.  (Not to mention people who talk about the gym or their diets all the time bore me to tears in person – no one wants to constantly hear about these!)

This is exactly why I debate whether or not to share fitness or healthy lifestyle stuff on my blog and social media; because although I don’t really write about body positivity and loving yourself much, I want my content to be a safe, body positive space that makes people happy with who they are instead of questioning themselves or finding flaws.  So how do you talk about it without alienating people or making them feel bad about themselves?

Honestly, I have no idea.

Even a tiny mention of calorie counting, weight and before/after photos are already off the table because I find these do literally no good and don’t align with a body positive way of thinking anyway (the comparison is toxic – all bodies are good bodies, you were great ‘before’ and you’re still great ‘after’). I don’t weigh or measure myself, I have no ‘before’ photos to compare the current me to. I know that I’ve probably lost weight simply from how my clothes fit, and I know I’m stronger because I can lift more and run for longer. I don’t count calories and only think about nutrition and common sense, nor do I deny myself things I enjoy because picking a stick of celery over a cookie isn’t ‘good’ and enjoying a slice of cake after dinner isn’t ‘bad’.

In spite of carefully considering everything I might post and what the message I might be giving is, I still worry. It goes without saying that posts involving weight loss, exercise, restriction etc. could be triggering for someone who has suffered or is suffering from an eating disorder, but just about anyone can find themselves feeling bad about themselves if they’re exposed to certain content often enough or if they’re already lacking in self-confidence about their own bodies.  I often wonder what seeing other bloggers – especially so many other bloggers – talk about their health and fitness routines does to the headspace of those who read them. Do you enjoying every insight into your favourite bloggers’ lives whether you’re into healthy living or not? Does it make you feel motivated and inspired?  Or does it just make you compare yourself, feel guilty or low and criticise your own lifestyle and feel like you need to change?

I want to share my life, but I don’t want to publish content that – whether I intended it to or not – contributes to mainstream ideals of exercise-concerned, slim women who are always watching their weight. I don’t want to be adding yet more fuel to the fire that makes others’ compare their bodies and question their own worth.

This post doesn’t really have much of a point to be honest other than getting some of my current thoughts out there, but I’d love to start a discussion and for you to share what you think in the comments and let me know not just whether or not you enjoy fitness and healthy living-themed posts, but how they make you feel!  

1 comment

  1. I enjoy fitness posts. Especially after getting into the gym recently - I find it interesting to see what other people do to keep fit.

    Kayleigh
    http://hazelnutmusings.blogspot.co.uk/

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