This week I’m exercising the right to tackle some of the fitspo related messages being thrown around on social media that have given me cause for concern.

I’m sure you’re all aware of the common quote:

‘Wow, I really regret that workout said no one ever’.

The first time I read this quote I was like OMG how true! Working out makes me feel alive, energised and strong. It’s a great way to clear the mind and it helps me personally alleviate stress.

We know that movement can have really positive impacts on our health and wellbeing, BUT what about when it goes too far.

 

#fitspiration, #bikinibody and urghh macros are becoming hugely prevalent on social media, encouraging us to make sure we get to the gym at all costs, because after all, an hour in the gym is only 1% of your day right??

In the UK alone, the fitness industry’s market value reached £4.4 billion in 2016, and 1 in 7 people in the UK is a member of a gym (Leisure DB, 2016).

Further, many fitspo icons modelling an ideal and a lifestyle that’s simply not obtainable for the majority of the population. The chiseled abs, two hard core boutique fitness classes a day plus hot yoga, vegan protein shakes and even wearing crop tops when the weather’s totally freezing!

And it’s not just that, it may not be healthy!

Primarily, I don’t want to knock the fitspo community for their achievements, their priorities or their bodies. What I want to say is that it’s not the only way to include movement in your life.

Returning back to the infamous quote, ‘Wow, I really regret that workout said no one ever’, I want to show that this can be damaging, especially when coupled with this fitness ideal that doesn’t always work in the context of the average person scrolling through instagram. Most of us aren’t personal trainers and have many other commitments say kids or a job which may formal exercise impossible some weeks.

The quote is harmful because it implies that regardless of feeling tired, or down or stressed, the gym has all the answers. It also indirectly suggests that if we decided to skip the gym, we would be weak, lazy and a likely, a total failure.

Personal story here, IT IS POSSIBLE TO REGRET A WORKOUT! I have done so several times, but actually I had an experience more recently that inspired this post. To celebrate freedom from a recent exam (2017), I went to one of my favourite restaurants, Franco Manca, with friends, which turned out to be a joyous evening of sourdough pizza with goats curd and watercress pesto, and glass after glass of red wine as we giggled and lost track of time. The next morning I awoke with a slightly fuzzy head, nothing too serious but it would have been well worth my while to enjoy a long lie in, perhaps read a few pages of my book and replenish my system with a delicious breakfast. But alas I had scheduled in a workout, so I hauled my fuzzy head, and equally fuzzy body to the gym. The result was catastrophic. My body was, in fairness, a little bit hungover, but mostly I was just totally exhausted from the exam, the adrenalin and the long days of revising. I totally regretted the workout; I  felt weak and ended up leaving, so the whole thing was a total waste of time. Even more seriously however, I was cross at myself for not listening to and respecting my body.

Exercise addiction is a serious and dangerous condition. It can be easy to get hooked on pushing ourselves physically, when actually we’re causing more harm than good. It IS possible to regret a workout and what’s more the gym can’t solve all our problems. It might alleviate some of the symptoms, but a lot of our worries and anxieties have to be dealt with off the treadmill.

Further, including joyful movement, and gleaning the health benefits from this, can be as simple as a bit of a stroll and fresh air everyday. It’s ok if weights or boxing aren’t for you! What might be joyful movement for one, doesn’t apply to everyone. Find out what works for you and don’t succumb to the ploys of social media that lure us to the gym no matter what. If you’re feeling pressured by your instagram feed, one of the best things you can do is unfollow accounts you find triggering and try to include more diversity in the things you follow.

Most importantly, listen to your body. There is a huge difference between being lazy and truly respecting our body’s needs. Sometimes skipping a workout is the healthiest thing we can do, and I’ll tell you what: – “I really respect listening to my body said – no one ever”!

Instagram @goodnessguru