What on Earth is Cutting?
Posted on September 18th, 2017
I’m seeing a lot of chat about “cutting” on instagram at the moment. I’ve always associated this term with body builders, fitness models and bikini competitions, but aside from my pre conceived ideas, and the fact is sounds, ummm PAINFUL AF, what actually is it, why do people do it and is it something for all of us – I would argue HELL NO!
I know I’m pretty PG on here in the sense that I don’t want to berate anyone else for their lifestyle choices. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion – including those who engage in and endorse cutting, but I also believe we should look at a variety of different perspectives. If you don’t agree with me, I am always willing to open up a discussion, but please let’s keep our heads. Constructive criticism and alternative views will be debated, but trolls lets keep it kosher – there’s enough hate out there already!
So here begins the rant.
Cutting is essentially a period whereby one significantly reduces or cuts energy intake, whilst maintaining regular physical activity including cardio and heavy lifting. It is a period aimed to reduce as much body fat as possible, leaving those lean, chiselled, washboard abs we’re all told to strive for.
In many cases, cutting is done with involvement of a nutritionist or trainer who carefully calculates macronutrient intakes based on the individuals needs. This can all be put into *sigh heavily* my fitness pal, so the “cutter” can keep a watchful eye on their food intake, energy expenditure and essentially monitor and control vital life processes intended to be based on the body’s natural instincts and cues. In other cases however, people take cutting into their own hands, guesstimating the goal posts based on stuff they’ve read online, or an insatiable desire to achieve the “ideal”, a hunger hungrier than hunger itself.
No one is pretending that cutting is easy either. I often see people sharing tips on coping with hunger, on how to force yourself to the gym when you’re literally malnourished, or finding inner strength and focusing on “goals”.
Well I want to talk about these goals. I, like most people enjoy setting myself goals. It’s great to work really hard for something and feel that buzz when you follow it through. However, goals concern me when they’re purely based on an aesetic. They pander to diet culture (more about that later), and they reduce us humans down to nothing more than our physical appearance.
Ask yourself, does “cutting” make you a better person – more honest, kind, appreciative and aware. Sure it challenges you, and requires A LOT of discipline, but is that the right kind of discipline you want to bring into your life? One in which you risk your physical health, but primarily your mental health and relationship with food.
Now I’m not going to pretend I’m a registered nutritionist here, but starve the body of food and deprive it of nutrients, it’s going to want them more! You’re going to fantasise about Krispy cremes, Lindt chocolate and pizza. It’s simple biological engineering. With this heightened desire to indulge, perhaps you’ll spend more time scrolling through #bikinibodies or #fitspo. Again, is this normal behaviour and is this making you a better person? And then what happens after the cut? Maybe you’ll be praised on your new physique, but will the short term gratification change the circumstances you may have been looking to food and exercise to solve? And when binging becomes the inevitable result of restriction one enters dangerous territory.
In my opinion, “cutting” is a jazzed up way of encouraging starvation. And just like its name warns, it’s abusive.You wouldn’t attempt to drive your car without enough petrol, so why is it ok when it comes to fuelling something more precious, our bodies. Is to look a certain way a valid enough reason?
Further, cutting can have long term physiological and psychological impacts. It can change our relationship with food and cause us to obsess about counting macros and watch painstakingly for our muscles to appear from underneath our flesh. It can become addictive and in the extreme provoke an eating disorder.
People who “earn” their bodies have always been praised and fine whatever. But why do our goals need to be based on changing our physical appearance? My advice is to reflect critically on your goals, especially those related to health and fitness. I’m all for a challenge. Things like pushing ourselves to hit a PB, trying a new sport or embarking on a half marathon for a good cause. But, do this with enough fuel in the tank and look after your body throughout. Do it for you, for an inner buzz or higher purpose. But don’t look to the mirror or scales to evaluate your progress. Most of all, do not get bogged down with “cutting” or counting macros. With everything that’s going on in the world right now life is too short to be logging everything you eat on instagram.