Fitness. For as long as any of us can probably remember, we’ve been working on improving our health or our fitness in one way or another. Usually in the form of ‘cleaning up’ our diets, cutting calories and entire food groups, and working out until we couldn’t walk the next day.

Fitness once represented a healthy ideal about the ways in which we ought to take care of our bodies. However, it seems there is much more to this word than seemingly meets the eye.

As a woman who has been on both ends of the spectrum–being extremely unhealthy to a woman who was (in every way) living the ‘fit’ lifestyle I can see the dangers on both ends.

After nearly 18 months of recovery from the mainstream fitness mindset I’ve rounded up the top 11 reasons to avoid mainstream fitness. If you’re bruised and battered from a life lived in the pursuit of ‘fitness’, it’s time your mindset got a makeover…

11 Reasons to Avoid Mainstream Fitness

  1. Both the problem and coincidentally the supposed solution too.
  2. Focuses on weight as (often the only) indicator of health regardless of what you had to do to lose the weight.
  3. Makes health, fitness, wellness available to a narrow number of people aka only those who can afford the time, energy, and money for the things diet culture claims are healthy. If you’re a single mom working two jobs, how in the world are you supposed to afford the latest superfood and gym membership? 
  4. Further exploits women and takes their power. At the end of the day, many women are still chasing the fit ideal, not necessarily their ideal body. They’re slaves to food scales, calorie counting, and the next best diet to hit the market.  Sadly, many women come running with their wallets open and their credit card out to buy the next fix. It’s a rare form of slavery—one in which we choose.
  5. Places value on what you look like and what you do instead of who you are. And in many ways promotes similar behavior as those with eating disorders. 
  6. Promotes disordered eating behaviors–obsessive food thoughts, thinking about calories and macros, and food phobia.
  7. Creates fear and anxiety around food, eating, and your body.
  8. Adds to pressure already felt by women to be all the things to everyone. Not only do we need to ‘good’ wives and moms, we also need to do it in the hottest body ever. Maybe there is more to life than walking around in a near perfect body?
  9. Feeds on comparison. Which by the way, is a massive driving factor in body dissatisfaction–the diet industry knows that. If they can create a problem (flawed bodies, obesity, etc), then losing weight and getting toned are obvious answers. 
  10. Shames the ‘before’ body and glorifies only the ‘after’ body.
  11. The ‘after’ photo–it’s not always better. In fact, most of your problems are still your problems even if you’re in a size 4. 

Hear this, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, there is everything wrong about the obsession we have with health, wellness, and the pursuit of the perfect body.

For many of us who have been chasing the pursuit of  mainstream fitness ideals, we might be weary and feel a sense of relief at the idea of completely ditching the behaviors that drove our unhealthy obsessions around food, exercise, and our bodies. For others we might be leery of the ideas mentioned above.

Don’t abandon the behaviors you know in your heart to be taking care of you, helping you become the best version of yourself.

But 100% DO abandon the notion you have to lose a certain amount of weight, adopt a specific diet, or beat yourself up in the gym to obtain your fit lifestyle. Consume information on fitness through a critical eye, and start making decisions for yourself.

After all, only you know what’s best for you. So it’s time to step up and take ownership of that responsibility. It is truly the only way you will be able to be the woman you were created to be, and do what only you were created to do.