Last week, I sent an email to Tracy, who is one of the bloggers at Fit, Feminist, and (almost) Fifty (I hope by now you’re a reader of the blog!) and who taught me an undergraduate course in writing, telling her about something recently frustrating in the media. Her response included the update I’d asked her four about her fitness adventures as well as her blogging goal for the next month: to focus on positive things. I love that idea and I want to steal it use it as inspiration and try to emphasize positive things here. Even while talking about what’s wrong in the fitness and health world, there are plenty of things that are worth celebrating–and we all know positive thinking is a pretty big deal.
On this note, I want to make sure that I don’t contribute to something I’ve noticed a lot of lately: people contributing to what’s already a confusing field (health) in an attempt to market or advocate for what they think is the only way. Take, for instance, all the articles and facebook posts out there urging people to get off the treadmill—cardio is killing you and/or making you fat (they’re one and the same in the world of social media, it might seem). While I understand that for a strength training athlete or for a woman who feels like she is on the hamster wheel, these articles can be a light: weight training is good for you! And you don’t have to waste your life on the treadmill!
Things don’t need to be so black and white, so either/or.
If you enjoy running or going on the elliptical and this is the alternative to sitting on the couch or not exercising, I say more power to you, Queen or King of the Stairmaster. I don’t think that the world needs the message that exercise is wrong: the average person would be much better to take up an activity without worrying about whether or not it’s just the right activity for them. To a person with a specific goal, it might be logical to recommend cutting back on the cardio. But I don’t think we’re doing much good as advocates for health if we take a stand for our favourite (or income-generating) form being the best at the cost of all the others. Often, it looks like promoting our way or the highway and making anything but our way wrong and somehow “bad” for you. Really, though, if your approach is so superior, its success shouldn’t rely on you making all the other options wrong. That CrossFit is great for you doesn’t mean that Zumba isn’t a good way to get moving. That running is a full body workout doesn’t mean that lifting weights for your upper body doesn’t have benefits.
Maybe because I’m a CrossFitting triathlete who likes to do yoga and play sports for fun I can’t get on board with telling people to stop doing _________(insert activity of choice here) because it’s bad for them. Maybe because I know how many people there are in the world who are confused about how to exercise and take care of their health I can’t stand for taking a chance for discouraging someone from getting started.
I, for one, want to be an encourager when it comes to health.