Bernard, lived on the wrong side of the biscuit shelf, he was down on his luck and out of favour with the biscuit elite. He used to be the biscuit around town with his super chunky chocolate chips and his velvety cocoalte coating, all the girls would swoon. How, the times have changed, he is now a bad biscuit. With no hopes had he of fitting in with the wholegrain wafer thin posse of the good biscuits, Bernard enrolled in a elite military unit. When a spate of murders were reported in the local area, Bernard was sent to prison by a military court for a crime he did not commit. The court was convinced, because Bernard was a bad biscuit.
Well, that sounds like an epic tale of the battle between good (food) and evil (food), I am surprised none of the major bestselling authours wrote it…
I am not surprised at all because there is no such thing as good and bad food!!
(also, sadly, biscuits can’t join the A Team)
This may have been a rather obscure way of getting my point across but I wanted to highlight how much nonsense there is out there concerning food. There are diets which advocate cutting out entire food groups, there are billion dollar industries built around diet methods that are primarily geared around selling you products and don’t teach you healthy choices in the long run. There are detoxes and clenases and all sorts of things that in the worst cases boil down to legitamised eating disorders. I am not doing to go to far into my opinions on these diets right now, but suffice it to say that some of these things can be used sucessfully if you treat them as a short term learning exercise.
However, what I really want to talk about is societys attitude to food and the language we (yes I am guilty too although I do try not to be) use to describe foods.
How often have you heard food described as bad or unhealthy or been told that you or someone else shouldn’t eat it because they are trying to be good. Eating a biscuit has become synonymous with being naughty in society. It is almost like eating food deemed to be unhealthy has become a crime with all the associated guilt and punishment.
There is a pervasive expectation within society (women in particular but by no means only women) that you justify your chocolate/cake/bag of crisps/whatever. Listen for it next time, people say “oh I shouldn’t have this but I won’t get any lunch” or ” I have to go for a long run later” or some such thing. If they don’t do it so directly, you may hear such phrases as “Oh my goodnes that’s sweet, I am not used to that much sugar any more” implying that this is ok because it is a once in a while occurrence and they didn’t really enjoy it anyway. Or someone will shortly after eating whatever it is bring up their running or gymming or the salad they had for lunch.
We now seem to live in a society where enjoying tasty but less out right good for you is frowned upon to the extent that people are driven to feelings of guilt afterwards. People then restrict food in the next meal or day to make up for the “slip” or they punish themselves with a super hard workout…
Food has been divided into “good food” and “bad food” and the two should apparently never meet! It is all about extremes bad food will undoubtedly kill you and good food will reputedly make you live forever as a god. There is no in between!
Well this all needs to stop!
Exercise is not a punishment, if you are doing an exercise that you see as a punishment, it is not the one for you…it is a great thing to be doing for yourself so do something fun!
Withholding food is not a punishment…well actually it totally is, it is one used by sadistic prisons and concentration camps and the like. It is not a thing we should be doing to ourselves because we have been bad and eaten a biscuit.
What is even more important to realise, is that the action of eating a biscuit or cake or cheese toastie or whatever is not an action that needs punishment.
Food is not a crime. (unless you are launching it at other countries then it might be)
Food itself is not good or bad!
Food has no moral values what so ever!
It is all about moderation and balance. There are wrong amounts of foods, this means there are amounts of foods which will cause you to have taken in more energy than you expend. This is true of all foods though. The amount is different in each case but it is still true. I know it is, I worked it out, you can exceed your (average) recommended calorie intake by just eating lettuce…although it would take something like 47 lettuces a day and I don’t recommend it…
I am not saying that all foods are nutritionally equal. I am not saying that there isn’t an element of thought that should be given to what you eat. What I am saying is we need to try to take the emotion and the guilt out of the equation.
This way disordered eating lies. We are becoming a society of people with unhealthy attitudes to food and eating and all things related. A society of people frightened to eat a cake for fear of the judgement of strangers (and friends). A society locked in to a cycle of overeating and dieting and restriction that leads to more overeating.
We need to realise that it is all about balance. There is room in a balanced diet for a biscuit. There is room for a piece of cake. It just shouldn’t be all the cake all of the time…
Now if you’ll excuse me I am going to track down Bernard, he sounded tasty…
This is far to big and vague a subject for jut one blog post…
so what I really mean is:
Media manipulation of the truth in order to sell health and fitness programs / supplements / accessories etc…
Which I also admit is a massive subject and I can’t hope to cover at once!
everyone by now has seen the endless before and after photos that come with every single workout dvd or “diet plan”
you only have to google Insanity or 30 day shred to see pages and pages of photos of people who have undergone a miraculous transformation…
the difference between insanity and 30ds (and some others) is they promise dramatic results, but not without hard work!
You don’t end up buying either of these programs without knowing you are going to have to sweat (a lot!) to get the results. And to be honest some of them ever come with taglines that say 3 rounds or 2 rounds, implying that it might take more than one go through the program to get the results.
The real problems are the gadgets and diets that are sold promising almost magical transformations with zero effort in only minutes a day…
you know the ones for ab trainer plus pro things or the cabbage and grasshopper diet…
or that one wierd trick that will help you lose belly fat fast…
Does anyone know what that is by the way?
I have never clicked on the link but I would love it if you clicked through and paid what ever it is and there was just pdf that said:
Eat better, move more!
There are seemingly endless ways to lose weight and size and whatnot with absolutely no effort at all apparently!
And every one of these things comes with its own ultra convincing set of before and after photos…
The problem is I don’t trust any of them!
I know full well that anything that only last 3 mins or is so easy you don’t know you are doing anything is just not going to give sensible results…it just isn’t. I know this, you know this…so what is with the before and after photos.
If those results can be attained from those “tricks” then everything I thought I knew was wrong.
and if they can’t and the pictures are faked, then what about the ones associated with the more reputable programs based on sensible concepts…
can I trust those?
We have all, by now seen the “amazing transformations” made in 15 mins with good lighting and better fitting clothes…(if not go look)
It has got to the point where I have no idea what is a real transformation and what is faked by the media, and that is a shame. There are people out there who really have done amazing things with weight loss, and it is not fair that their hard work is called into question because there are magazines / TV companies putting up all the fake pictures to sell more stuff!
I really wish the media would stop!
Is there any wonder that so many people out there are getting the whole thing so wrong! Even with genuine knowledge gained from professional qualifications, I still sometimes look at these things and think…”oooh that looks intriguing…” it only lasts for seconds in my case, and i do have enough knowledge to see whether these things are based in science, but what about the people who don’t?
Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!!
This is, unfortunately, just another instance of the media and businesses playing on people’s insecurities to make money.
I am not saying there aren’t systems and workouts and such out there that work, Insanity is blooming brilliant for example< but none of them will work without effort!
I am going to stop now before this turns into (more of) a rant.
This post follows on from two posts I have read recently about body image. Both of the posts were on My good friend Nancy’s blog My Year[s] of Sweat one was about her own perception of body image and the other was a reblogged amazing post written by Beth Teliho they are both worth reading…so go and read them now!! Go on…read them! Then come back here!!
(OK Nancy you don’t have to go read them…you know what they say)
It also follows on from my post last week which I wrote last year about media / fashion led perceptions of female beauty
This post is about the new media wave of adverts etc calling for people to love themselves the way they are and be active if they want to be, calling for women in particular to get up and do what they want to do without worry about people saying they are too fat/thin/wobbly/tall/short/female etc for that activity!
More specifically this post is about a big step I have taken on the way to this! You my have gathered over the last two years that I am not one to let size/prejudice/other peoples perception of my ability stop me from doing something. This, however doesn’t mean I am immune to the “I am too big for this” mentality, I am as guilty as the next person of believing my self to be a failure because I am still not one of those super buff looking people on the interweb!
I spend as much time convincing myself that I am not kidding myself about this whole personal trainer malarkey as I do working out! I so often think that what people really want in a fitness professional is a stereotype and that I am not strong enough to change the system! However, I am also a pretty good actress and I really believe in what I am doing! There is such a difference between an emotional response and logical one!
So in the midst of all of the media fat shaming there has risen the “This Girl Can” Campaign which is a sport england campaign to get women into sport/exercise no matter what shape or size they are and no matter what their interest is whether it is running or boxing! (click on the words and go look at their website, it is pretty cool!)
It first came to my attention as a TV advert which I had an unusual reaction to, I initially thought it was patronising and annoying…
Then I thought about it…
and I WAS WRONG! IT IS AWESOME!!
That was my paranoia doing the thinking for me!
When I really thought about it this campaign is exactly what I stand for in my Real Fitness campaign. It is exactly what I have been trying to do on my own!!
Then something interesting and pretty awesome happened!
I saw a tweet from the This Girl Can to an app which allowed you to make your own poster like the one up there! SO I thought, why not, I do stuff that is not typical and I am not a typical shape…I’ll do that! So this is what I made…
There was a bit in the info about the ads possibly being selected to be displayed in your local area, but I thought, yeah right and forgot about it completely!
So imagine my surprise when this email arrived:
Me, on electronic advertising in places where actual people may see me!! I got another email this weekend just gone saying it would be displayed again on the 11th! and apparently around the country on screens in amongst other ones just like it!
I have really done it now…not only this girl can…but this girl has to!!
It is not the end of my self doubt and automatic “i am too big” reactions, but it really has gone a long way to helping me change my perception of myself!
I have probably said all this before, but I am going to say it again because it needs saying.
It is time we stopped making assumptions about people based on appearance and preconceived ideas.
Forget what you know about me for a second and look at these pictures…
forgetting anything you have read on this blog so far…which one of us is fitter, healthier and better at running?
I know what 99% of the world would say.
Now take into account this whole exercising every day for ever thing, and the fact that Rachel smokes, does no exercise (until recently)and took up running 1 month ago…
see that changes things a bit doesn’t it…
I am not going to lie and say I have never made an assumption like this, and I can even understand why it is most people’s first thought, but I would like to sow a tiny seed of doubt in peoples minds… a tiny spark of the thought that things may not be as they seem…
You may be wondering what has brought this up right now…well something happened a couple of weeks ago that made me realise that no matter how far I know I have come, I am still fighting against peoples preconceived ideas and their snap judgements.
anyone remember this run?
Rachel and I went out for a 5km jog/walk as part of the half marathon preparations.
I convinced rachel that instead of walking back we should continue with the intervals and run walk back…thus making her run almost double her normal distance. At the very end, just as we were starting our cool down walk, two things happened: 1) rachel decided to sprint for a minute, I was going to but decided not to and so started my cool down walk. b) we me a man who turned out to be from a local running club.
the first odd thing was he just started talking to me despite the fact that I was obviously in the middle of something but that is a different point. the really annoying thing was the way the conversation went.
He started by asking if we wanted to come to the runnign club…ok so far, but followed it up with a lot of words which included:
“it is ok that your friend is more natural at running” to me
“I saw you struggling when you came round the corner” to me…no you didn’t you saw me stop when I was at the end…
“the club is really good for slower runners” which was said so often that it became clear that he meant fat runners who are not very good…
and so on and so on!
OK…from the first glance the assessment of the situation could be excused. but during the conversation we talked about the 5k and 10k raced i had been in, Rachel talked about how she had only been running about 3 weeks, and the assumptions and comments were still the same.
no amount of talking, including me assertively stating “look seriously I am better than she is!” (for which I did apologise to Rachel afterwards but she understood) could get this man to change his mind.
In his head, the taller thinner person was fitter. no ifs no buts no nothing.
Even more than that, I want people to listen to the people they are talking to and accept that their first assumption may have been wrong!
To take the positive side of this, these assumptions didn’t make me upset as they once would have, they did make me cross, but they mostly made me glad that I am doing what I am doing. The more people out there running / swimming /lifting / climbing / whatevering of all sizes, the more chance there is of making the world realise that the world of fitness is not just the domain of the super stereotypically fit looking!
I am still working towards not getting the sympathy clapping at the end of races mind you!
(by the way, I am not casting aspersions about Rachel in this post…she knows what I mean!)
Throwback Thursday is a thing right?
AM I right about this or did I make it up?
Or did it end and I am more than fashionably late to the party?
whatever the outcome, I am going to repost my views on relativity. Not the Einsteinian concept that is bot awesome and complicated beyond measure, but the concept that it is possible to make someone feel better by telling them that “it is all relative…someone has it worse than you somewhere”
I know it is not entirely health and fitness related, but it relates to wellbeing which is a sort of mental fitness 😀
Originally posted on 12th March 2011 on a previous blog Concerning the Nature of Things
Concerning the Notion that Everything is Not Relative
Recently, someone said to me “it is all relative” as I am sure they have said it to you and I am sure they will continue to say. But it is this notion of relativity that I want to talk about today. Not going to get into Einsteinian physics because I am just not that good, what I do want to talk about is the concept that something can increase or decrease in merit purely because of the things around it. I am sure that there are no absolute answers when it comes to this, but it is something worth thinking about.
If I break my leg, does it hurt less because someone else breaks both of theirs? I don’t think it does,I think that each case has its own inherent properties. If I am sad, the fact that someone else is sadder doesn’t make me happier. I do not think that every case of misfortune is equal, it is evident that loosing a limb is worse than loosing a sock I am not trying to belittle anything that has happened to other people I am just saying that the scale of someone else’s bad luck doesn’t change that of yours.
It is interesting that when people use the “it’s all relative” statement they are normally trying to make you feel better. You never hear some one who is happy about having passed an exam being told, “well it’s all relative…someone just won the Nobel peace prize”! I think it is important to recognise the magnitude of something for what it is. Telling someone that they should feel better about something bad because some people have it worse is insulting!
It is a truth that can be applied to many walks of life, a tall building doesn’t get shorter because the on next door is taller. A piece of art is as good as it is, it is not suddenly worse because someone makes a better one!
It was tricky to find a photo, to go with today’s postulation but I thought I’d go with this. It is a picture I took of the London Eye and I like it. There are hundreds (thousands/millions) of pictures of this subject, I do not like mine any less because there are thousands of better ones or any more because some are worse. The quality of the picture belongs to it and cannot be changed by comparison.
Incidentally I do have to be careful to not take this principle too far, there is still room in life for perspective, just be aware that by telling someone that “it could be worse” it may make them feel worse because it makes them feel they have no right to feel the way they do.