Fitness Does Not Need to Be All Consuming

Posted: March 4, 2015 in General Fitness
Tags: , ,

I’ve been getting more and more frustrated lately with certain messages I see on fitness based websites and from people I follow on various websites who are into fitness that are all about fitness and diet being all consuming of their lives.

And I understand some of it and can relate, on those days when friends are trying to get me to come out to a party and I just want to stay home and lift weights, it’s nice to connect with other people who do the same and joke about having no social life in favor of weights. I get that. Just the same as I like connecting with other doctoral students and academics and joking about having no life because of school, staying in to write papers or read, or thinking you can go out and read while you are there (I tried this when I started my program, lol. “I can go out to the bar and just bring my kindle with me and read while I’m there in order to do it all!”

But there is a point when it goes passed this joking about spending time with your barbell instead of at a bar, into this idea that the only thing in life is working out and eating.

It’s been more of a slow thing for me. The first few times I see people talk about their whole lives revolving around their fitness and diet it didn’t seem like a big thing. But being around it over and over I’m getting so annoyed with it. And again, I’m talking about the idea that one’s whole life revolves around fitness and diet- can’t EVER go out because you are either working out or sleeping. Can’t ever drink because it doesn’t fit your diet. Only friends are at the gym.

One example of this:

Well there is also a problematic message here about not trusting your girlfriend. If your girlfriend is out at the bar with her friends, that shouldn’t be a problem. She should be allowed to have a life outside of you, the gym, eating, and sleeping. Actually that kind of reeks of the way abusers seek to isolate their victims from all other areas of support in their lives :-\

But it’s also frustrating the idea that fitness means it’s your whole life.

So this “everything has to be about fitness” trend is bugging me. But when things annoy me I do try to stop and work out why it annoys me, why do I feel that way about it. So I was thinking about this. Because I’m questioning myself, why does it bother me if other people make fitness the center of their life? Why does it matter if everything revolves around that for them? It’s their choice and their life!

So trying to work through it, I realize what really bugs me about it is the way is seems to suggest that this is what fitness always looks like. A “fitness girl” never does anything but workout, sleep, and eat… and spend time with her significant other. Apparently she doesn’t even have a job! (unless she works at the gym?)  She has no friends outside of you or the gym. She has no other hobbies or interests. Just the gym and food. This isn’t speaking to one single person’s life choices, it’s suggesting this is what fitness always looks like. This is the only way to be involved in fitness it to take it to the extreme of having everything else in your life revolve around it.

That’s not the case! You can enjoy fitness and still have a wide variety of other hobbies and interests! You can enjoy a night at the barbell on day and a night at the bar drinking and singing karaoke with your friends another. You can track your macros and still enjoy some beer or wine here and there. You can workout and still have friends! Or even a family! You can enjoy fitness and whatever else happens to be part of your life!

And the reality is, people who enjoy fitness come from all walks of life. We all have a wide variety of other interests and hobbies besides working out and eating food.

That’s what bugs me about this. The redefining of “fitness” to exclude the vast majority of people who enjoy some form of fitness activity, and the message to anyone thinking of starting a fitness routine that the only right way to do it is to give up everything else that you enjoy. That’s bullshit. If you want to make fitness your whole life, good for you, it’s your life, but don’t pretend that’s what “fitness” inherently is.

  1. vanessa says:

    I couldn’t agree more. In my experience a lot of these “fitness” addicts are in fact body builders. Who are more concerned about their percent body fat, than their overall health and functionality. I prefer to be active and fit and pursuing life and all that it entails! Even food and drinks and outings with friends!

    • keen peach says:

      I agree and I actually love body building. I can’t believe how much it is isn’t talked about that the top competitors who are portraying this “healthy lifestyle” are not living healthy in any way! You can build muscle and still be healthy. Build muscle, stay healthy, and maintain 7 % body fat? Not so much. This whole “year round leanness” thing needs to go. It is unrealistic and unhealthy.

      • ebay313 says:

        The funny thing in a way is that a lot of people I see saying this stuff do have other interests, hobbies, et cetera. And not all are obsessed with maintaining very low body fat all year round. But it’s as if people feel they have to talk that way in fitness.
        It actually does remind me of being a doctoral student. There is this mentality among some folks that you have to act like you never have any life outside of school- I’ve seen people talk about being too busy to shower. Sorry but I doubt you went years without showering and if you did, gross, rethink that. I actually love my fellow students in my program because we all unapologetically have lives. I will not apologize for relaxing with wine and movie sometimes, or spending a whole day doing no schoolwork while I celebrate my cousin’s 6th birthday, or going to a bar, or taking a few hours here and there to work out. I can be a doctoral student and still do those things (though technically the jury is still out on if I, personally, can successfully complete the program while doing that. That said, others have.)
        It seems a similar thing. Like a social pressure to prove you are so hardcore at it you do nothing else.

    • ebay313 says:

      Even body building, much as I’m not personally a fan, doesn’t have to always be like that. But I hear you on the more holistic view of health! I think far more people involved in fitness need to remember that health means more than just fitness.

  2. G says:

    I think as fitness has become more democratized, people who claim it as an identity push ever farther towards the fringes to stake out their space. You’re not a runner if you enjoy a 5 miler now and then, you need to be running sub-8:00 marathons. You don’t lift if you spend a few hours in the gym a week, it needs to be the all-consuming focus of your life. And so on…

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