Get fit and avoid toxic fitness culture!

1 June 2020

* this post was written by a contributor *

If you follow any lifestyle, health or fitness influencers on Instagram or TikTok, you’ll know that it is easy to get entrenched in certain body standards. Even the most progressive fitness influencers can make you feel like they’re setting a bar that you need to surpass, in order to be deemed fit enough, or good enough. 

Loving your body is an action that comes in all shapes and sizes. It can mean gaining weight as a positive thing for your mental and physical health; it can mean getting tattoos, growing or cutting your hair, and generally making peace with yourself.

One way some people like to love their bodies is through strengthening them. It can feel empowering and amazing to be stronger than yesterday (yes, that was a Britney reference, let’s move on quickly). Yet getting fit in this day and age means engaging in toxic fitness culture - or does it?

Let's look at some more positive ways you can love your body and be content within it...

Photo by KoolShooters from Pexels.

Setting goals for your body, not somebody else’s. Fitness goals are different for every person’s mind and body. You might want to get stronger without needing any external changes to happen - in fact, this is the most liberating way to set goals for yourself. It’s not about the scales or the measuring tape, it’s about your ability - to go further, lift heavier, or breathe more easily while you exercise.

The most important thing to remember is to set goals for your own body and not somebody else’s. What works for a fitness influencer who spends their entire life trying to look amazing, might not be the same routine that works for you - in fact, it probably won’t be. Allow yourself to set goals outside of the norm and you’ll feel much better on your journey.

Avoiding social media if you can help it. Social media can be a wonderful tool, but it is also a minefield for those of us who don’t subscribe to regular beauty standards. If you feel triggered by models and fitness pros on social media, it’s time to go on a purge: unfollow anyone who makes you feel unworthy or rubbish. 

Unfortunately for those of us who find social media triggering, it can also be useful for fitness tips and tricks. Try to find fitness professionals who think outside the box, using different bodies to represent their fitness techniques, not just lean, sculpted ones that make the rest of us feel inadequate!

Learning about what your body needs in terms of nutrition. Your body is a unique vessel, and it should be treated as such. If you want to alter how you eat to make yourself feel healthier, you should - but beware of those who are all too willing to give you tonnes of advice about “getting lean” and your “bikini body”. Ultimately, these are goals that society sets for us, but that doesn’t mean you need to adhere to them.

Instead, you should visit with your doctor. If you are serious about making changes, you can get some blood tests in order to determine which nutrients you need to increase, to balance your mind and body with good nutrition. Taking supplements can help with this, especially if you follow a specific diet.

Talk to experts, not influencers. If you are searching the web for advice but want to avoid toxic body image culture, make sure you bend your ear to experts, NOT influencers. While influencers can be fun to follow on social media, they aren’t fitness experts or nutritionists at the end of the day. They will sell what they need to sell to make money, and that’s that.

If you want to make changes to your body and get stronger but you aren’t sure where to start, make sure you read an in-depth guide to how to perform certain exercises to reduce the risk of injury. If you have some money to invest in this process, you could talk to a personal trainer who is less weight-focused, but instead is more strength and mental health focused, to help you stay positive throughout the process.

Final thoughts. If you want to get fit but are worried about falling into the toxic fitness culture of today, use this guide to help you meet your goals in a healthy way. It can be challenging to navigate social media and fitness, but with our help, you’ll be on your way to achieving your unique strength goals!

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