I remember telling one of my first clients, "I'm not going to 'Jillian Michaels' you," because I refused to verbally abuse her to initiate change and trying to find a way to respond to another client's request for Biggest Loser-Style Workouts when she desperately needed support and love, not an hour of misery. (Full disclosure: at the time, I was struggling hard with my bulimia and body dysmorphia. But even if I couldn't stop abusing myself, I wasn't going to help others do it.)
I haven't watched the show since its first season, but couldn't miss the backlash online today as Rachel Frederickson appeared - emaciated - at the finale to claim her $250,000 prize. All I could think was "I'm embarrassed to be a part of the fitness industry."
I pride myself to be among the ranks of the Strong First community, who teach and practice intelligent strength. I am grateful to be a registered yoga teacher, working with beautiful spirits who teach grace is a way of life.
I am embarrassed - however - to be part of an industry that tells women that a thigh gap is not only achievable, but admirable....and since strong is the new skinny, be sure to top it off with a 6-pack.
I am frustrated to be a trainer in an environment where self-abuse in the form of over-exercise is encouraged and only tempered with "be sure to take a rest day."
I am angry at the thousands of under-qualified, overly-charismatic fitness "professionals" that sell their clients on body shame and unrealistic expectations. (I was told once, by a personal training manager, to ask clients, "What part of yourself do you hate the most when you look in the mirror? How much would you pay to get rid of that fat?" All I could do was stare at him.)
More than anything - I am sorry, legitimately full of sorrow, for all the women who have fallen prey to the idea that because a diet didn't work, they are somehow flawed. For all the women who have stood in the locker room and cried because the number on the scale left them feeling so desperately unworthy that they couldn't even step out into the gym to do something good for themselves. For all the beautiful human beings who watch shows like the Biggest Loser and wonder "What's wrong with me that I can't do that?"
So maybe join this guy and Boycott The Biggest Loser?
Maybe take a deep breath, look in the mirror and make the commitment to accept the radiant beauty that is You, moment to moment, fat cells and all.
Maybe reach out to someone who is hurting or hurting themselves and remind them that self-abusive dieting isn't the only way?
Or maybe just take a deep breath and send Rachel Frederickson a whole lot of compassion.