I observe the fitness and dieting industries every day through my work, hobbies and my personal mission to improve my fitness and I'm sent hundreds of press releases and news updates every single day about the latest trends and products in the industries.
You know what? There's a lot that really irritates me about these industries, and if you've ever seen me rant on Twitter (@BTBSblog ), you'll know I'm very passionate about this. Here are six things that really annoy me about the health, fitness and dieting sector:
1. The picture of health
Fitness, wellness, dieting - whatever you want to call it. Nowadays, all of these words, for many of us, will conjure up images of slim, athletically fit, beautiful women. Like the big name health bloggers, chefs and fitness models. The ones we see posing on the covers of health magazines, smiling back at us on the latest fad cook books, staring at us from a protein supplement advert or lunging on gym class posters without a drop of sweat on them.
Interestingly these women are usually white too, which opens an entire box of interpretations of is own.
Newsflash for publications and businesses: you can be healthy and fit, even if you don't look like these poster girls!
2. Making money by making us feel rubbish about ourselves - body shaming
These poster girls are portrayed by marketeers as successful, healthier, more desirable and even wealthier than you. How are you expected to feel if you don't match up to this ideal image of health? Does it build your self-esteem? Or does it knock it down to the extent that you want to emulate whatever activity the fitness model is engaging in, or consume whatever product she's daintily clutching and smiling at?
It's a multi-billion pound industry and one that has got this far by making women feel shit about themselves. Often, even the model's themselves will discuss how rubbish the industry makes them feel about themselves.
In addition to making us feel bad about our bodies, both industries have reduced the value of losing weight, reducing body fat, getting fit or whatever other goals a person has, as down to being entirely about 'improving' their body shape and appearance. 'Plus size', according to these industries, is ugly and undesirable.
This is not the message we need to hear but it's used, simply because it sells.
It sells because it gets an emotional response from us and we then spend money on these products because we want to 'fix' the negative emotional response that the advertising caused in the first place.
Marketing 101 right there.
It makes me really uncomfortable to think of the amount of money that magazines, slimming clubs, tacky gyms and sleazy health and fitness brands make, purely because they've made someone feel shit about themselves. There are CEOs living in a mansion surrounded by palm trees because someone stood on a scale one day and didn't like the number they saw. And that someone is probably still dieting, still spending money on useless products and still beating themselves up about that number.
I don't know about you, but I'd rather spend my money on something that will genuinely help me and/or make me feel good about myself.
3. Body shaming, while minimising the very real dangers of obesity and poor health
With all this talk of body size and shape, the messages about the health dangers posed by modern lifestyles, get brushed under the carpet.
I get it, it's not 'sexy', 'glamorous' or 'sell-able' to discuss the importance of keeping a check on blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels. But it's these markers that will tell us far more about an individual's health than the scale ever will.
You can be slim and still have these issues owing to a poor diet and/or sedentary diet, and you can also be fat/plus size/curvy (whatever euphemism you want for 'not-slim') and still be athletically fit and have good blood work because you eat a nutritional balanced diet and workout regularly.
Obesity is a problem because research shows an increased risk of having high cholesterol, blood glucose and hypertension, but crucially, these problems are not exclusive to obesity or 'fatness'.
If you have these readings, you are at significant risk of illness and disease like type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, heart disease and strokes (which can even lead to vascular dementia!) etc. This is so much more important to focus on, than whether you have visible abs and is relevant to each and every one of us. Not just women above a size 12!
It would appear that there's not enough profit to be made with genuine messages about health, although the food industry takes a pretty good stab at it, by stamping 'high protein' on everything, including chocolate bars!
4. 'Pinking and Shrinking' products.
Whether it's protein powders or dumbells, items marketed as "specifically designed for women" are made more expensive per unit, given a pink label and made smaller. It's beyond patronising!
Women do not need 'female' protein, we can absorb the very same stuff that men can. Real food sources are not sexist entities! Unlike the industry marketeers.
Women do not need to lift pink, light weights (unless they genuinely like the colour pink). Sure, we all need to start out with light weights, but with training, we can all lift heavier and heavier weights over time. It won't make women bulky because without high levels of testosterone or a very drastic body building program, this just biologically won't happen. Female body builders themselves will tell you how hard it is for them to get to their desired look, it's a look that not going to be 'accidentally' achieved by lifting heavier in Body Pump three times a week. Trust me, I've tried in the past!
My general rule: if men aren't buying the fitness product, you probably don't need to bother either.
5. Detox products.
Detoxing (including these ridiculous teas I keep seeing spread across my social media feeds), is expensive, cult-ish and factually speaking, utter bullshit.
I regularly get press releases in my inbox wanting me to promote 'detox packages' which cost individuals upwards of £500+ a month. Almost a month's rent! You know what they consist of? Fruit and vegetables at best. Laxatives and diuretics at worse, and over consuming these will lead to numerous health problems, including a leaky bowel and digestive issues. There's an image for you that doesn't quiet match up with the sexy image of the new image of 'wellness'.
As well as being potentially dangerous, detox anything is really pointless and over priced.
I have my very own detox system and it didn't cost one month's rent.
It's called my liver and my kidneys.
Drink more water, eat more vegetables, cook food from scratch at home (doesn't even have to be boring salads!) delete the takeaway apps off your phone. Do this for a few weeks and consider yourself 'detoxed' for free thanks to human biology and it's very own cleansing system.
6. Health Food Stores.
Sorry health shops, I do enjoy a good protein ball once in awhile, but you know what annoys me about these stores? They don't actually sell the healthiest foods! I guess this is because not many people in today's society manage to build a profitable business by selling good old fruit and vegetables at an affordable price for the consumer. So instead, health food stores are stocked with bizarre, expensive powers and supplements based on fringe nutritional research, which proves that they're not harmful, but at the same time doesn't exactly provide concrete evidence that the benefits of these items outweigh those of a good, balance diet. Let alone justifies the much higher price point.
So there we have it, six things I really cannot stand about the fitness and dieting industries. Have I missed anything? Feel free to comment below!