“Gym is my boyfriend”

“Gym is my boyfriend”. Yep. Wow. I seriously saw a young girl wearing a top saying this the other day. Other ridiculous fitness memes I’ve seen flying around the internet include “obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.” No. Being lazy is no more unhealthy than turning fitness into an obsession. Or “the only workout you’ll regret is the one you didnt do”. Yes because forcing yourself to workout when your body is exhausted is a terrific idea.

I guess this post has been a long time coming. I could probably write a similar post every day. I feel like I often go off on random rant on my social media pages and I’m shocked at how many people actually read the nonsense that I write. Before I start I just want to make it clear that I don’t want to offend or upset anyone, it’s just an area that I feel so strongly about because I feel that so many people are unable to see the bigger picture when they’re so wrapped up in the warped reality that is social media. I’m also incredibly grateful to all the amazing people I’ve met through social media (you know who you are!), for all the support I’ve had and people who have reached out to me for support as I truly to want to help people to live a more balanced lifestyle.

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I could probably extend this list to the hundreds, but my top five gripes are probably:

First and foremost, MACRO COUNTING. I can’t so much as post a food picture without people immediately asking for the macros or for how many calories I eat a day. Truthfully I have NO idea, and I neither want to nor need to know. When did it become the thing to obsessively track every item of food that entered our mouths!? Or to determine how successful the day was by whether we over- or under-ate!?

Secondly, the irony of flexible dieting. Can someone please explain to me what’s so flexible about having to eat an EXACT amount of food each day? Or what’s so flexible about not being able to eat even if you’re starving just because you had a treat that “blew your macros”. Or what’s so flexible about not being able to eat anything that you don’t know the exact nutritional breakdown of?

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Third, and god this makes me mad – people who kid themselves! A zero cal sweetened quinoa stuffed protein infused grass fed steamed whey calorie free low carb cookie IS NOT A REAL COOKIE. Yes of course make healthier alternatives – I think it’s a great idea and I do it all the time because I can eat more and I can eat them every day but I’m not deluded enough to think it’s the real thing – are you actually fooling yourself or have you just never had a real dessert? I love experimenting in the kitchen producing more nutritious versions of the bakes and desserts that I love and don’t get me wrong, I’m often surprised that something healthy can taste so good but does it compare to a real cake or brownie!? Nope. At the other end of the scale there are people who kid themselves that they’re being healthy and they just can’t for the life of them figure out why they’re not losing weight. Think ‘secret eaters’ (if anyone’s ever seen it!) – it’s terrible TV but it illustrates my point perfectly. People who are convinced that they under-eat and make healthy food choices yet conveniently forget about the double sausage butty and seven hashbrowns they scarfed down at 10am after they ‘so healthily’ skipped breakfast.

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Which leads me to my next hate – people who skip meals SO they can eat dessert. People genuinely comment on my dessert bowl pictures asking if I have it instead of a meal. I’m sorry, WHAT!? Fitness people preaching about health then not having dinner because they “have a sweet tooth” and proceeding to have a “flexbowl” for dinner. Because it doesn’t matter if you just eat cookies and ice cream for dinner as long as you’re under your daily macros. Obviously.

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Last but not least, people saying that they’ve “earned food”. I can barely believe my eyes when someone who social media regards as an inspiration write something so terrifically stupid like “Just smashed a workout so I’ve earned this brunch.” Or “Just trained legs so I deserve this cake.” HELLOOOO you don’t earn food, you NEED food!! I don’t know if it’s more worrying that they actually think that, or that their thousands of followers are actually reading it and some of them might actually respond in any other way than laugh. You do not need to exercise to eat treat foods, or any food. You need to eat to stay alive, and if you work out then you need to eat more to fuel your body. You don’t need to cut back because you didn’t exercise. You don’t need to avoid carbs because it’s a ‘rest day’. Your body (believe it or not!) does not magically morph into some organ-less corpse unable to process carbs just because you didn’t exercise, or after 6pm, or 9pm or whatever this elusive cut off point is after which we just CAN’T EAT CARBS.

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Personally I just find it a bit sad. I’m old now. At least more than old enough to know what works for me, to know what is and isn’t “normal” and to be comfortable knowing that all of the above is utter crap. But I see so many young and easily influenced people on social media who genuinely buy into this stuff. People who think macro counting and working out every day is normal. People who become obsessed with what they’re eating and how they look and what they’re doing compared to everyone else. People who value their self-worth on how they look. If I got a pound for every time I got a comment asking how many times a week I work out or how much I eat a day I’d be a millionaire. Probably a billionaire. The truth is I DON’T KNOW! I don’t work out a set number of times per week or eat a certain amount of food each day but even if I did, what exact use would that be to you!? People have asked me to do a ‘what I eat in a day post’. I’ve seen them on social media, followed by an influx of abusive comments. You just can’t win. For the restrictive eaters they get ‘How do you eat so little, that’s SO unhealthy,’ or ‘you’re eating way too few carbs.’ For people like me it’s ‘you must spend hours in the gym to work all that off’ (LOL, because I don’t have a job or a life or anything) or ‘won’t you get a heart attack from all of that sugar?’ If I tell you I eat seven pizzas and workout for 10 minutes a year or that I live off lettuce leaves and workout for 18 hours a day are you going to do it!? Of course you’re not (I hope) – everyone is different and what works for me simply will not work for others. I’m not saying it’s easy – it’s bloody hard not to compare, but with something that’s so uncertain and so different for everyone find something that works for you.

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I recently posted a picture of the Bol foods salad pots which I got sent to try. They’re full of all the good stuff – a ton of veg, complex carbohydrates and plant based protein sources yet someone actually commented asking me for the macros. I honestly find it depressing that for so many people that seems to be the first thought they have when they see food – what are the macros? – with no regard to how good it looks, how many additives there are or what the food even is! As I always say I just think it’s so unnecessary particularly when eating real/proper/whole foods. Yes of course it’s good to be aware of what you’re eating to get a balance – no matter how much junk food or cake I eat I always try to make sure that I get in plenty of nutritious foods too but to me that’s where the awareness should stop. When something is clearly full of such good ingredients what does it matter!? I’d much rather eat something like this than something with low carb/high protein/high fat/low fat (or whatever it is people want these days) that is full of crap. If you truly need to track short-term because you’re competing or recovering from an eating disorder than of course I’m not saying don’t do it, but don’t lose sight of what is ‘normal’. I’m eternally grateful to have friends and family in the ‘real world’ who I go out to eat with. We can eat anywhere/anything and they don’t know what a macro even is, let alone worry about them. I have friends who are into fitness, friends who have never set foot in a gym, friends who love running, weightlifting, playing sport – from all backgrounds, but the one thing that they have in common (and the one thing which I really value) is that they’re just relaxed about their food and their training. They don’t let it rule their lives or become an obsession. They eat food because they like it, we go out to eat because we enjoy it. We don’t just meet up to train, we meet up because we want to! I think in a social media community with such strong fitness bias, people can lose sight of what is normal and feel like they ‘should be’ doing things because everyone is or because it’s the latest thing to do, forgetting that if 60% of people on social media track, that probably equates to about 0.6% of the actual population as a whole. (Definitely just plucked those figures from mid air, no one question me on that!).

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Ultimately I just think people just try to overcomplicate things. Come on guys. This is 2016. People have been eating intuitively and (shocker!) living perfectly happily for about 2014 years. Why do we feel the need to over complicate very simple things? Fuel your body with real foods. Allow yourself treats. Eat the foods you love. Seek happiness rather than a certain image. Try to be the best version of yourself, don’t try to be someone else! You don’t have to starve yourself twice a week then stuff your face for the other five. You don’t have to drink some putrid juice because some company is marketing a wonderful weight loss juice diet (of course you’re going to f*ng lose weight if you live on some vile liquid for a week. And of course they’re going to claim Jane, Sally and Sue have had incredible LIFE CHANGING results – it’s their bloody job). You don’t have to weigh out every morsel of food you put in your mouth. You don’t have to decide whether you can have 2/3 of an avocado, 1/16th of a dairy milk bar or 17.9279grams of PB. You don’t have to starve yourself all day Coz oh god you’re going out for a (heaven forbid!) untracked meal that night. Use your common sense and let your body tell you what it wants! Do you ever think oh I’m so thirsty but I can’t have a drink coz I already drank two litres today. Course you don’t! You drink Coz you’re thirsty just like people should eat when they’re hungry!! For me I know, if I’ve had a bad few days of takeaways and crap food then I’m craving veggies. Even the THOUGHT of eating less of the foods I love makes me want to stuff my face! By all means be mindful of what you’ve eaten – ensure you’re getting enough fruit, veg and nutrients, but it doesn’t need to take over your life!!

I realise that this post may have come across as a rant, and I am fully aware of how easy it is for me to say all of the above which some people find very hard, but honestly I’m just trying to tell is how it is and how I see it. Life’s too short, it’s there to be enjoyed and it makes me so sad to see young people let irrational thoughts get in the way of enjoying the best years of their lives. When I was at University I went out, drank too much, slept too little, ate too many takeaways, never touched a vegetable and didn’t have a care in the world but you know what.. I’M FINE! That kind of lifestyle is no more sustainable than the macro-tracking one but it’s part of life and growing up so go and enjoy yourself and find your own balance 🙂

10 thoughts on ““Gym is my boyfriend”

  1. I follow various people on Instagram. Your Instagram is pretty much the only one that doesn’t make me want to cry. It’s so nice to follow someone who doesn’t put “MACROS: xx f, xx c, xxp” at the bottom of every post.

    In general, I eat healthily. I don’t have much cake and crisps and chocolate. I suffered from an ED for many years and I can honestly say I am happier without having these foods constantly in my house. However, if I do want a cookie, I want a REAL COOKIE, not a low calorie, “you can eat the whole batch” alternative that most people seem to post about. I don’t care how many calories it has in it, because a cookie shouldn’t be low calorie. It defeats the point of a goddamn cookie otherwise.

    As someone who has suffered from an ED and carefully tracked every single thing that enters my mouth, it’s a relief to have let go of all that now. It’s amazing how care free eating is once you stop weighing out everything and counting.

    So I fully agree with you; humans managed thousands of years without tracking intake, I’m not starting anytime soon.

    I’m not perfect. My dislike towards cake and treats is not healthy, however, I will sort this out with time. My end goal is to be able to eat what I want, when I want and in moderation, with no counting or tracking.

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    1. Thank you so much – I’m so happy you feel that way and I really appreciate your comment. It’s lovely to hear that you’re on your way to recovery and sounds like you’re making huge progress 🙂 having spoken to others who used to track and have now stopped they said the exact same as you – it’s a relief and they feel free! I hope the rest of your recovery goes well! X

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  2. PREACH. Thank you for this.

    I have had anorexia and find a lot of social media extremely disturbing. (Recovered for five years.) There is quite a worrying and pernicious trend of very disordered eating behaviour becoming accepted and normal. Like obviously you track and have replaced dairy despite no allergy, oh and, no I am not eating gluten this week because some non-professional blogger said it eats my gut alive.

    ARGH.

    It started with carb hate, then dairy bashing, then gluten phobia. Now it’s increasingly normal to eat fad foods and totally obliterate entire food groups for no reason.

    I literally can’t scroll Instagram without seeing some sort of weird ‘breakfast’ smoothie (since when is a bowl of fruity water topped with bee pollen a meal!?) instead of real food. Actual balanced meals.

    Don’t even get me started on macros. Like you say, we have survived for thousands of years by just eating. No numbers, no packaging, just food made into meals.

    It enrages me actually. I don’t understand what is happening. Aside from the $$$ people are sending down the toilet (literally) for no reason, the psychological ramifications are worrying. How many young people who follow these accounts and bloggers are going off to university (and life as adults) and thinking this is how they have to cook and learn to live? How many people are now unable to sit down to a burger and brownie without asking for a vegan, gluten, dairy free version!!?

    And exercise!? When did a walk stop being a legitimate stretch and relaxing way to move? When did you have to start doing 7 mile runs every morning or be made to feel a failure. It’s just so sad. This not living.

    Sorry for the huge ass rant! 😉
    You are amazing and keep on getting your voice out!

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  3. Thank you so much for this post! I’m currently suffering from an eating disorder, and i used be an anorexic but now it’s morphed into some crazy obsession with healthy foods and working out. I’m in recovery now, and it’s hard not to get caught up with all the negative messages social media sends us! Your instagram honestly inspires me so much and it makes me so glad to see that there are still people with normal relationships with food around and it’s not normal to eat kale 24/7.
    I’m struggling to find balance as i’ve spent the last two years of my life tracking all my food and labelling them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but i’ve been trying to get rid of that mindset and your posts help me every single day.
    I was feeling awful for a few days of ‘bad eating’ i’ve just had and i feel so much better after reading this post, you’re right, life is for living! I’m just 16 and i don’t want to waste my youth with stupid food fears!
    Thank you for being such and amazing person.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Laura, and I’m so glad that my post made you feel better! It’s scary how many people suffer from EDs nowadays, and you’re right – at just 16 you want to be enjoying your life, not worrying/fearing foods! The world is changing so much – I think back to when I was 16 and I honestly had no idea what a macro was! I just ate and enjoyed food and although it’s easier said than done I really think that’s just the way it should be 🙂 I hope your recovery goes well!

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