Women’s health magazines, fitness (and pageant) bloggers, and even diet products generate tons of traffic (and sales!) through selling us a total myth. They tell us that if we eat a certain way, do a 30 minute ab routine, or
sell them our soul keep buying their magazine/product/content, then our bodies will be perfect.
Guess what: they are lying to us. They are lying to us, and we need to stop buying it, believing it, reading it. Or, at the very least, we should be critical of the information we’re consuming. Here’s why:
There is no one right or wrong way to eat or exercise. Every body is different, and there are actually many different scholarly and other opinions on how to best fuel your body. There are people who advocate constant eating for fat loss, and others who advocate intermittent fasting for fat loss. Some people eat a high protein diet, while others are very healthy eating a completely vegan, high carb diet. I tell you this because…
Every BODY is different, and it’s just not possible to tailor a customized eating/exercise plan in a generalized article. Any source that tells you HOW you should eat or WHAT you should eat without considering your a) current weight/body composition, b) goal weight/body composition, c) activity level, d) oh, basically anything else that makes you an individual should be analyzed pretty critically because HELLO they’ve never met YOU. If they have never met YOU or even virtually analyzed your personalized statistics, they cannot possibly know how many calories you should be eating or when you should be eating.
There’s actually also no one type of “perfect swimsuit body” because there are so many different body shapes. It also follows that there’s no one type of perfect butt, perfect abs, perfect arms, you get the picture. No matter how hard I try, I am never going to be 5’10” and a size 00. God blessed me with a booty and some quads for heavy lifting. I need to eat and exercise differently than the Victoria’s Secret model types and that is okay.
Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t great fitness or nutrition articles out there, or that you should stop reading them entirely. I actually love fitness/nutrition articles, and learning what has and has not worked for others. The best way to consume this information is with a critical eye, and with the understanding that there are many scholarly articles that both confirm and refute every major diet plan. Here’s a few general rules I follow:
Be skeptical if entire groups of people couldn’t follow the “diet you MUST follow.” There’s pretty much only one “diet” that everyone could follow and it’s this: eat whole foods and lots of plants. If the diet you’re considering couldn’t be followed by entire groups of people – vegans, paleo, vegetarians, those allergic to dairy or gluten – you should investigate to make sure it’s a good fit for you, too. The best way to do this is to ask your doctor or a Registered Dietician/Certified Nutritionist. These people have studied for years to be able to give you advice.
If the article is not written by a nutritionist, a registered dietician, or a doctor, you should be critical. The author should disclose that the information contained is her opinion, not the only way to do something. In many cases, articles (and especially blogs) share something that has worked for individuals (usually the author), not something that she learned through years of schooling. In this same vein, you should be critical of the references: PopSugar, while entertaining, is basically the equivalent of Wikipedia.
Accepting that there isn’t a perfect swimsuit body doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have fitness and health goals, it just means that each of us should find our own unique definition of perfect. Whether that’s a defined six pack of abs, fitting into your swimsuit from last year, or something completely different is totally up to you.