IMPORTANT: This blog represents just PART of a WHOLE journey. You'll get the most out of it if you start from the beginning.
This blog will help you create a better relationship with movement and your body by sharing a journey. Most of us start from the same point in a fitness journey: we know logically what we SHOULD do to get fitter and healthier, but actually being able to do it is a whole different thing.
So even though I’m a professional personal trainer, I went through the same struggles that most people do with food and movement. We’re led to believe that all we need in order to get fitter is more logical information, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. And this story will explain why…
Ready to begin? Sit comfy then and we’ll “Once Upon a Time” the sh*t out of this tale…
Please note each of these blogs documents what I believed to be true at a particular point of my story, and doesn’t necessarily reflect my CURRENT view. Reading my story and seeing how I created my own Anti-Fitness Project, and built a great relationship with food and movement, will help you build yours. So please stick with the blog even if it doesn’t necessarily reflect your current view either. You might even find that there’s more to learn than you first thought.
Once upon a time (in 2013 to be exact) my brother and I owned a gym.
I was like every other fitness professional, selling industry-standard coaching advice that said people get healthy by exercising, maintaining a “healthy” weight and eating a balanced diet. I was trained by the industry to believe that if my clients couldn’t do those things, they were either lazy, unmotivated, greedy, or undisciplined.
It was my job to be the saviour and teach them the right techniques and hacks to claw their way back to health. Even though I believed it was possible for everyone to achieve that “perfect lifestyle”, I knew, even then, that actually doing it was pretty f*cking hard work.
Trying to control body shape is tough. Humans are designed to be lazy and conserve energy by storing body fat which could prevent us from starving when food was scarce. We’d have never made it beyond the Stone Age without that as a key survival mechanism. The problem is, that we’re not in the Stone Age anymore, and food scarcity isn’t a problem anymore. As a species, we’ve evolved past the need for this fat storage preference system.
Like I’ve said before, even though I firmly believed (at the time) that being thinner was better for health, I didn’t push hard-core training methods onto my clients. I knew that they were hard to stick to for most people because they weren’t fun AT ALL. Instead, I preferred a far more reasonable approach to fitness.
Here were the 2013 tips I used to give my clients to get them moving more:
- Walk every day. Preferably outside if you can.
- Lift weights often to build lean muscle mass.
- If you don’t like to exercise in a gym, find a type of movement you do like. Anything is better than nothing.
- Reduce stress.
- Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep.
Most of the Fitness Industry now agrees (the good parts of the industry, at least) that exercise is NOT an effective tool for weight loss, and shouldn’t be thought of as such. Regardless of what gym machines or FitBits tell you, exercise burns very few calories – only a couple of hundred per session – and so punishing yourself with grueling sessions is doomed to fail.
We also know that you can’t “spot-reduce” fat loss. So for example, doing arm exercises won’t help you lose fat from your arms. This is because fat and muscles are different things – fat doesn’t turn into muscle. And as much as sh*tty weight loss want to convince you otherwise, booty workouts and arm toning exercise don’t work. We can build the muscle in specific areas, but that won’t help us reduce the fat from those areas too. That’d be like trying to drain the water from just one corner of a pool. Body fat is gained or lost from the entire body at more or less the same rate, even if that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Exercise is for HEALTH and not for fat loss. Period.
That was the advice I’d give my clients in 2013. I don’t teach this to my clients anymore. This is because if the current me were to chat with 2013 me that gave that advice, the conversation would probably go a little like this…
Q: Do you actually exercise regularly?
A: Even though I don’t mind exercising, it doesn’t take very much encouragement to come up with an excuse not to. I go through phases of using the gym regularly, but in real life, I never keep up a proper regular routine for longer than a few months at a time.
Q: How does exercise make you feel?
A: The abilities I got from the exercise feel good. I can lift a bunch of heavy things and run fast which is cool AF. But TBH, 75% of the time something aches or niggles. And I don’t really get to use my fitness skills once I leave the gym – real life requires more sofa-sitting and beer-drinking skills than it does push-ups or rowing ones. Shame.
The exercise itself is kind of boring and feels uncomfortable. It’s easy to throw out motivational quotes like “embrace the suck” or “no pain, no gain”. And some days the pain is good. But mostly, it just sucks.
I feel pretty chilled out most of the time and tell my clients that’s due to exercise, but it could just as easily be down to the bottle of wine I drink a night, or the fact that I have very little to stress about – I’m white, middle-class, thin, single, and able-bodied, with no kids, and no money worries.
Q: Do YOU exercise to be healthy or thin?
A: I tell my clients (and myself) that I exercise for health, but subconsciously I KNOW that I work out to try and look a certain way. I’m body positive in public, but just as terrified of getting fat as my clients are in private. I already don’t really fit in, so having a body that fits in makes life a lot easier.
I don’t give people advice that doesn’t work for me. And from what I can see, it doesn’t work for the majority of the population either. If you think the Fitness Industry has something to offer you, then by all means, try it… AGAIN. I’ll even point you in the direction of these resources for non-body-shaming fitness advice…
This blog was to set the scene where my own journey started. But fitness is only one-half of it. In the next blog, I’ll tell you about the other half of my job as a Personal Trainer – nutrition. I’ll reveal the top food tips that I gave my clients in 2013.
But don’t forget that this is only the very beginning of the story. So if right now, you’re rolling your eyes thinking, “Dom, what happened to you? I thought you were anti-diet culture.”, don’t worry! This is only the beginning. Just keep reading!