Ah, fitness quotes… you gotta love ’em!
While some of them will motivate the bejesus out of you (like Apollo Creed yelling “There is no tomorrow!!!”), others just leave you scratching your damn head.
Today I want to focus on the latter.
“Nothing Tastes As Good As Skinny Feels.”
This is wrong on so many levels.
First, do they even pizza? Because if this quote was true we wouldn’t be in the midst of an obesity crisis.
Second, losing weight should be about eating healthier, not starving. Although they mean well, slogans like this are a gateway to an eating disorder because they create an unhealthy relationship with food which inevitably comes back to kick your a** one day. (1, 2)
“A Woman At The Gym Is Sexier Than A Girl At The Club”
Are you saying the women who go to the gym don’t also go to clubs?
Orrrrrrr are you saying you enjoy perving over ladies while they train?
In both cases they just want you to f**k off.
“No Pain, No Gain!”
The person who came up with this clearly couldn’t tell the difference between pain and gain.
They are not the same thing!
Pain is when you stand on an upturned plug (ouch!), and if you are feeling pain while training it means something’s wrong.
Gain is achieved by pushing your muscles beyond the stage where they feel comfortable. It’ll burn and it’ll challenge you, but it’ll feel nothing like pain.
“What’s Your Excuse?”
True story: I was in a wheelchair as a kid.
Also true story: I’m in great shape now.
So what’s your excuse?
See how adding that phrase instantly makes me sound like an atomic thunderc**t?
That’s because in my 20 years working in the fitness industry I saw countless examples that fat shaming doesn’t work – it just makes people feel like crap.
Speaking at the 2019 Canadian Obesity Summit, researchers explained that roughly 60% of people experience body shaming at some point in their adult life, and that it can very easily lead us down a dark path of anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. The researchers also noted that many victims of fat shaming began internalizing the issue (i.e. the more they heard it, the more they believed it and began putting themselves down!). So don’t do it. (4)
“If A Third Grader Can’t Pronounce It, You Shouldn’t Eat It!”
Natural this, organic that.
I get it.
But can we stop basing our dietary choices on the pronunciation skills of an 8 year old?
Heck, while writing this article for you I’ve already consumed two glasses of dehydrogen monoxide and a methylxanthine alkaloid 1,3,7-trimethylpurine-2,6-dione capsule. If I’m to believe uneducated food bloogers then I expect to blow up like the balloon guy in Big Trouble In Little China!
(That’s water and caffeine, by the way!)
So here’s the thing…
People who say bulls**t like this are usually trying to convince you that “big food” is working in conjunction with “big chemicals” to fill you with “big toxins” until you get so unwell you need pills from “big pharma”.
And the solution?
Their expensive supplements, of course!
Just ignore the fact that all supplements are processed, and that everything is a chemical. Oh, and pay no attention to the 2009 review which found that zero of the leading manufacturers in the ‘detox’ industry could name any of the so-called toxins their products were designed to eliminate. (5)
“Couples Who Train Together Stay Together!”
Have you ever seen gym couples implode?
Oof! It’s spectacular!
So an orange guy meets a girl who only trains glutes, and in the early days it’s all cute stuff like gazing into each others eyes while strolling on the treadmill (which is really uncomfortable if you’re on the treadmill inbetween), and him guiding her around the weights room with his hand on her low back like she’s a delicate little flower who might blow away if the air conditioning gets turned up too high…
… until one day someone forgets to like a social media post and all hell breaks loose. Suddenly the guy is training with his male friends, the girl is training with her female friends, and they trade scornful looks across the cable stations until one of them cancels their gym membership and drops a nuke on the relationship by posting a photo of the sea with a caption about “never making someone a priority if they treat you like an option!”
You’ve been warned.
I mean, if your husband is a f**knuckle at home, they’ll still be one at the gym – the only difference is that now you can drop weights on ’em.
“Eat Less Move More”
The overall message here is true, but it still makes the list.
As well as being a sure-fire way to make yourself sound like a c**t, over-simplifying a weight loss transformation doesn’t actually help the person who is struggling.
If anything it makes them feel worse.
Most of the people you meet at the gym who are struggling with their weight have done so throughout their entire lives, and in order to be successful they need to create new habits which overwrite the way they’ve been living for years, sometimes decades.
This requires a lot of determination, and cuttting it down to a trendy soundbite just makes them feel useless. It’s kinda like telling a drowning woman to “sink less, swim more” or yelling at a homeless man to “poor less, rich more”.
“Obsessed Is A Word The Lazy Use To Describe The Dedicated”
Is it, though?
… Jack the Ripper was both obsessed and dedicated. He was still wrong.
Yeah, some people are probably just jealous, and them labelling you ‘obsessed’ helps to mask their own unhappiness. But maybe, just maybe, they’re saying it because you never shut the f**k up about Herbalife, Susan!
“Get Knocked Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight!”
Do you even math, bro?
If you get knocked down 7 times, you can only get up 7 times!
When social media influencers aren’t sharing bum pics with 900 word captions that essentially just say “don’t give up”, this is the sort of s**t they post! So while we’re talking crazy, I’ve heard that if you fart and sneeze at the same time your body takes a screenshot.
“Unless You Puke, Faint Or Die… Keep Going!”
I guarantee this quote is written across the t-shirt of that guy who dry scoops his pre workout while listening to the 300 soundtrack.
You see, I love a good Rocky training montage but training is not about killing yourself every single time. That’s a fast-track to your local physio room.
Contrary to what social media tells you, it’s perfectly normal if many of your workouts just feel like regular days where you didn’t go at 100%, or you had other things on your mind. What’s important is that you did it anyway. This builds consistency, and that’s what gets you to the end goal.
You’ll also have a sprinkling of terrible sessions where you felt bloated and hangry, as well as some workouts where you felt like a tank. They’re all part of the journey.
“Haters Are My Motivators”
You know the most popular reason for joining a gym in January?
Not to lose weight or live a healthier life, but to prove someone wrong.
Maybe you’ve had one too many fat jokes thrown your way, or nasty little digs about how they expect you to fail. This is what motivates most people to eventually hit the weights room and say “F**k you!”
Heck, I joined my first gym after a doctor told me I’d never walk again!
But here’s the thing…
You can only stay angry for so long, and it’s not healthy to give other people this kind of power over you. If you’re going to become the best version of yourself it has to be for you.
That’s why I’ve never been a fan of using hate for motivation.
I wrote a piece of content on this right here which explains the different motivational drivers involved in a successful body transformation, but the crux of the matter is that we get better results when we replace external motivation with intrinsic motivation. (3)
(This means learning how to set your own goals, training for your own reasons, etc.)
- Smith C. F., et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite (1999).
- Leibel R. L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr (1992).
- Teixeira, P. J., et al. Exercise, physical activity, and self-determination theory: A systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act (2012).
- Vogel L. Fat shaming is making people sicker and heavier. CMAJ (2019).
- Blachford A., et al. The Voice Of Young Science brings you; the detox dossier. (2009).