Fitness Shaming

A few weeks ago, the CrossFit main site posted this photo:

Lee Ann Ellison. Photo by Nick Stern

I didn’t think anything of it except, “Man, when/if I get pregnant, I hope I can do that!” I wrote a comment under the photo that said something to the effect of “you go, mama!”

I was shocked 3 hours later when my FaceBook was bombarded with notifications from this photo. Users called her “selfish” and a “bad mom”. They said she was “putting her child’s life at risk all to look good.” One of them said “I guess killing your baby is worth it to have washboard abs.” 

Appalled would be the correct word to describe how I felt. Appalled that people could not only be so ignorant and misinformed but also so hurtful to someone they don’t even know. An interview with Lee Ann later described her fitness journey: This is her third pregnancy. She has been an avid crossfitter for a number of years and she was cleared by the doctor to continue any exercises that she had participated in prior to pregnancy with modifications as needed. Lee Ann said, “this is the way I’m able to maintain my sanity. My sense of normal.” Because, let’s face it, it’s not everyday that you grow a human. 

After I finished feeling appalled, I felt angry. So people were really going to troll this woman and berate her for her own personal fitness choices, but not say anything about the people eating 15 double cheeseburgers at McDonalds? They’re going to assassinate her character for wanting to stay in a good physical condition? Seriously?

A few weeks later, this photo hit my FB News Feed:

Once again, I saw it and was inspired. I thought to myself, “Man. I know I work full time and am a student, but I’m not responsible for 3 whole lives, a husband, a household, a full time job, AND making sure I work out. She’s right. I shouldn’t make excuses.”

And again, I was shocked hours later when I saw that people had been attacking this woman. Accusing her of “fat-shaming” and “bullying”. They called her all kinds of derogatory names. They attacked her character. 

For the second time in less than a month, I was appalled. I was angry. Really angry. I felt terrible for Maria Kang. All she was trying to do was motivate people and now these ridiculous people were taking shots at her as a mom, a wife, a person. A HUMAN. 

Last week, I posted this picture:

In case you didn’t see it, the left is me a year ago at 175 pounds. The right is me today at 175 pounds. The only difference is how I eat and how I exercise. Why did I post it?Because I was obsessed with the scale and a lot of my friends are, too. And I wanted to show them (and myself) that the freakin’ scale doesn’t matter. 

The scale can’t show me how hard I work, how much I’m loved, how much muscle I’ve gained, how much confidence I have, or what a good person I am. 

The scale is so limited in what it can do that it can only show me my relationship with gravity. 

My friends liked my photo. The awesome people who like the Eat.Pray.WOD page liked my photo. The best part about the photo was not even seeing the change in myself. It was seeing the change through other people’s responses. There were so many “oh my gosh, this gives me hope that I’m changing, too” and “the scale wasn’t changing but I could see the change!” and “thank you for posting this, this is what I needed today.” 

And then the trolls showed up. People started sharing my photo calling ME names. 
A bully. 
A fat-shamer. 
Saying that my only goal was to diminish other people’s self esteem. 
That I should “put some clothes on because I’m not as hot as I think I am”. 
One girl went so far as to say that I’m a liar. She said, “she probably had surgery because there’s no way she could do that in a year.” 

Fitness-shamers.

These people literally are going out of their way to shame people who make changes with their lives.

This time, I’m not appalled. I’m not even angry. 
I’m sad for them. 
I’m sad because if these fitness-shamers spend half the time they spend shaming others on things that would make their lives better, they’d be better people. 
I’m sad that they have to hide behind computer screens to say ugly things to people that they don’t even know.
I’m sad that they feel entitled to opinions about things that don’t concern them.
I’m sad that they blame their lack of self-esteem on anyone but themselves and manifest it by saying hurtful things about others. 

But I’m proud of me. 
I’m proud that I realize that these people and their opinions really don’t matter.
I’m really proud that I’m making my own lifestyle changes and increasing my own self-esteem.
I’m super proud that I took a freakin’ photo in a sports bra and posted it online for God and everybody to see.

I work hard.
I play hard.
I have fun.
I screw up.
I get back on track.
I work out.
I work out more.
And I’m happy.
So sorry, not sorry, fitness-shamers. Better luck next time at finding someone who cares. 

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