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Did you know that it’s “Fat Talk Free” week? I just found out yesterday and I’m super excited. A whole week dedicated to not trash talking our bodies?!? Sign me up! The day was created by sorority Delta, Delta, Delta. You can see their video here:
Today I’d like to talk about how to talk to your body while you are fitness training. We’re all familiar with the notion of trash talking in sports. That’s where you call out your opponent and do verbal intimidation to help you win (or at least get air time). If you want to see some amazing examples of trash talking in sports, you can follow this link to the Top Ten Sports Trash Talkers. Unfortunately many of us have also faced trash talkers, gawkers and mean people who have tried to derail our fitness attempts in various ways. From having people belittle your fitness efforts to offering unsolicited advice to throwing eggs at you while you run, other people can be brutal about your fitness efforts.
(Honestly, who throws eggs at people who are exercising?)
But as awful as other people can be about our bodies while we exercise, we are often the hardest on ourselves. It’s so easy to slip into the habit of disparaging our bodies when we work out. How often do you find yourself making negative comments about your body or your capabilities before, during or after exercise? Maybe you find yourself saying things like, “I’ve got to work out these flabby thighs. I hate my thighs.” Many of us do this so often, we hardly recognize it any more. When I catch my students saying things like this about themselves during class, I stop them right in their tracks and ask them to apologize to their bodies for being so mean. I’m serious! Because it starts with one little comment, one person engaging in a little bit of “Fat Talk” and soon the entire class is feeling bad about their bodies–whether they choose to verbalize it or not. Because trash talking your body doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you. This is why trash talking your own body in public is kind of selfish. Because just a few minutes of saying hurtful things about your own body is all it takes to get everybody around you focusing on their own bodies in a hurtful and negative way.
(Fast forward to about 1:00 to hear a discussion about hating your thighs…)
I also sometimes hear my students trash talking their own abilities. They will say things like, “I’m so uncoordinated!” or “I just can’t dance.” And again, I stop them right there. Because if you tell yourself you are uncoordinated or that you can’t dance, you will believe it to be true. And if you believe it to be true hard enough, you will make it true. But there is absolutely no reason for this kind of talk. First of all, everybody struggles sometimes with exercise. Let me say that again. EVERYBODY STRUGGLES SOMETIMES WITH EXERCISE. I don’t care how gifted or athletic you are, when you try something new or significantly increase your exercise efforts, you are going to struggle. It’s hard enough to do new stuff without telling yourself, before you even start, that you can’t do it. It’s fine to laugh at yourself a little when you struggle. There’s no point in taking yourself too seriously. But if you tell yourself you can’t do it often enough, you’ll be right. Celebrate yourself for trying. Revel in the awkwardness that means you are stretching outside of your comfort zone and doing something new and fabulous for your body.
Trash talking has no place in amateur fitness efforts. It may have a place in competitive professional sports, if only to pump up TV ratings. But in real, every day life, trash talking will only harm your fitness efforts and the efforts of those around you. There’s only a few days left in “Fat Talk Free Week” but I’d like to invite you to take this time to practice happy body talk and happy body thoughts while you work out. Be your own cheerleader! Sit yourself on the stool in the corner of the boxing ring and massage your own shoulders. Tell yourself you can do it often enough, and you’ll be right!
Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)
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