I have permission to share this message I got a few days ago from a prospective client. This really exemplifies everything I’ve been talking about for the past few years, all of the complaints and criticisms I’ve had about the recent direction of the fitness industry.
Without getting into a long drawn out story, I’ve had a long history of eating disorders…. you name it, I’ve had it from anorexia to bulimia to binge eating and back again. I’ve struggled with this for the last 18 years approx, so more than half my life! Needless to say I’ve put my body through hell over the years (my weight has fluctuated more times than I can count and by quite significant amounts) I am now trying to figure out what the best training/eating approach is for me so that I can get the results I desire without adding any further damage to my body, which has been very confusing to say the least.
With all of the mixed messages out there I have become quite disheartened, confused and frustrated over the years but now I am actually downright angry with the kind of information that is being circulated, not only because most of it is ill-informed and not based on any scientific evidence but also because the majority of it is purely dangerous and can lead to such serious mental and physical health conditions that it mystifies me as to why this industry is not more regulated?
Anyway, I had actually been doing relatively well over the last 18 months in terms of my relationship with food and training (ie. I was practicing a more balanced/holistic approach as opposed to the extremes I had been living by for so many years). Then just recently (the last 6 months) I got caught up in the whole “clean eating/paleo/no sugar” diet craze and all the work I had done went down the drain and I fell right back into extremely discorded thinking in terms of both my nutrition and exercise. It took me so long to start believing that food wasn’t the enemy and that exercise wasn’t just about burning calories, then before I could even realise what was happening I had bought into all of this nonsense and within weeks I was back into full-blown eating disorder mode.
This is the sort of thing I’ve been talking about the past few years, and new client enquiries (or just a “thank you” message from someone who has successfully followed my free program on wordpress) like this one aren’t even out of the ordinary for me anymore. I get similar ones from people actually IN the industry, some who had never had any issues with food until they started some “fit pro mentorship” type course that put impossible standards on them and made them feel a fraud and a failure if they could not adhere to the impossible.
The people running these courses are (if you believe their own hype) the highest paid fitpros in the UK, and there are similar here in Australia who have modeled themselves after them. Now, I also got all the same pressure and guilt trips a few years back via some industry networks I was a part of at the time. I refused to get on board with all of this stuff that as described above has no basis in science and in fact is based entirely on the outright rejection of all proven science on nutrition. At the time I could only speculate that apart from not being factually correct and misinforming the public, it seemed to me that it was likely to actually be detrimental to people’s mental health and well being. As you can see, my intuition was spot on in this case.
I refused to get on board with this, and was told “this is the direction the industry is going, and if you don’t get on board you will be left behind”. A few industry contacts just blocked me outright for refusing to bow to peer pressure, others talked down to me in a condescending manner as if I was just too stupid to understand the “science”, despite the fact that I already had several clients who’d achieved better results than these trainers had themselves, and all through non restrictive means. I was told straight up in these exact words, “you don’t care about your clients, if you did you would set a better example by cutting out bread and cereals”.
Now, you have to keep in mind I had previously spent 10 years working in the security industry, so I’ve had more people up close in my face telling me what a horrible person I am than you could possibly comprehend, when in reality all I am trying to do is prevent them from harming themselves or others. Therefore, having people in this industry attempt to make me feel like a bad person for eating normal, every day foods was never going to work. All it did was piss me off and make me all the more determined to run an ethical business actually helping people rather than harming and exploiting them. You can easily imagine though, to a younger person or anyone without a similar background… that whole “you don’t care about your clients” guilt trip on top of all the other fear mongering pro – orthorexic nonsense these irresponsible charlatans are spreading… you can imagine how damaging that could be.
It actually makes me irate as you may be able to detect through the text. It is inexcusable.
Now to rectify the situation, all I can do is what I am actually qualified to do. I’m not a trained counselor or psychologist, I’m just a damn good trainer with a decent understanding of sports nutrition. Therefore I can give people an effective training program and suitable, flexible guidelines with none of the restrictions they’ve struggled with in the past, and this enables them to actually achieve (or at least make significant progress towards) their goal physique. Actually getting those results without restrictions is the best way to really unlearn those false beliefs you have been subjected to elsewhere.
Why is that so hard for others to understand? Even with the testimonials on my site and on facebook, some similar to this detailing the desperate and dire circumstances people have come to me in… the people who perpetuate these serious and widespread problems via guilt, shame and scaremongering over other people’s food choices won’t listen and change their message. They won’t even discuss or debate it, just going straight for the “block” button to silence all criticism.
This is disgraceful and unforgivable. I will hold them accountable for harm they arrogantly cause to people.