Happy Thanksgiving to my American followers!
Our (Canadian) Thanksgiving was way back in October, but no matter when you celebrate Thanksgiving, there’s always something for which to be thankful. (I, for one, am thankful that I am not an American — especially not right now during this bleak period in American history. But I digress.)
I’m in the process of completing my Body Positive Fitness Alliance (BPFA) group fitness certification, and I wanted to share with you an e-mail that was sent to me from my new pals over at BPFA (I’ll blog more about them later).
It’s a reminder similar to one that I wrote for our Canadian Thanksgiving reminding everyone that’s it’s okay to eat food and enjoy yourselves during holidays, and that exercise should not be considered punishment for having a good time:
Here’s the e-mail:
It’s time for my annual message about the holidays as they descend upon us. There are six days until Thanksgiving in the US. And I know what’s going to happen. So I’m going to be proactive here and tell you something that you might not hear from a lot of other fitness professionals. Ready for it?You do not have to feel guilty about enjoying yourself with your friends and family over the holiday season.There. That’s it. Simple as that.You’re thinking “okay, so where’s the sales pitch about using your fitness program to burn off all the calories I eat so that I don’t have to feel guilty?”.No. It doesn’t work that way.I don’t work that way.I just really want you to know that in health, moderation is key. Balance is the key to mental, physical and emotional health. Restricting yourself, punishing yourself and feeling guilty for enjoying yourself is not conducive to your health- as much as other fitness professionals might try to make you feel like it is- it is NOT.Restriction and guilt with regards to food leads to disordered eating habits.As a fitness professional, I will never comment on or judge your food choices. Frankly, it’s out of my (and the majority of fitness trainers’) scope of practice. My job is to design and implement safe and effective workouts in accordance with your goals. What you eat is none of my business, so long as you’re fueled for a safe workout when we meet.
I will never make you feel guilty about your lifestyle and I will always hold mental and emotional health with as high standards as I hold physical health.
I’m also not saying to EAT ALL THE FOOD, although some folks may interpret this message as such. The reason a lot of us eat past full to the point of discomfort on these holidays is because we’re suddenly giving ourselves permission to “let loose” with the plan to begin restricting again the very next day. If we take a moderate approach to every day life, however, Thanksgiving is just another day with our friends and families and delicious food, without the pressure to eat everything in sight because, frankly, you are permitting yourself to have some more tomorrow if you’d like.Your facebook news feed, pinterest and inbox are about to get flooded with “deals” and offers and promotions and “insights” from gyms and fitness professionals and the people who perpetuate their shame-based, co-dependent marketing message.They will try to make you feel guilty and unhealthy for enjoying yourself this holiday season. They will manipulate your emotions and attempt to get you to buy into one of their programs.I once worked in a gym where they invited you to bring your Thanksgiving leftovers to trash in exchange for a Black Friday workout. How crazy is that? What a waste!There’s a reason why gyms are busy in January and attendance drops off dramatically by March. It’s because the January rush is fueled by manipulated emotion AND many gyms do not make the effort to coach SUSTAINABLE habits.So this holiday season, starting right now, take a step back and look at the big picture. Keep your body moving for all-around general health. Enjoy some treats with your family without feeling guilty about it. The holidays are supposed to be a fun time for you to enjoy. Having a few yummy treats is not going to negate your hard work. Chill the heck out and enjoy yourself.Go for a walk with the family. Play charades. Have a kitchen dance party. All movement is good movement- and movement/fitness/working out is NOT penance for enjoying the foods that we eat. Movement is a celebration of how amazing our bodies are and all the incredible things they do for us every day. Give thanks and gratitude for everything it can do!I know this is all easier said than done. As always, I am here for you. So is my online community at www.facebook.com/groups/burmastertraining .Have an amazing holiday season. You deserve it.
Sincerely,Michele BurmasterPresident, Body Positive Fitness Alliance