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When I was a kid and my Dad asked how much peanut butter I wanted on my sandwich, the answer was always, “A lot!” The first bite would cling to the roof of my mouth thanks to the thick smear of roasted, peanutty goodness. I’d take a quick sip of cold milk to wash it down, then go in for the next tasty mouthful.
This article is like that delicious sandwich—only instead of peanut butter, there’s a hefty filling of sarcasm so thick that globs drip off the back as you sink your teeth into the first bite. (Enjoy, and perhaps keep a glass of milk nearby to help it go down.)
Cue the overly enthusiastic infomercial voice:
Disliking your body has never been easier! Follow one, or all, of these twenty-three simple fitness tips, and you’ll be sure to fight against your body for the remainder of your life while experiencing chronic dissatisfaction along the way.
1. Ping-pong endlessly between the extremes of doing it all or doing nothing.
Flexibility, enjoyment, and moderation are for fools. We know it’s about going all in, or not even trying until you can go all in. If it seems like lunacy, ignore your feelings. Being a slave to your regimen is the only way to make fitness worthwhile.
Say, for example, that your “blast the fat away” workout program has you visiting the gym four times per week. But your work schedule has unexpectedly become chaotic, making that gym routine impossible. During this busy time, you could still go to the gym twice per week. But what’s the point? If you can’t do exactly what your program requires, you might as well not do a thing. Instead of getting in workouts where you can, you’re better off just sitting on the couch until things calm down enough for you to start over and “go all in.” (At least until chaos ensues once more—then you’re back to doing jack squat).
Say you “slip up” on your diet and eat a freshly baked, ooey-gooey chocolate chip cookie. Yep, that’s a screw-up—you just blew your entire diet with a single tasty treat. Eating that single cookie is a fully valid reason to eat seventeen more, and then follow it up with more less-than-ideal food choices, until you’re ready to eat “perfectly” once more.
Either you’re going to abstain from every treat and never miss a workout, or you should just quit and not do a damn thing until you can go “all in.” When it comes to health and fitness, it’s perfection, or nothing.
2. Your happiness and self-worth are directly proportional to your weight, body fat percentage, body shape, and ability to achieve specific outcomes.
It doesn’t matter that it’s the twenty-first century—you’re a woman, and that means how you look is still the most important thing about you. Happiness and self-worth are limited by arbitrary factors like the number on the scale or the sculpted perfection of your backside. Regardless of whether you’re a good person, wife, mother, friend, sister, employee, business owner, or any other role you fulfill, if you don’t look a certain way or attain the “proper” body weight, your effort and accomplishments are all for nothing.
3. Forget about building a body for yourself. What matters most is building a body for the sake of impressing other people.
Can you believe some people use fitness to build a body that serves them; a body that feels good to occupy? Fitness isn’t about what you want or think about your body. It’s about what other people think about your body.
Closely monitor the number of “Likes” you’ve received for your latest perfectly posed, optimally lit, flaw-concealing filtered selfie. This, after all, is why you eat well and work out: for the approval and admiration of other people. If a bunch of horny teenage boys follow your posts and request “more skin!” then be sure to indulge their cravings. Never under-value the acceptance and approval of total strangers.
Likewise, if someone makes a negative, cruel remark about your body, you should definitely give a damn. Remember, other people’s opinions about your body matter—the good but especially the bad. Absorb their remarks—let them seep into your bones and penetrate your soul—and keep striving for ways to please them, particularly those who feel it’s their duty to share negative opinions.
Remember, both those who Like and Dislike your photos are doing you a favor. I mean, how else would you know how to feel about your body unless these people were kind enough to divulge their valuable opinion? Like clay in an artist’s hands, so should your body be to the opinions of friends, family, and strangers alike.
So what if you’re internally miserable? You can overcompensate by chronically seeking external validation from others.
4. When you reach a goal, don’t be satisfied with your accomplishment—you can always be leaner, smaller, stronger, prettier, perkier.
No time to celebrate what you achieved—as soon as you hit a fitness milestone, move on to the next goal. So what if you performed your first unassisted chin-up, or deadlifted one-and-a-half times your body weight, or looked in the mirror and saw muscle definition for the first time ever? There’s no time to celebrate these accomplishments or to savor your hard-earned victories. Look to the next goal that will really take your body or strength to the next level.
And when you attain that goal, same thing—don’t stop to celebrate. Immediately look for the next thing to make you a better woman. (Hint: it usually involves fixing a flaw, whittling away some other part of your body, or getting a muscle to “pop” just a bit more.)
Yes, always working toward the next training goal or new body part to improve means you’ll be chronically dissatisfied with your body and performance. But so be it. This is just part of what it means to be a woman. You can never be satisfied with your body. You must always chase the elusive state of perfection.
5. Always take health advice from celebrities.
My doctor may have a medical degree, along with years of experience practicing and studying research and medicine, but Gwyneth Paltrow says I should steam my genitalia and stick egg-shaped rocks up in there. I mean, surely GP knows exactly what she’s talking about and can be trusted despite her lack of formal medical education when it comes to all things vagina.
An innocent Easter egg hunt or nourishing breakfast may pop into your mind when you see eggs, but the company Goop saw a shape that a piece of jade could be molded into, and then decided women should insert them in their vaginas.
Wealthy, perfect-looking celebrities must certainly know what they’re talking about when it comes to health, fitness, and what to insert in one’s nether regions. Despite some of their products costing hundreds of dollars, not to mention being refuted by scientific data, gynecologists, and prestigious medical groups, we know we can trust them. After all, they are willing to share information that medical professionals refuse to tell us; they clearly have our best interest at heart.
6. Always be dieting.
This one’s easy. You’re a woman, so you’re obligated to a lifestyle of dieting. You can’t simply eat—you must watch what you eat. Even if what you’re doing is “working”—properly fueling your workouts and producing the body composition changes you desire —you should always scan magazines, books, and headlines for the latest tips, tricks, and secrets to help you diet more successfully. Scrutinize every bite of food by the criteria of whether it’ll help you lose body fat.
7. Don’t conclude a workout until you’re exhausted.
The closer you are to puking your guts out, the better. If you’re not fatigued, sweating profusely, or waddling to the designated barf bucket after every workout, then you wasted your damn time. Completing a workout feeling accomplished, strong, and even energized? That’s a devastating waste of effort. So what if you improved your performance, set a new personal record, or feel amazing? The only thing that matters is working yourself into a sweaty, depleted heap. That’s how you know you did enough.
Moving your body shouldn’t be enjoyable, serve a greater purpose beyond aesthetics, or be its own reward. It’s punishment for having fat on your body, and for eating food.
8. Each passing year, dread your increasing age.
It doesn’t matter that age is a normal chronology of every living creature, a byproduct of not dying. You’re a woman, and that means you should feel terrible about that increasing number. Lie about it, hide it, or jokingly say it’s your twenty-ninth birthday with each passing year. Heaven forbid you see your age as a number that reveals your experience, knowledge, and longevity.
9. Spend heaps of your hard-earned money on supplements.
You know a pill is mandatory for success if the trainer at the gym swears by its magical power. Isn’t it lucky for you that he just happens to sell them? The fact that he makes a hefty commission off those supplements can’t be influencing his recommendation in the slightest.
Who cares if the pricey supplements have zero proof to back up their hyperbolic claims? Surely someone who received a personal training certification online last weekend knows what he’s talking about. I mean, just look at his biceps!
Disregard the fact that the few supplements scientifically proven to be effective are quite cheap (e.g., creatine monohydrate). What reason could a health company have to lie to you? Or, for that matter, use Photoshopped before-and-after pictures to peddle an unregulated product? If anything, the fact that those magical fat burners are so expensive is proof that they will produce the incredible results they promise.
10. Embrace the magical power of detoxes and cleanses, because your liver and kidneys clearly aren’t doing their job fast enough.
Have no fear! You can eat and drink with reckless abandon all you want, because the next glassful of the magical detoxifying elixir will flush it all away. Down the hatch!
Why would you simply want to eat mostly real, minimally processed foods, get plenty of sleep, stay hydrated, and be physically active, when you can slurp down a cayenne pepper/apple cider vinegar/maple syrup/leprechaun fart cocktail that has zero research to back up its claims of flushing harmful toxins from your body while healing every imaginable disease…and melting stubborn body fat?
And for extra measure, let’s not forget the vagina-gourd cleanse! Someone on Facebook said you should stick one up there to “cleanse and refresh your yoni.” So what if your vagina cleanses itself? So what if a cucumber is covered in fungi that can damage your vaginal lining and put you at increased risk of disease? All your friends are chatting away on Facebook about how magical and life changing and rejuvenating these cleanses are; you don’t want to be left out, and anyway, Facebook is the best place to get advice about what to do with your vagina, and vegetables.
Salad? No, thank you. This is for my vagina. I saw a meme on Facebook, so, I know this is legit and trustworthy, even though dozens of doctors are speaking out against this.
11. Don’t concern yourself with silly goals like being a woman of integrity and action. Your value is definitely not about your personality or character. (See #2.)
As a woman, the only goal you should strive toward is making sure your body is as close to perfect as possible. It’s about the superficial, not the substantive. Yeah, so what if we already covered this one? It bears repeating because how you look still matters more than who you are or what you do. Don’t expect this cultural mindset to change, and definitely don’t speak up against it. It will always be this way, so get used to it.
12. Actively label parts of your body as “flaws.”
You’re a woman, which means you’re not entitled to love your body. You have lots of flaws that you must loathe and try to fix (or, at the very least, conceal) despite the cost, time commitment, lack of effectiveness and potential side effects of gimmicky products designed to address them.
When not working to fix your flaws, you must bemoan them, publicly and privately. That cellulite on your thighs? Those stretch marks? Be ashamed of that. So what if it’s completely natural and something millions of other women have? We should all be deeply ashamed of our flaws and search for ways to fix them. Lucky for us, there are plenty of marketers willing to share their secret vanishing creams, invasive procedures, and special diets to help us improve.
And if by some chance you do love your body, like only a raging narcissist would, then you better find some part of it to enhance or improve. How dare you think it’s possible to be satisfied with your body?
13. Ask for permission to enjoy your favorite foods.
If you’re on a date, order a skimpy salad, lest you look as though you enjoy eating. Appearances are important, and it should look like your preferred foods resemble the eating habits of a rabbit. Instead, give every indication that you subsist on tepid water and salad. If you must, you can eat a real meal once you’re safely home alone, where no one can see you.
14. For goodness’ sake, when you break the previous rule—because you will—and eat something substantial, make sure you’ve earned the right to do so.
You better have performed a grueling, fat-torching workout earlier in the day. If you didn’t earn that food, then by golly you’d better work it off as soon as possible. You can’t just have a cookie because you want a cookie. You must earn that cookie ahead of time, and then burn it off later, chanting the “you ate it, now negate it” motto as you climb onto the stair-master.
15. Constantly compare your body to other women.
Fitness professionals. Celebrities. Award-winning athletes. Instagram models who take fifty-seven different photos before they get the perfect one to post for all the world to see. These should absolutely be your measuring stick for success. And definitely listen to women who spout motivational phrases like, “I have twelve kids, two full-time jobs, and a perfectly sculpted six-pack. What’s your excuse?”
We can’t be trusted to decide for ourselves what’s important to us, so we must always compare ourselves to every woman we admire. Feeling super shitty about yourself is the surest way to get motivated.
16. Always follow the pack, even if it makes you miserable.
What you enjoy doesn’t matter. If everyone you know is suddenly competing in powerlifting, you need to work out that way too. Yes, even if you hate it. If everyone is doing metabolic workouts that leave you dry-heaving into your gym bag on the car ride home, but you’d prefer to just pull some heavy deadlifts, tough tater-tots. If everyone is chanting about how boring cardio is, but running a few miles is your favorite way to wind down after work, you’d be advised not to do it. (Don’t let anyone catch you doing it, anyway.)
There’s nothing more rewarding than casting your desires to the side and blindly following others without any consideration of whether you even like that activity.
17. Make sure to complicate your approach to health and fitness as much as possible.
If you don’t rely on hardware, spreadsheets, and fancy apps to keep your health and fitness habits on track, you can be sure you’re doing it wrong.
Eating real food most of the time, getting plenty of protein, making sleep a priority, and managing stress? Right—as though something as complex as health and fitness could be minimized to those simple basics.
18. Turn the way you eat and work out into a cult-like identity.
You don’t “just” eat and work out a certain way—those activities define you. They’re not part of your life; they are your life. Make sure everyone knows that you define yourself by your diet and workout style.
Disregard the poor souls who use eating well and working out as a tool to enhance their life, instead of revolving their life around the one-true way that you’ve discovered. It’s a given that the food you put in your mouth and the workouts you perform increase your moral superiority over all others who don’t follow the same approach. If someone doesn’t adopt your exact health and fitness philosophy, they must be shunned.
19. Always strive to obtain the latest “it” body part.
Back dimples. A thigh gap. Ab cracks. Voluptuous curves. Whatever pops up next as the most desirable trait to flaunt, you’d better do your best to attain it. After all, if there’s one thing we know about beauty, it’s that beauty is defined by a single physical trait. Doesn’t matter that women come in various shapes and sizes and have different preferences. Do your best to cram your body into the one-size-fits-all mold.
20. Remember, the only goal you can have is fat loss.
You’re a woman, and that means the only health and fitness goal you can have is losing fat, dropping a few pant sizes, or whittling away parts of your body. Sure, choosing to focus on making the weight on the barbell go up instead of the number on the scale go down is fun and empowering, but fat loss is all that matters. Every action in the kitchen and gym must be made with this critical fact in mind.
21. Embrace dichotomous food labels.
“Good” and “bad” foods are a strong way to start. “Clean” and “dirty” are acceptable, too. But hell, don’t stop there! Select some “forbidden” foods to avoid at all costs, so that when you do slip up and eat them, you can be riddled with guilt and shame!
Food isn’t just food. It’s a value system for measuring our self-worth. Never lose sight of the fact that what we eat has the power to make us superior, or inferior.
22. When you overindulge or miss a workout, self-flagellation is the only appropriate response.
Remember what we addressed earlier regarding perfection? Well, when you fall short of perfection, you must beat yourself up. (Self-compassion is overrated.) When you make less-than-ideal food choices or miss a workout, make sure you tell yourself repeatedly how much you suck, how hard you failed, and how you’ll never be able to stick with a program. Really go the extra step to reinforce the belief that you’ll never be good enough—this negative self-talk has always worked for you and everyone else who has done it.
Nothing and no one is perfect, but despite that fact, we must still demand absolute perfection from ourselves at all costs and respond harshly when we fail.
23. Never be sarcastic in the way you talk about health and fitness.
It’s a lazy way of expressing your opinions and experiences. Not to mention appalling, unhelpful, and very unladylike.
Okay, then—that’s enough sarcasm for one article.
It’s Time for a Change
Undoubtedly when you read the title of this article, you wondered, “Why would anyone want to hate their body?” No one starts eating well and working out with the goal of disliking their body, or themselves.
So here’s the better question:
Why does much of the health and fitness world cause us to dislike our bodies?
Perhaps more importantly, why do we put up with it?
We shouldn’t. And if you have been, you can choose to stop. You can choose to take a different health and fitness path. Instead of a path defined by obsessive eating and exercise habits that dominates your life and makes you feel terrible about yourself, you can choose an empowering, enjoyable, sustainable approach that makes you feel great from the first day you start. You can choose a path that truly makes you happy as well as healthy.
If you’ve had it up to HERE with the nonsense that permeates the health and fitness world, and want a plan that’s sustainable, enjoyable, and empowering, then grab a copy of my new book Lift Like a Girl. Packed with practical advice on everything from boosting nutrition to combating negative mindset, the book offers step-by-step instructions for starting and building a transformative strength-training practice.
“I wish I had this book years ago.” –C.