As women we are bombarded by diet culture from an incredibly young age, children as young as 6 are developing life altering eating disorders, and disordered eating is rife in schools, workplaces and social groups. An ideal aesthetic is often preferred over actual health and unfortunately this is often something that a lot of trainers in the fitness industry will take full advantage of.
I trained as a Pilates Teacher and Personal Trainer in the hope to combat the incessant noise from fitness trainers pretending to promote health but actually trying to make money by preying on your insecurities. I wanted to change the narrative from looking at what we could lose to what it was possible to gain through a balanced and positive relationship with food and exercise.
I have spent years making sure that I support the work that I do and the life that I want to live, by surrounding myself with likeminded people on and offline.
However, whilst I was pregnant, the algorithm began to throw adverts my way and I was shocked to see the below bit of clickbait:
“THE WORKOUTS I DID TO DROP THE POUNDS SAFELY & TONE UP WHILE PREGNANT”
I lost it. A fitness trainer, whose advert for her pregnancy programme had the above headline, then began by saying, “I really didn’t think it was possible to TONE UP while pregnant. I also didn’t think it was possible to safely drop some pounds during my pregnancy…but it was! I was not feeling great about myself and the first few months, I piled on the pounds so quickly….”
I’ll spare you the rest…you get the picture.
There is so much wrong with this narrative and it makes me really angry that it only takes a Google search to see hundreds more blog posts from trainers and coaches ready and waiting to pounce on women at a time that is so sacred and special.
Firstly, you’re supposed to gain weight – You are growing a human!
Second, at a time where our body changes very quickly and the floodgates open for people to comment freely, the thing that we shouldn’t be doing as fitness professionals is promoting further body insecurities in pregnant women by creating such damaging narrative.
The pressure from society to look a certain way is massive and, unfortunately this doesn’t go away when we’re pregnant. Many women feel uncomfortable in their bodies during pregnancy. Hormones, morning sickness (the list goes on) – can all equate to feeling estranged in the skin we’re in and a feeling of lost control.
This is why it makes me sick that people prey on these insecurities in order to sell. Using easy, fear based sales tactics to put profits before people shouldn’t be encouraged. We should be supporting each other to embrace these changes, encouraging safe, effective movement and not putting aesthetics before health. Every woman and pregnancy is different – by demonising weight gain and promoting a certain “look” in pregnancy, there’s a real risk of physical and mental harm.
If you’re pregnant and feeling the pressure, then I urge you to remind yourself – and others if you have to – that your body is doing an amazing thing. YOU are doing something incredible.
Exercising in pregnancy has a HUGE range of benefits that span far beyond “toning” so can we PLEASE stop with this reductionist, shallow approach?!