Fitness Friday: “I have no fitness. I’ve gained 30lbs and need to lose weight”
I’m a physical therapist and personal trainer. Once people find out what I do, I often hear something like the above.
If fixation on weight loss is what makes a personal trainer, then I’m a terrible one. Your weight loss goals are of little interest to me. I can help you with them, certainly. But I don’t find them worthy of a primary goal. There are 59 types of obesity (ex https://www.self.com/story/different-types-of-obesity) and over 25 genes that contribute to obesity, making long-term weight loss challenging for some people. Further, the CDC has acknowledged that pushing weight loss is a form of harm by movement professionals. So I don’t push weight loss (and I am not alone; even platforms like pinterest are pushing against the emphasis on weight loss https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pinterest-bans-weight-loss-diet-ads/) .
And I should note that the statement above connects body size with fitness. These are not necessarily causal or related concepts. Physical fitness doesn’t have a look (thin bodies might not be fit whereas some of our top athletes worldwide are larger bodied).
Honestly, I think all bodies are incredible. I’m not talking beauty or f*ckability (the cultural hyper-focus on looks as worth is gross and the reclaiming/redefining of beauty is part of dismantling colonial/racist/ageist/sizeist beauty standards). I’m talking the specific gift of embodiment that you bear in this moment. Life is short, and self-imposed and culturally-imposed limitations keep you from the full experience of this #SkinSuit
As a physical therapist, a personal trainer, CHEK practitioner, and yoga instructor, I specialize in post-rehab, community-level fitness and wellness. I get people moving safely, or keep them moving, with their injury/pain history, chronic disease, and/or disability. For example: Have a history of lingering ankle pain after a surgery 7 years ago (or back pain or hip pain) and want to return to exercise but in such a way that you don’t make the pain worse? I can help. These were actual clients, and side benefit, I got rid of their pain by adjusting posture and training proper form for functional exercise. Have MS or a history of stroke and want to learn how to do adaptive yoga? Also my thing (and actual clients). Never been a fan of exercise but want to find ways to incorporate it to align with your lifestyle? – Yep I can help here too (via motivational interviewing). Have a chronic disease that exercise might help manage? – Another favorite of mine. Other goals I have heard: having the energy and strength to play with grandchildren, run or walk a first 5k, fine tune form and execution of exercise to improve performance for a sport or hobby. None of these have anything to do with weight loss.
What if you gain the weight back? Can you learn to love or at least feel neutral about the body you have? What other goals are important to you?
There are so many reasons to move that don’t involve weight, including bringing joy, adding meaning, feeling strong/accomplished/powerful, improving form, aiding sleep, controlling pain, reducing cancer risk, easing stress, and improving cardiovascular health. And these other reasons, well beyond mere weight loss, might be more salient to promote long term physical activity.
Wishing you all a happy and movement-filled Friday.
The above content is written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT), RYT500, sexuality counselor and educator (in supervision); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. The picture is from Pexels.
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*Please note that none of the above information is specific medical advice, but is meant as educational information only. If you have concerns about your health, please contact a trusted healthcare professional*