I am sure you have heard it all before, “Get beach ready”, “Summer bod season”, “Tank top arms” or “Washboard abs”. In some scenarios, this is well-intentioned to motivate clients to work towards a goal during the warmer months of the year. However this can actually cause more harm than good, really think about it.
You may or may not be familiar with the term diet culture, a quote from Good Housekeeping, explains it clearly.
“Diet culture has many definitions and facets but, in a nutshell, it’s a set of beliefs that worships thinness and equates it with health and moral virtue, according to an anti-diet dietitian, Christy Harrison, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.N., author of Anti-Diet and host of the Food Psych podcast.”
If you have been subjected to this (who hasn’t) then you are most likely conditioned to believe being thin and focusing on a diet equals a healthy lifestyle. As instructors, you can change the course of this ideal. Unfortunately with this line of thinking it can leave individuals partaking in some sort of diet, cleanse, fast, or food deprivation for a majority of their lives. Oftentimes they may be chasing the next best thing to improve their appearance without ever being truly happy in the skin they are in. Not only is this no way to live your life it can take a serious toll on your mental health as well.
With Memorial Day around the corner and many, so many of these slogans popping up everywhere you may want to ask yourself how can you encourage clients to be the best versions of themselves without focusing on what’s trending or their outward appearance?
Here are three tips you can start implementing in your classes, coaching, and programs with ease.
- Focus on what the body can do, not what it looks like. Like anything in life our behaviors are learned once we are aware of the changes, we want to make we can unlearn them over time. When coaching clients use cues that focus on the goal of strength vs how good they will look in a swimsuit this is a step in the right direction. A simple change in language can help rewire your client's purpose for physical fitness.
- Don’t punish or shame your students. Some coaches may use a certain approach that includes a bit of tough love. If you have a devoted following then clearly this works for you, however, it doesn’t mean you should be careless in how you speak to your students. You know your audience best but keep in mind making someone feel bad about themselves or comparing them to “hot bodies” is not truly setting them up for success inside out.
- Let’s give some credit where credit is due! Take a moment to give your students praise (big and small) for showing up for themselves, being present, and putting their health first. These acts of kindness go a long way in one's wellness journey, words are powerful.
So let’s put to bed terms that will encourage students to question their overall worth based on their appearance and trade it in for a supportive space that honors them for who they are on the inside.
Let the summer begin!