I saw a meme-style chart for a women’s “3 Month Workout Plan for Six Pack Abs” in my Facebook News Feed. One of my gaming people posted that she was getting started with it. I can’t tell the woman’s age but she’s definitely forties or older. The “plan” calls for 100 Jumping Jacks, 100 Crunches, 100 “High Knees” (running in place, bringing your knees up high), and various combinations of leg lifts, lunges, and squats at 40 and 50 reps each. Do all this six days a week. I checked the website the chart was from. Never mind that it does not provide any instructions how to do these exercises but there are black and white photos of totally ripped and oiled up women. Wearing hand wraps. Which indicates they’re athletic, of course.
Is this woman being realistic about her weight loss expectations and her physical ability? I’d be interested to know if she will make it through this “workout” even once much less six days a week for the next three months. A friend once showed me the “Insanity” workout package she’d bought—and didn’t get through even once. It involves a LOT of very intense jumping around. The advertising for it is aggressively hard-sell and features several quite healthy-looking YOUNG people all rhythmically bouncing up and down in perfect form. Of course they’re having a great time and they love it!! They’re burning like a THOUSAND CALORIES in an HOUR!
A big part of why we struggle with weight is because we fail in our weight loss attempts, over and over. We fail because we expect far too much. We set ourselves up for failure. And we do that because we believe what we’re told about what we’re supposed to be able to do. We’ve bought into the whole motivation and inspiration trap. We watch “Biggest Loser” and we think we should attempt to push ourselves until we pass out or throw up. I became a trainer in part because it’s become the thing now for trainers to act like drill sergeants and beat up on clients.
We take all this failure on to ourselves. We assign ourselves all the shame and blame. We let advertising and marketing and our biased culture tell us what we’re supposed to be capable of. Then we magnify our very human flaws in an effort to “explain” our failure. We’re broken, we’re weak-willed, we don’t want it bad enough.
Have you done that to yourself? Have you put yourself on some severe diet or extreme exercise program and then decided you were a failure when you couldn’t maintain it? I checked back to that woman’s post and all the responses are cheering her on. At this point, I doubt if she would even admit if she’s not able to do 100 of anything.
We aren’t lowering our expectations when we’re simply realistic about them. We release the shame and blame when we take a true and objective look at ourselves and accept what our honest limits are and work within them. It does not matter what “works” for someone else. It will only ever matter what will work for you.