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  • Writer's pictureBrad Cunningham

10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Health and Fitness

As a fitness industry professional I get exposed to a lot of things within our unique industry.

The diversity that it is today is amazing, and there’s something for every body, which I love.

But there seems to be a trend or a ‘movement’. That has flooded our social media feeds, magazines and the like.

This affects women mostly but also men to a degree.

My concerns are the effects on young women, their self-esteem, self-image and self worth. Plus not to mention the added pressure to look and act a certain way.

The ‘Online Fitness Industry’ seems to have become quite saturated with unrealistic images of women with photo shopped physiques, implying unrealistic training and nutrition regimes.

Don’t get me wrong; there is plenty of great content, information and people out there promoting great stuff.

But something I think about often is how this will affect my daughter, and how she may perceive herself in this wonderful world.

1. Fitness is about you When you make a decision to exercise more, eat better and generally make healthier choices it should be about you. How you want to feel, look, and move for YOU. If you begin something because you want to look better at so n so’s party or Xmas dinner with the family, you hand your self image and the power to control how you feel about it, to other people, their comments and behaviours. Stay in control by only doing things because you want to, and for your own personal benefit.

2. Don’t beat yourself up If you miss a work out, slip up or maybe indulge in a piece of cake, don’t beat yourself up about it. Sure we know this isn’t the best thing for you and if you do it too often you will likely put on body fat, however we need to remember we are human and for many reasons, some indulgences are good for many things such as our mental health. Eating a piece of cake, and then having the mindset of “Oh shit I need to go and burn this off right now, and smashing yourself in the gym for 2 hours is not a healthy approach to food. It also creates this seesaw effect and ruins any ability to create self-control. You don’t want to reward yourself with food, but if the temptation is there, just weigh it up. Is it inline with your goals, what’s it really worth to you. Cost vs benefit.

3. Your are beautiful Your physical appearance, performance or even lack of, does not equate in anyway to you as a person. Almost goes without saying however often forgotten. What people tend to forget is that when you hit a particular number on the scales it does not automatically make you beautiful or make you feel beautiful anyway.

4. The Scales Mean Nothing For a physically active female, it’s possible and likely that you will weigh more on the scales. This is due to lean muscle that is developed from exercises which is a great thing, as the more lean muscle you have the more efficient your body metabolizes food into energy (more fat you burn at rest). So if you are someone who is attached to your scales, I suggest throwing them out, give the power & control back to yourself on how you want to feel.

5. Everybody is unique The human body is an amazing thing, and as we know everyone is very unique. So what may work for someone when it comes to nutrition and training doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the best thing for the next person. Yes many principles do apply and can work across a large number of people. But to compare yourself to another is unrealistic and could be harmful to your self-esteem. The key is to only compare yourself to you, what you have done in the past, as markers for potential in the future. Try to beat your last PB, time, distance or weight rather than some person on Instagram.

6.Do what you love If you enjoy lifting weights, running, doing yoga, playing sport or dancing, awesome! Keep doing it. Don’t change a thing just because someone else doesn’t like it, or makes comments. Enjoy it!

Exercise should be fun and should be done with people who lift you higher, if it’s none of these things and only brings you down, makes you feel inadequate, or worse, stop it! And try something else.

7. Appreciate other people and what their story may be If there was one thing I could make sure my daughter learns, it would be this... Appreciate that everyone is on their own journey, and has their own story. When someone makes a negative remark toward you, take a second and appreciate the fact that it probably has nothing to do with you. It could be a combination of their insecurities, past experiences and in their own eyes what they’re saying is true or correct or their perception of the world. Just because it may not be yours, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. The other thing is to never ridicule, judge or bring someone down, especially someone who is trying. i.e. a largely overweight person in the gym or out for a walk or run. For all you know they may have already lost 50kg’s or maybe they’re just starting. So never assume only support and encourage, as you would wish people would do for you.

8. Take responsibility If you are not where you want to be, don’t have the things you want, don’t look or feel the way you want, don’t blame it on anyone, and certainly don’t try and justify it. You are in your current situation (for better or for worse) because of all the choices you have made up until now. But the great thing is, you also have the power to achieve anything you want with the choices you now make. Justifying your decisions or your lack of results by saying things such as “I work too much, don’t have enough time, my kids etc etc” is just shifting responsibility from yourself. Sure many of these things are challenges, but you still have the ability to get what you want if you really want to.

9. Make health a priority If you are ever faced with a decision that in one hand seems fun, exciting, guaranteed short term results, easy, inexpensive, will make you instantly ‘cool or popular’ but on the other hand you need to sacrifice your health in anyway, never ever take the first option. Period. You want to make health a priority in your day-to-day life, move daily, incorporate it into the activities you do with friends and family. Avoid putting work and other commitments over your health for anything length of time as it will always come back to bite you. (You only get one body, look after it).

10. FOOD is Fuel Food should not be used as a reward, you are not a puppy. You are also not a trash can so don’t eat everything in sight. Food is fuel. And you should get your fuel from the most natural and nutritious sources you can. Then learn to eat until you are 80% full. There is no need to eat everything that is put in front of you. Take your time, remove your distractions, savor each mouthful and appreciate the time and effort that is put in for you to have your meal.

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