Friday, May 15, 2015

Lazy or differently motivated?:: My issue with a popular motivational image

I've seen several versions of this photo floating around on my social media recently. Over the past few weeks, it has popped up on my Facebook feed, Instagram feed, and on the "photos you may like" area on my Instagram.

I take issue with this sentiment. I get that it is meant to be used as a form of motivation; but I find it to be rude, exclusive, and generally wrong. To top it off, 5 out of the 6 photos I've seen (all have slightly different images with the same quote) have a little Crossfit logo on it somewhere. Just another reason why I don't think Crossfit is for me.

I've read up on it a fair bit, and think that it could potentially be an ok way of exercising- depending heavily on your physical ability. It has taken a lot of flack over the past year or two; some of it warranted, and some not. I've read horror stories about injuries that shouldn't have happened because the "trainer" didn't know what he/she was talking about and pushed an individual too far beyond their physical capabilities. No bueno. However, I do know that there is now a more rigorous educational program for Crossfit trainers and the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)- a leader in the personal training education/certification field- has added a Crossfit option to their program list. Great steps in the right direction. I totally agree that exercise programs that offer a sense of community foster a much higher success rate than comparable solo programs. And it can be a great way of making friends.  Also, I have a few exercise science friends (ranging from kinesiology majors all the way up to physical therapists with their PhD) who really enjoy Crossfit. I trust that if health/physiology/body-movement professionals are ok with it, then it must be safe.

So what's my beef?

Crossfit is still in it's fad stage, and seems to perpetuate the thought that "if you're not doing Crossfit, you're exercising wrong." I understand that this is not the mentality of every Crossfitter, and they have the right to be proud of their progress and share it with the world however they like. BUT making me feel bad or lazy because I'm not "dedicated" is a dangerous line to walk.

Yes, there are a lot of Crossfitters that are walking the line between dedication and obsession- and they don't even know it. Let's look at the clinical definition of obsession: "Compulsive preoccupation with an idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety; or a compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion." When it comes to health and weight management, obsession is absolutely something people need to be aware of.

I do agree that, yeah, sometimes people who are lazy or unmotivated will try to chip away at people who have the life/motivation they wish they had-- and maybe "obsessed" is one of the digs they use. In this case, calling someone out on being obsessed, may actually be calling a spade a spade.

Especially when it comes to health-related fads like diets, exercise routines, and supplements; we need to keep an eye out for obsessive behavior. Sometimes, calling someone obsessed is a way of trying to break them down, but sometimes it is pointing out an actual issue that needs to be dealt with.

Let's look at one of the implied messages behind these words: if you're not doing it this way, you must be lazy. Ok, so that might be a little dramatic. Especially with the versions of this photo with the Crossfit logo, it makes me feel like the person posting feels that just because I lack the obvious motivation that Crossfitters have tapped into, then I must be lazy. I understand that is not likely how it was meant to be interpreted, but that was the first though that came to mind the first time I saw the image and phrase together.

I can't do high intensity cardio or lift heavy weights. I know my body and know my limits pretty well. With a deviated septum and bursitis-riddled joints, Crossfit will likely never be a good choice for me. I just can't get enough oxygen to my muscles to do that Crossfitters do. It's the same reason I'll probably never be able to run a marathon or be a great swimmer. These factors don't make me lazy. Just because I'm not as motivated, or am motivated differently, and may express some concern with the weirdly long hours someone is putting in at the (any) gym-- doesn't mean that I'm lazy.

I feel like there must be a kinder, more accurate way of calling yourself motivated without (accidentally) calling someone else lazy. It just doesn't feel like a nice thing to say, ya know?

Motivation comes in a lot of forms, and I am not motivated to try Crossfit. If someone were to invite me to a free "bring a non-believer to Crossfit" day- I would LOVE to go and see what it's about- but I am not about to hunt it down and join a gym.

What experiences have you had with Crossfit?
What am I misunderstanding here? Is there any information about Crossfit that I have gotten wrong?

(Image source: here)

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