I’ve not been shy to talk about my journey of doing personal work and learning in the anti-racism and social justice space. It’s been awesome, and has, quite frankly, broadened my entire life experience – no exaggeration.
With all the increased understanding and perspective and compassion I’m gaining in that learning process, I can’t help but connect about a million dots between some of the broader points of supremacy culture and fitness and diet culture, how they’re inextricably linked. And more than that, I can’t help but see about a million opportunities for change across many areas.
Take, for instance, the framework that I’ve been studying – Critical Liberation Theory, and the path to being an effective liberation worker – developing a liberatory consciousness, as laid out by Dr. Barbara Love in the text, Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. There are four elements to this framework:
Makes a lot of sense, right? And certainly allows those folks who wish to work toward a more equitable society a way to do so without feeling totally hopeless. That’s the ultimate goal.
Funny enough, the Uncover, Unlearn, Unleash framework we utilize in Fitness Unraveled parallels this liberation framework. (Before it even comes up, I had not been studying the specific work toward developing a liberatory consciousness until after FU was created. Keep in mind most learning frameworks are similar to each other, with subtle tweaks and twists for content, teacher, and student.) It allows the folks who wish to work toward more freedom in their fitness and bodies a way to do so without feeling totally hopeless. That’s the ultimate goal.
It’s so great to have all these learning opportunities in front of us from a bunch of different sources. There’s absolutely something to be gleaned and put to use in our lives, no matter the specific starting point.
I mean, we’re standing in the midst of a hugely transformative moment. Everything is up for questioning and discussion. Everything is up for evolution, reinvention. Every single thing we’re confronted with right now, from how we want to spend our free moments, to where we’re comfortable going physically, to what kind of work we want to do, to who we want to represent us, to exactly what matters and what doesn’t – it’s all one big opportunity to think differently, but most importantly, to live differently.
And we can’t pass up these kinds of opportunities.
I get it – I essentially started this email talking about racism and big politics. It feels trite to then say it’s important to do individual work on fitness and body freedom at the same time. But really? Is that even a question?
Exactly how would you explain to me that our bodies (especially women’s bodies, queer bodies, fat bodies) are not political? Policed? Oppressed? And how would you tell me that race has nothing to do with the fitness industry or fat phobia or body image? Also, if we don’t do the work to liberate ourselves from these oppressive ideals and systems with awareness and intention, how can we liberate each other in this or any other way?
Turns out, none of these things can be separated.
None of them exist in a vacuum. And none of them ever did. We’ve just been conditioned for so long to believe certain things and behave in certain ways, it seems like there’s nothing else we can do. Like there’s no way to live differently. Like why even try?
Again, I’ll argue, a global pandemic and unprecedented social and economic challenges have done nothing but showcase even more of our ability to increase our awareness and understanding of things as they were and as they can be, to adapt, to change, and definitely, to create and take every unique opportunity that comes our way. Honestly? The status quo doesn’t have much of a place anymore, unless you really, really want it to.
But do you?
I dunno, I just don’t see you as that kind of person. So here’s the thing, and I’ve talked about it before and often: this work starts with you. And starting with figuring out fitness and body image is an incredibly powerful place to start living differently.
Ultimately, if you can free yourself here, you’ll have a lot more availability for liberation work elsewhere.
Lemme go back to how this all connects. I mentioned supremacy culture how it relates to fitness and diet culture. As you begin your process of awareness (exactly where we start in Fitness Unraveled), have you ever recognized how much influence these things have over how you feel about your own body, what you choose to do with it, and how you choose to treat it?
Any of this sound familiar in your life?
Perfectionism. (Making a mistake is confused with being a mistake. If I don’t do the whole thing, why do it at all.)
Sense of urgency. (We need to lose ten pounds now. Or before the wedding/event/post-partum.)
Quantity over quality. (Only measurable goals are worthwhile. The intangible isn’t valuable.)
Either/or thinking. (Simplifies incredibly complex situations, ie: you either love or hate your body.)
Progress is bigger/more. (Lift more weight, get faster, make more money.)
Right to comfort. (Bigger bodies, differently-abled bodies are wrong and unwelcome bodies.)
Objectivity. (Invalidating feelings and prizing linear thinking.)
One right way. (This workout is better than that workout. This diet is better than that diet.)
(Note: This is an incredible resource with more detail on the above.)
That last one is obviously the heart of what Fitness Unraveled is all about, meaning there is no one right way. There is only the way that works for you. That way is rooted in awareness and understanding of yourself, analyzing, and then tapping into what you discover in all your actions and accountability.
And that way, your right way, is likely outside the norm. I can often be hard to find and feel, because you have to pull up a whole bunch of those roots in order to do it. But wow, wouldn’t it be cool to uncover and unlearn that stuff? To unleash who you really are and live that way?
Like, wouldn’t it feel so great to move in a way that feels right for your body, instead of the way designed based on military studies of white male 150-pound bodies in the 1940s?
I wanna mic drop on that one so hard, but not yet.
Instead, I’ll repeat this: opportunity to live differently.
Uncover all this stuff. Unlearn what’s not serving you (or any of us) any longer. Unleash who you really are, who you want to be, how you want to live, what you want your new world to look like.
Make it happen in your own body, make it happen for all bodies.
P.S. I found it eerily, or perhaps impeccably, timed that yesterday’s full moon in Leo horoscope from Chani Nicholas noted this:
Patriarchy promotes either/or, white supremacy sells “us” and “them”, and capitalism hawks greed without consequence. The more we can refuse the creation of pedestals, the less time we will waste looking up. Then we can really do the work of holding each other accountable and reclaiming our projections of good and evil. The ground is where fertility lives. Community is where the answers are.
Refusing pedestals. Reclaiming. Holding each other. Grounding. Community. GAH! All of this is the heart of Fitness Unraveled. If any of it speaks to you, join the group and find your answers.