“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else - means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.” – E. E. Cummings

Why I Quit Tone It Up

Why I Quit Tone It Up

Spring has arrived, and you know what that means?  The weather is getting warmer and the diet industry is booming because it has us all convinced that we need to shed that winter weight and get our beach body back!  For a long time, I subscribed to this, but over time my mindset has changed and I’m here to tell you that yours can too.  Your body is perfect for the beach just the way it is! 

I was recently doing some spring cleaning and I came across my Tone It Up Bikini Series journals from a couple years ago.  For those of you who don’t know what Tone It Up (TIU) is, it’s an online fitness community that inspires women to live their healthiest life…apparently.  In the spring of 2016, I had been out of university for a year.  I had been getting really into fitness but felt like I was at a plateau, I needed inspiration and motivation.  That’s when I found TIU.  It was exactly what I was looking for, it was two women creating fun fitness videos that I could do at home with minimal equipment, they had a weekly schedule and their Bikini Series program was starting that week!  I signed up immediately and got the meal plan and the premium videos that went along with it.  I got up at 5am that Monday morning to do the first video and have a healthy breakfast…that’s where it all began. 

Every day I would track my food and daily work out.  It felt great to have a plan and even better when I started interacting with the community via Instagram!  Over the next two years I would spend a tonne of money on all of the TIU products, including flying to Chicago to go to the TIU Tour (more to come on that experience shortly), I would jump on board for each new seasonal program, take all the sweaty selfie and flex Friday pictures, post “inspirational” things on Instagram, participate in Sunday Run-day, and constantly feel like I was “getting back on track”.

While I was in it, it felt great.  However, when I found those journals, it made me really sad to read through them.  Here is what I wrote during the first week:

·       Monday: “Had a nice surprise on the scale this morning at 126.4 lbs! 😊 Dinner was so delicious but I still wasn’t full so I tried to choose a somewhat healthy snack.”

·       Tuesday: “Was upset that I slept in and didn’t get to run this morning, I’ll have to make up for it tomorrow.  Made good food choices today though, which I’m proud of.”

·       Wednesday: “Proud of myself for doing such a great workout this morning and feeding myself properly so the results will show!  Also, 3 days without a single chocolate chip!  That’s impressive 😉.”

·       Thursday: “Started off so well but disappointed in my dinner choice (especially since it’s only Day 4!).  Next time I go to a restaurant I’ll make a better choice.  But at least I didn’t have dessert even though I was craving.”

·       Friday: “Worked hard and ate well – great Canada Day! 😊”

·       Week 1 Recap: “Could’ve made healthier food choices but I give myself credit for turning down alcohol on Thursday and gelato on Sunday.  Wanted to keep my junk food count at 5 or below but 7 isn’t terrible.  Now I have something to try and beat next week!”

Wow, it pains me to type all of that out.  That was just the first week of an 8-week journal, and there were multiple journals that continued the same narrative.  These comments may come off as positive with all the smiles and talk about being proud, but as I read them now, all I see is obsession, restriction, shame, guilt, control; the complete opposite of how I want to live my life – intuitively and free.

The Turning Point:

I was so proud of myself for sticking with a program for over a year!  I had never been able to commit to anything for more than a couple months at best.  I claimed it was because the videos were fun and they kept creating new content and engaging with the community was the best!  In the fall of 2017, TIU went on tour.  I was so excited to be able to meet Karena and Katrina and spend a day surrounded by all the girls I follow on Instagram!  The day came and went and without getting into all of the details, I left feeling let down.  It was a fun day, but it really opened my eyes to the whole thing.  I didn’t matter in the community; I was just another person being sold to and a lot of the girls who seemed really friendly on Instagram really only cared about appearances.  Don’t get me wrong, I met a lot of wonderful people as well, but overall, I was pretty turned off by the whole thing.  I came home disappointed, but I am so glad I went because that was the turning point.

I continued following TIU programs for a few more months and jumped on board for the January 2018 challenge.  At the same time, I did the Yoga with Adriene 30 Day Yoga Journey called TRUE.  It was all about finding your true self, and that I did.  Through a committed yoga practice, I realized that I didn’t love pushing myself to lift weights and do burpees at 5am every morning.  I prefer more mindful movement that allows me to connect with myself.  I also realized that TIU wasn’t serving me anymore.  It made me feel obsessive and made me feel bad when I didn’t follow the meal plan or work out schedule perfectly.  The online content felt fake to me.  Eventually I worked up the courage to unfollow, literally.  I stopped doing the programs and I unfollowed TIU and a lot of people associated with it, except for the local girls that I have become friends with outside of TIU.  This was the best decision I ever made in the journey to repair my relationship with food and my body. 

No Regrets:

I honestly have no regrets about following TIU for as long as I did.  I loved it and needed it at the time.  It was part of my journey and I did get a lot of positive things out of it.  I learned about nutrition and it helped me realize that working out wouldn’t make me bulky or less feminine.  I became less of a picky eater and I found some amazing recipes that I continue to make to this day.  As I mentioned previously, I met so many amazing people I now get to call friends thanks to the TIU Instagram community!

Disclaimer:

I don’t want it to sounds like I’m villainizing TIU.  It’s not the only fitness and nutrition program out there; the diet industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry, profiting off all of our false beliefs and insecurities around weight and food.  It’s also not the only program I’ve ever done, I’ve tried many.  I just wanted to share my story with TIU because it was the most impactful along my journey and I know so many people can relate.

Something New:

If this type of program is still part of your journey, I’m not judging at all.  I’m merely trying to offer some perspective that is different from what society has been trying to convince us of for so long.  What if you stopped “getting back on track” with the same thing that keeps failing you (YOU are not the failure) time and time again, and instead, try something different?

·       Eat food that you enjoy. 

·       Love your body for all of the amazing things it does for you on a daily basis. 

·       Don’t let anyone tell you what is best for you, only you know what’s best. 

·       Listen to your body and let it guide you towards your own optimal health. 

·       Mental health is just as important as physical health, don’t sacrifice one in pursuit of the other.

·       Stop attaching morality with food and exercise.  You are not a bad person because you ate a cookie and didn’t go for a run before the crack of dawn this morning.  Likewise, eating a kale salad for lunch and hitting up a spin class on your way home from work doesn’t make you a good person.

Moral of the Story:

If there’s anything you take away from this, I hope it’s that there is life beyond counting calories, following plans, and trying to manipulate your body to fit into someone else’s standards.  I’m living proof of it.  If you don’t believe me, perhaps check out Dr. Jillian Murphy’s work either through the Food Freedom Body Love program or for free through her podcast!  This is completely unsponsored, I’m just learning so much from her and I want to share it all with you because if you’ve stuck around this far, I’m guessing you could use it. 

I don’t know about you, but I know that I have way more important things to do with my life than to spend all of my energy stressing about food and exercise and how I look in a bikini.  If you feel the same way, I encourage you to do the work to change your mindset.  It’s not easy, but I know it is worth it.  I want everyone to know what it feels like to be free from diet mentality and change our ways so we don’t pass it on to future generations.

Be well,

- Alyssa.

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