4 Ways Women Can Change the Narrative of Fitness

Learn how to stop the cycle of thinking you’re “less than” based on your critical inner dialogue and social media influences.
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Call me a fitness feminist, but the narrative surrounding fitness has to change — and fast! Now, more than ever, it’s apparent that there’s this ugly underbelly within the fitness community that must be addressed. We’re constantly receiving messages from outside influences and our own subconscious that we “aren’t enough yet.” The messages tell us, “You’ll finally be enough when you lose 10 pounds, buy this exercise equipment or look like this Instagrammer.” We’re told we need to buy or achieve more things in order to be happy. But sadly, so many people already don’t feel like they’re “enough,” and as they continue to chase their goals and dreams, they continue to feel that way because the ante is upped each time they reach a milestone.

Nikki Snow

Nikki Snow, Oxygen Challenge 6 coach.

I’d so much rather women embraced where they’re at right now. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having goals, but if your focus was shifted to doing things for yourself and empowering yourself to feel good in your own skin with where you’re at todayjust think about how that would change the narrative and shift the culture within fitness.

It’s one of the reasons I incorporate mindful goal setting and intention setting to my workout programs: to challenge the narrative about being good enough where you are right now. It’s not an easy topic for women, so I want to give my clients and our OC6 participants the opportunity to gain a different perspective — and a supportive place to talk about these topics in a like-minded community.

Additionally, I’ve recently started a new company called PHIT Society (Push Hard Inspire Together), and our entire initiative is based on creating a community of creativity, inclusivity, authenticity and all-around bad-assery. We even have a podcast where we talk to fitness leaders and experts who have the power to help facilitate and create change in this industry.

So what can you do to change the narrative in your own head? Start here:

  1. Reframe your thoughts with curiosity. The first thing we have to do is create more awareness. We must take the time to give ourselves space to think about the things we are telling ourselves. For instance, when you walk by the mirror, if you say, “I look fat,” then stop yourself and think about that thought for a moment. Process that thought in a way that encourages self-love and self-kindness. Picture yourself putting up a stop sign in your head and then asking yourself, “Is this thought the absolute truth?” Next, you’ll start conditioning yourself — even if it’s the hardest thing for you to believe — to replace that thought or change the words you use with yourself. Come at it from a place of curiosity by asking yourself, “Where is this actually coming from?” Are you surrounding yourself with toxic people? Are you comparing your body to other women’s bodies on social media? We all have those thoughts, so arm yourself with something more empowering that’s motivational for you. Find things that really empower you to change those thoughts.
  2. Rephrase your thoughts with if/then statements. Once you’ve begun reframing your thoughts, kick it up a level. Instead of walking by a mirror and saying, “I look fat today,” ask yourself, “What does my body actually do for me?” Create an if/then statement. For instance, “If I look in the mirror and feel like I look fat, then I reframe my thinking and remind myself that my body is powerful.” I can jump extremely high. And I love to dance and share my energy in a way that brings me joy. Now I’ve changed the narrative and made a positive spin on my negative thoughts.
  3. Clean up your social media network. There are outside influences that infiltrate our minds every day, and we may not even realize it. You have my permission to unfollow social media accounts that make you feel bad. There’s simply no need to put yourself in that situation. Instead, follow accounts that build you up. A while back, I realized my entire feed was filled with people wearing cropped tops and showing off abs. This is the messaging that I’m getting all the time. And Instagram keeps putting more of that in my feed because it thinks that’s what I want to see. So it’s been really liberating to unfollow some of those accounts. Then I took it a step further by finding different stuff I’m passionate about, outside of fitness, to follow. So here’s your own test: If you look on social media and everybody looks like you, I’m sorry to say it, but you’re part of the problem. Even if it feels odd for you, go follow different body types. Go follow people with different views than your own. Open yourself up to different thoughts and opinions out of a place of curiosity.
  4. Reimagine your inner circle. Another important step toward disengaging from situations that trigger you is examining your closest friends and family. Sadly, the people you hang out with may not be supportive of your fitness journey because they have their own narrative to deal with and their own demons to battle. My advice? Surround yourself with people who will support you. If you don’t have any in your life, then find them through different groups on social media, in group fitness class or at the gym. Build relationships with others who are trying to improve their lives. Create a community versus comparisons. When you reach out and chat with all different types of people, it will change the narrative of what you tell yourself in your head.

Now in its sixth year, The Oxygen Challenge has helped thousands of participants around the world transform their bodies and their lives. This summer, we are bringing you two fitness experts focused on strength, empowerment and the mind-body connection: Jen Esquer, doctor of physical therapy and mobility expert, and Nikki Snow, international trainer and professional coach.

So what are you waiting for? Start transforming your life and body today with their 90-day training and nutrition program designed exclusively for Oxygen — it’s guaranteed to awaken your inner athlete, buoy your spirit and empower your life! Join the Challenge today.