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Is Toxic Gym Culture Stalling Your Progress?

Whether you’re a consistent gym-goer or just try to fit in a sweat session every now and then, you’ve probably faced the wrath of the toxic gym relationship. Here’s how to spot the red flags.

A woman doing a sit up
Photo: Unsplash

If you find yourself often struggling with negative feelings or thoughts in terms of your physical health and progress in the gym, you may have formed an unhealthy idea of what your fitness journey should be. This can lead to harmful body image issues, overworking your body, disrespecting your limits, and so much more.

On popular social platforms like TikTok and Instagram, many people share their fitness journeys offering advice, tips, and instructions on how to achieve the fitness goals you might have. The problem with this is that you are not them and they are not you. Everyone has different body types and methods that work for them; it’s an entirely personal process. These fitness influencers often seem like they have it all together, but they’re neglecting to reveal the completely normal aspects of a fitness journey, such as burnouts, struggles with finding the right diet plan for your needs, body dysmorphia, plateaus, and so much more.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing yourself and your journey to that of others can rob you of enjoying a process which can be an extremely fulfilling—one where you feel yourself growing stronger every day, both physically and mentally.

Block Accounts That Make You Feel Shitty

What you consume affects your actions and overall mental state. Try to steer clear of any accounts that cause you to feel negatively about yourself, especially in terms of your physical appearance.

Try intuitive eating

Counting cals and macros can sometimes feel like a never-ending cycle of disappointment and failure. Not getting all your protein in or freaking out over those 30 more grams of carbs you ate because you were craving fries can make eating feel like a chore. Restrictive eating has the possibility to trigger binge eating, which can mentally and physically cause you to feel even worse. Forget the diet culture and give yourself permission to eat! Listen to your hunger and cravings and respect them.

Find a Form of Exercise That Feels Good

Understanding what works for your body is key. You want to actively do what feels right. So, don’t force yourself to lift an insane amount of weight or run on a treadmill for hours because you think that’s what’s going to make you “look better.” If you aren’t listening to your body, you might be doing more harm than good. There are so many forms of exercise such as yoga, pilates, or CrossFit that might even feel better for you!

Reevaluate Your Goals

It’s true; many people work out because they have goals, whether that be gaining strength, muscle, or simply wanting to feel good. But does growing a huge butt really matter to you, or does that famous fitness guru make it seem like a necessity? It’s hard to get caught up in what society thinks we should look like, but if it’s not true to you, then what’s the point of it at all. Reassessing your current goals can help align YOUR priorities in the gym, making the workouts more enjoyable and chasing a certain look less important.

The outline of a woman running during sunrise
Photo: Unsplash


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