Transcript of the No-Bullsh!t Vegan podcast, episode 111
Truly F*cked Up Parts of the Fitness Industry part II with Zoe Peled
Karina Inkster: You're listening to the No Bullshit Vegan podcast episode 111. As promised this is installment number two of our fucked up parts of the fitness industry series. My coach colleague, Zoe Peled, joins me to drop some mics and bust some BS.
Hey, thanks for tuning in today. I'm Karina, your go-to, no BS, vegan fitness and nutrition coach. If you haven't already checked out or shared our awesome collection of free vegan resources, go to karinainkster.com/veganresources for nine of our best guides and in-depth articles. You can use our vegan protein calculator to find out how much protein you need every day, download our vegan-specific portion guide, read our articles on being vegan in a non-vegan household, eating at restaurants, and much more. Get access to all this at karinainkster.com/veganresources.
I'm welcoming back to the show my partner in coaching, Zoe Peled. She's a fitness coach with our K.I team and has a particular affinity for kettlebells, strength training, and calling out industry BS on the regular, especially if it's about food or what bodies “should” look like. She's currently training for her first triathlon and a thousand-plus-mile bicycle ride. Zoe does additional work in marketing and community engagement leading several local activism ventures, including Ban Fur Farms BC, and founded the Vancouver Vegan Resource Centre in the fall of 2018. Zoe has been vegan for almost 12 years and an animal rights activist for almost the same duration of time. Hey Zoe, welcome back to the show. Nice to have you here again.
Zoe Peled: Lovely to be here again, to co-drop a bunch of mics with you.
Karina Inkster: Co-drop a bunch of mics and co-bust a bunch of bullshit, right? Is that how it works?
Zoe Peled: I don't know if the term, “co-drop mics” actually existed before today, but we just made it a thing.
Karina Inkster: It's a thing now.
Zoe Peled: It's a thing.
Karina Inkster: Yeah, love it. So the last episode of our, “What’s Fucked Up in the Fitness Industry,” was about progress photos, was about the scale. It was about the concept of progress being linear, which is complete bullshit. And we also talked about the whole, “blank is the new blank,” kind of thing. So building on some of that, we for our listeners have some new points of fucked up’ed-ness in the fitness industry.
Zoe Peled: Oh yes we do!
Karina Inkster: And you're taking the lead on what you found here, and we're going to use what you found as kind of an example for what happens a lot in the fitness industry. So yeah, we're highlighting one specific marketing campaign that you came across, but we are generalizing it as well in our discussion to the fitness industry as a whole. It's not this one thing that we're just going to focus on. So, can you tell us about this campaign, what you found, and how fucked up it is?
Zoe Peled: Yes, yes I can. So I first and foremost need to give credit to one of my colleagues and former classmates, Emily, because Emily was the one who actually shared this graphic. And Emily is very much aligned with us in how she kind of perceives the industry and hopes to call it out and hopes to change it as someone who is also a fitness coach.
Karina Inkster: Love that. Was Emily involved in the article that we were working on for Alive Magazine?
Zoe Peled: Yes. Yes, same Emily.
Karina Inkster: Aha! Okay. Right. So a few of our past episodes were interviews with Ren and Chrissy for this article and Emily was also involved in the same project. So I thought it was her.
Zoe Peled: Yes. Same Emily. There were two Emilys in my class, interestingly, but same one.
Karina Inkster: Oh, okay. Gotcha.
Zoe Peled: So the visual that Emily posted was an illustration of four different faces and then the headline under the faces said, “Weight loss, according to your nose type."
Karina Inkster: Okay.
Zoe Peled: Okay. So obviously some very problematic things come to mind with that statement. The foremost one being weight loss literally has nothing to do with your nose type. However, getting further into it I was inspired to look at the company who was behind this particular marketing line. So then I am introduced to a company called Beyond Body and upon very thorough investigation of the website, Beyond Body has become famous for making these custom books through their website. And the custom book is built around 30 standard questions. So everyone fills out the answers to these questions. And basically Beyond Body says, we're going to email you a book and it is going to be your perfect tool to achieve weight loss success. The first question on the Beyond Body website is to select your gender and they only provide two options, male or female. So right off the bat, that is very exclusionary to many folks.
Karina Inkster: Absolutely.
Zoe Peled: The second question is featured alongside some drawings of the body from head to toe, and then the website prompts the user to quote, “select their problem areas.” And these are labeled and then there are arrows pointing to them. So we have things like double chin, saggy breasts, flabby arms, thick buttocks, belly fat, thick thighs, and thick legs.
Karina Inkster: Wow. And you're supposed to label these on a little diagram presumably?
Zoe Peled: And you're supposed to label them on a little diagram. So I will not list out all 30 questions, but I will also add that at another point on the website, they ask you, if you could compare yourself to any celebrity as body type, such as quote, “Kim Kardashian, if you have too much unwanted weight on your hips and thighs,”
Karina Inkster: Ouch!
Zoe Peled: And basically at the end of this, you get sent a book, an e-book, and this book promises that any weight loss goals you have it will deliver, it will deliver them successfully, and it will deliver them in a healthy and safe way.
Karina Inkster: Mmhmm. Interesting. Interesting. So you fill out this 30 question quiz, you label your so-called problem areas, and you're given a custom book that helps you lose whatever weight you want to lose quickly, presumably.
Zoe Peled: Exactly. And we could make a list of about 50 things minimum that are very problematic about this. One of the first things that flags for me is the fact that out of those 30 questions there is - pardon me - there are two which ask about health considerations and medical factors. Whereas we know that when we're talking about any shifts in body composition and building a plan and a strategy for that, those histories are very relevant and need to be explored.
Karina Inkster: Definitely.
Zoe Peled: And discussed thoroughly.
Karina Inkster: Yes. Well look, the whole nose shape thing, I mean, everyone knows that that’s bullshit. That does not need to be debunked, but I feel like the whole concept of, you know, “customized,” and I'm using air quotes here, “weight loss advice,” whatever you want to call it, program, literally just by taking a 30 question quiz, I mean, that's problematic right there. There's problematic messaging around problem areas. Like, we don't use those terms and look, we can agree, I think, that folks have the right to want to change things about their aesthetics, about their physiques.
Zoe Peled: Yes. A hundred percent.
Karina Inkster: That’s totally fine, but that's not exclusive to, or like there's this kind of idea that it's mutually exclusive, right? Like you either hate yourself and you hate how you look or you love everything about yourself and you accept how you are this second, right? I think you can accept where you're at right now and want to change things about yourself without hating yourself, by the way, at the exact same time. And so using language like problem areas.
Zoe Peled: Exactly.
Karina Inkster: That is very, that's bad news in the fitness industry.
Zoe Peled: It’s very bad news. And it's also, it's assuming, and that's purely based on that list of quote-unquote “problem areas” that they included in the diagram. It's also assuming that all human beings will define those things as problem areas.
Karina Inkster: Right!
Zoe Peled: Which may not be the case. So as we talked about when we were, you know, pre-briefing for the episode, the last one really irked me quite a bit and the last one is thick thighs and legs. And I infamously stated when we started working together that one of my superpowers were my thighs.
Karina Inkster: Yes!
Zoe Peled: Because they're thick and they're very strong. And they're the reason that I can do a lot of the strength training and other types of training that I do. So you may have people entering this website who in theory have thick legs and feel great about them. And then the minute they see that part of their body labeled as problematic, that's going to shift their entire perception of a part of their body, which previously they posed no issue with.
Karina Inkster: So true. So true. So what if you have someone who is generally accepting of where they're at now, which I think is very underrated, honestly, with all this like self-improvement and all the messaging we get in the fitness industry about problem areas and bullshit like that. You know, so it's actually quite rare, unfortunately, to have someone who is cool with where they're at and also wanting to change things. But what if you have someone who is generally accepting of their current situation, but also has some physique goals based on maybe strength training, maybe cardio, you know, goals around how they want to look physically - how would you label these things? Or how would you ask them about things they want to work on without saying hey dude, what are your problem areas?
Zoe Peled: My favourite way to phrase questions around that are, I kind of hesitate a little bit to use the word goals. And I acknowledge there will be some variance from trainer to trainer and coach to coach. And the only reason I hesitate to use the word goals is because there is kind of an automatic assumption that if you don't achieve that it's tied to failure.
Karina Inkster: Right! That’s a really good point.
Zoe Peled: And that's not the case. It's much more complex than that. So with something like training and exercise and movement, or be it with something like nutrition, one of my favourite ways to phrase it is what are your areas of focus? What would you like to do more of? And when it's phrased like that, it's not necessarily labeling an issue or assuming that there is an issue or a problem. It's just saying hey, is there something you want to do more of or focus on more that you haven't been before? And it's approaching it from a neutral perspective, as opposed to leading…
Karina Inkster: I was just going to say the word neutral. You beat me to it!
Zoe Peled: Neutral! As if you know, as opposed to having this constant dichotomy of X is bad. X is good.
Karina Inkster: Exactly. Which goes into food a lot too, by the way.
Zoe Peled: We do! Tons!
Karina Inkster: That’s a whole podcast episode. But yes, I think putting it into neutral terms where whoever you're speaking with, in our case is often clients -
Zoe Peled: Yes!
Karina Inkster: - can bring up their own priorities without influence from a coach saying, this is good. This is bad. This is problematic. This is better. I think that's a really awesome way of putting it.
Zoe Peled: And I think tied to this is the fact that when we ask those questions, we also have an opportunity to perhaps reframe the answer a little bit in the sense that, we know this very well, that when we have conversations like this and we try to debunk these myths, that's a huge process. And it's not something that happens overnight. And we're all navigating within a system where we're inundated with this problematic messaging. That goes for all of us.
So I think the opportunity for a reframe comes when a client may hypothetically respond with something like well, I have like a fat stomach or I have a really fat belly. And I really hate that. I think the reframe there is, okay, you would like to focus on perhaps exploring and building more core strength. Because it's not responding with, well we're going to blast your fat. And you're not agreeing with them because we shouldn't be demonizing fat automatically in any capacity, but it's giving them an opportunity to kind of reflect on how they've worded it and also acknowledge a lot of the time, the way they've worded it is a product of all of that rhetoric that we're surrounded by.
Karina Inkster: Oh, a hundred percent. Yes, absolutely. And even after being in this industry for 10 years, I still find it really challenging to talk about these things. Because, you know, if you look at it physiologically, yeah you have fat loss. You gotta call it what it is. Fat loss is fat loss, right? You don't want to lose muscle along with your fat. You want to focus mostly on fat loss, but using some of these terms feels kind of loaded sometimes because we have all these ideas about what it means to be fat. And there's kind of assumptions that go along with this. And so I still find it challenging to talk about some of these things when clients come in with certain aesthetic goals, which everyone can have. Like we're Human.
Zoe Peled: Everyone. Of course.
Karina Inkster: We want to feel comfortable in our own skin so we want to look awesome. We all have our own kind of like quote, “ideal," you know, physicality's for ourselves. That's fine. But I feel like there's a more effective and conducive to mental health way of going about that and a less effective and less conducive to mental health way of going about that. And so yeah, so talking about like, oh I hate my stomach. I want to get it flat because I hate how it looks now. That's one way. The other way is hey let's focus on core strength, like you just said. Let's focus on leaning out a little bit. Maybe we're going to be in a calorie deficit. So we're kind of, we're talking about the inputs, which we talk about all the time on the podcast. Inputs versus outputs, right?
We're talking about working your core, maybe doing some extra cardio that's kind of new to you, finding an activity that you like doing, looking at your nutrition. These are all things that you have direct control over, and we're not saying, oh yeah, well let's immediately go and, you know, blast five pounds off your belly because first of all, that's not how it works. And second of all, we are then agreeing with the concept that that is inherently a bad state to be in.
Zoe Peled: Exactly, exactly. And there's also, and I know we've talked about this before, but I think it's important to re-impress every single time we have a discussion related to this in any capacity, is collectively within the industry and outside of it, we also need to work away from the not true assumption that larger bodies are inherently unhealthy and smaller bodies are inherently healthy. So there is a, I would say, still a societal and an industry assumption that larger bodies are unhealthy. Therefore they need to be doing X volume of work and they need to be shifting towards this body ideal, but smaller bodies don't have to be.
Karina Inkster: Oh, a hundred percent. This is honestly, this right here is its own podcast episode. And, you know, I am noticing more of a trend now where large-scale companies like Lululemon for example, are using models with all sorts of different body types finally. Like this is very new and it should have been happening all along.
Zoe Peled: Took a hot minute, but it’s here.
Karina Inkster: It did. Yeah. So you know, I am noticing that there are things that are changing, but yes, absolutely. Especially when it comes to the messaging around why you should be working out or why you should be quote, “dieting,” it's all about being smaller. And that's just not accurate. If the messaging is around being your healthiest weight or, you know, like there's no such thing.
Zoe Peled: Exactly. And I'm having rather a deja-vu moment because I think we've talked about this particular point before. However, I don't recall if it was on a past podcast or in our day-to-day passionate discussions with one other.
Karina Inkster: Probably both honestly.
Zoe Peled: And I mean, tied to this, it is also the assumption, the assumptions rather, that can come from some trainers and some fitness coaches, unfortunately, that a new client coming to them who may hypothetically be a larger human in a larger body will always want to lose weight.
Karina Inkster: Mm yes. Good point. That is a really important one. Where we as the coaches, and I'm using we as in like general coaches in the world, not me and you, although it could be us too. I mean, you know, we acknowledged that we have inherent biases, at least I do.
Zoe Peled: We all do. Yep.
Karina Inkster: We all do. Yeah. That’s actually a really important point where the ideas that the coach has about why someone should be in the gym, or why someone should be on a nutrition plan, may not actually line up with why that person came in in the first place.
Zoe Peled: Exactly. And obviously, within that, my hope is that you know, those misunderstandings are avoided because hypothetically, you know, someone onboarding a new client, they should have that process set up in a way where they have the opportunity to speak with that client.
Karina Inkster: Yes!
Zoe Peled: And you know, be very clear on what that individual's areas of focus are. But it's still there. And that's the thing that needs to be addressed and be combatted, essentially.
Karina Inkster: Yes. This is why I like our onboarding process so well, or so much I should say, because there's an application first where a client can say whatever the hell they want. You know, we have some pointed questions to get to know them better, but it's all them just putting in what's important to them, what they want to work on. Then we have an audition call where we get to know them and we ask more about these things. Then they have a kickoff call where we actually talk about the program and the workouts and the nutrition. So it's the third touchpoint where we talk about workouts and nutrition. And you know everything up until then is getting to know their motivations, their values, why it's important to them to do what they want to do with us as coaches. And that sets the tone for at least three months. Cause they have to work with us for three months, but usually longer. I think it's super important.
Zoe Peled: Usually longer. And I think it goes both ways. I think that a coach and or/a trainer needs to recognize that there is not one of us in the industry who can support every single individual who will come our way because it just won't be feasible. Because not everyone will be attracted to the same components of a coach. This group will not want the same things that this group wants. So I think that process is very integral, not only for the client, but also for the coach to acknowledge that perhaps this is not the best environment for them to be in if they don't maybe align with some of the things that we're all about. And then be able to say hey, I would like to refer you to person X.
Karina Inkster: Exactly. And that's happened before. I mean, I've told you a bunch of times about folks who come through our funnel and you know. Like one guy who went through our entire application process without realizing, or without caring, evidently, that we were vegan coaches. And this dude had no interest in plant-based eating whatsoever, was like carnivore at heart. I'm like, yeah. We're not going to be a good fit. Also, how did you get so far into this without knowing that?
Zoe Peled: Into the website! Haha, yeah.
Karina Inkster: Anyway, yeah. And you know, folks who, for example, want to train for physique competitions, because that's becoming more and more popular, we have made a decision not to train folks for those things for many reasons, which we've talked about before. If that's a case where we would say hey, we know coaches who specifically train clients for these things.
Zoe Peled: Yeah.
Karina Inkster: It’s a better fit. Here you go. I have a point though that I have been kind of thinking about for a while.
Zoe Peled: Go.
Karina Inkster: And this goes along with the there's no one body size that's considered healthiest, weight loss shouldn't always be the inherent goal, you know, making yourself smaller. So here's the thing I'm just going to talk for myself here. I have always inhabited a body shape that is small. Like my whole family is lean naturally. I had to work for eight years to gain 10 pounds of muscle. Like it's kind of ridiculous. So this means on the outside for people who don't know me, I kind of fit the stereotype of lean coach slash trainer. How can I, who just happens to have this body type, be better at or more supportive of, fitness at all shapes?
Zoe Peled: I think that's a fantastic question.
Karina Inkster: I mean, I'm kind of putting you on the spot here. I don't know if you have any answers, but it has been something that I've been thinking about because like, look, we're trying to be inclusive as a business, as humans. Diversity and inclusion is super important to us. We're both white presenting female folks in a westernized society. That doesn't mean that we can't be accepting and you know, can't have diversity and inclusion as important values in our business, but how do we do the same thing for body size? I think there are lots of kind of like smaller-scale things like, you know, in our content that we put out blog articles, posts, et cetera, having a variety of different folks shown.
Zoe Peled: Yep. Yep.
Karina Inkster: Same thing with our exercises in Trainerize, which is the software that we use to train clients. We have all sorts of different folks in the videos demonstrating how to do the exercises. And so this is what's kind of forward-facing for the client when they download their workouts. But I don't know, it just kind of feels like those are small, like not really impactful things. I don't know.
Zoe Peled: I mean two things come to mind immediately for me. And this is not to say that there are not more answers because there definitely are. Number one as you just alluded to is representation and being aware of diverse and inclusive representation. So that includes in platforms that you're using, it includes in your marketing. So what you're posting on social media, what you are reposting on social media, and looking at who you're amplifying. Is there a trend, you know, only showing one particular type of account? And the second piece I think is listening and never trying to be an individual who assumes that you can speak on behalf of someone and their lived experiences in a different type of body.
Karina Inkster: Mmm. That’s good.
Zoe Peled: And assume, rather know, that you cannot speak on their behalf. Look for opportunities to welcome those voices, for those voices to ask questions and give feedback and not to make assumptions about what that feedback may be, or, you know, try and steer it in a different direction.
Karina Inkster: I love that! The exact same can be applied to any points where we want to be more inclusive.
Zoe Peled: Yes.
Karina Inkster: And celebrate more diversity. I think the listening piece especially is very important. That's a great point.
Zoe Peled: And something I'm hyper-aware of is overuse or hyper use of using a statement with our clients such as I know what you're going through, or I understand what you're experiencing right now. Because in some situations, perhaps there is some common ground, depending on what we're talking about. But in other situations, especially when we're talking about lived experiences and different bodies, I do not know everything that you are going through nor can I relate to it. And vice versa because we are humans existing in different bodies.
Karina Inkster: That's a really good point. Yes. That said though, you know, like we've had clients who are surprised or who are a little taken aback by the fact that I have never had a major weight loss journey. Because I mean, again, this feeds into the whole concept of the only reason you're doing fitness is for weight loss, which we already talked about. But the point is, you know, sometimes there's a little bit of, oh, but you haven't experienced this yourself. So does that mean you really get it? And I feel like in a lot of cases, yeah, you probably have to have experienced it in order to teach someone else.
Like if you're teaching someone how to build a business, you better have a business, but why is it different in coaching? You know, I've never had a major weight loss journey, but we help folks with that all the time. Of course, we help them with many other things that are more in line with what I'm doing, like endurance, strength training, doing pull-ups or chin-ups for the first time ever, et cetera. But yeah. How can we as coaches be effective - because we know we are, we've been doing this for years - when it's not something we've actually experienced ourselves?
Zoe Peled: I think the key to that and I think be it in regards to this subject or other subjects and dialogues that we're having with our clients, is to always be, and I believe this is one of our strengths, is to always be approaching it on an individual case by case basis. So not to frame ourselves in a position of this is what a weight loss journey looks like for every single person across the board or vice versa. This is not what a weight gain journey looks like for every person across the board. And focus in on the many, many, many factors that go into that and focus on what that individual person is experiencing as opposed to regarding it as person gaining weight or person losing weight.
Karina Inkster: What you just said about the inputs again, which is, as you can tell a major theme in our coaching, we're experts at helping folks create consistent inputs that are in line with their goals. Now their goal could be muscle gain, which we both have experienced with ourselves, or it could be fat loss, or it could be a certain strength feat, or it could be an endurance event that they want to do. The similarity here is they all have consistent inputs within a certain range of, you know, training times a week and number of strength workouts, and number of cardio workouts, et cetera. I think that is the underlying similarity here is we are folks who happen to have lived these so-called inputs for years and years. We're also helping other folks create them for themselves. But the output is going to look different for every each person. I think I just figured it out.
Zoe Peled: I think you just answered it right there. There we go.
Karina Inkster: I may have. All right, moving on then. Okay so, you Zoe have five marketing messages that are constantly thrown at us in the lead up to holiday season. And there are so many bullshit messages. Oh my God. So we're recording this right after Halloween, but it's coming out later in December just cause we have a kind of stockpile of awesome interviews we have to publish first.
Zoe Peled: Tons! Yes.
Karina Inkster: Yeah. So it's kind of good timing because we just came out of Halloween. Now it's November lead up to the holidays. It's going to be December when this episode comes out. So what do you got for us?
Zoe Peled: Okay. So these points, let's kind of reframe them and say they could be valid for lead up to the holidays. Also after, and then all of that marketing buzz that we hear around lead up to New Year's Eve and about how, you know, you can set up a whole new game plan for yourself to right all of your food and exercise wrongs on January 1st. Bless! So in no particular order, and this is something that we have spoken about before, but it often comes up around the holidays, is you will not fall off the wagon because there is no wagon to fall off of.
Karina Inkster: Oh, didn't one of our clients - I'm not going to name names, but I know exactly who it is - didn't one of our clients just say, there is no wagon? This is, or this is all the wagon.
Zoe Peled: It's all the wagon!
Karina Inkster: Like it's all the wagon. You can't fall off of it.
Zoe Peled: It’s all the wagon. And just because things might look a little bit differently over the holidays, be it a different frequency of training or be it maybe different foods that you are eating, that is not a fall off. It is a shift in habits and patterns at a different time of the year.
Karina Inkster: Hmm. Yes.
Zoe Peled: That’s it.
Karina Inkster: So as part of this messaging, you've “fallen off," and I'm using quotes here, the proverbial bandwagon, training wagon, nutrition wagon, because you're eating more treats than you normally do?
Zoe Peled: Precisely.
Karina Inkster: Because you might be working out less than usual, because you have family gatherings and et cetera.
Zoe Peled: Yes.
Karina Inkster: And then presumably the messaging around that is, oh hey, we have a 30 day bootcamp challenge you can do. And you can lose the weight you gained over the past two months and blah, blah, blah. So of course there's a product involved.
Zoe Peled: Of course, of course. And that actually segues beautiful to point number two, which is that you do not need to repent.
Karina Inkster: Hmm. I like that.
Zoe Peled: And what you just outlined is a perfect example of the ways the industry will create this dialogue around the fact that because of these certain behaviours, the only way to save yourself will be to invest in their, you know, 30 day lose 30 pounds offer.
Karina Inkster: Yes. Well, you know, I was going to mention this earlier, too, I forgot though, about it when you were talking about the problematic marketing campaign with the supposedly customized books that people get - you got to take that with a giant grain of salt. If the outcome is hey, buy this book, if there's an inherent money grab, which then made me think, well, okay, so this is what we do for a living too. So, you know, we want to make sure that folks are magnifying glassing, if that's a verb now, what we're seeing as well. Because you know, that's also something I think about sometimes is yeah, we're bullshit busting. Yeah, we want to change things about the fitness industry, but yeah, we're part of it and this is how we're making livings in it.
Zoe Peled: Yeah. And I welcome people to do that at any point for us. And I guess a big thing that it comes down to, though this is not the only factor, is transparency.
Karina Inkster: Right.
Zoe Peled: So I, and perhaps I'm biased, I feel that we are very transparent in you know, the ways that we present ourselves and present the work that we do and what we choose to talk about and feature on the website. And we are humans actually affiliated with this. Whereas when you go to that website, it's literally just a few fields on a computer screen.
Karina Inkster: Right! Yes. And it's not an individualized, you know, yeah they say it is, but it's not, actually. It's not a human talking to you for 45 minutes about your specific goals.
Zoe Peled: No. Like, who am I talking to? Who is seeing this on the other end? Oh wait, no one is. It's not actually a human seeing it. It's a computer system that's generating a file for you, which it sends to you within five minutes.
Karina Inkster: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. Interesting. I like that transparency piece. I think that's why I connect with other coaches and don't connect with a lot of other coaches as well. Yeah, the transparency issue.
Zoe Peled: Yeah! Hmm. Which could be a whole separate episode as well.
Karina Inkster: Yeah. I think we just have like the next four podcasts to do now.
Zoe Peled: At least, as we often do.
Karina Inkster: Yeah.
Zoe Peled: So three more. Number three, when it comes to food and nutrition, you do not have to have air quote, “a better or a guilt-free version” of something.
Karina Inkster: Ooh, I like that.
Zoe Peled: So you'll see this. And I, you know, to be fair, it's not just around the holidays, but we will see a lot of recipes come out and you know, it will be labeled, “here's a guilt-free pumpkin pie. Here's a good pumpkin pie.” And what that is saying is the alternative is bad and naughty and you deserve to have your wrist slapped. And that is so fucked up because you can eat something just because it tastes good and you enjoy it.
Karina Inkster: You can! Look, here's another podcast episode we need to put on the schedule about food is not just fuel. You know how a lot of coaches talk about oh yeah, it's just fuel. It's not man! It's social, it's enjoyment. It's eating things for pleasure. There's so many other things. So yes, absolutely. That's really important.
Zoe Peled: Yep. So that's my number three. Very, very important is remembering that this year, it is the first time for many folks that they may be seeing their families or friends in person for their holiday celebrations given the past adventure of a year plus with COVID. And that is to remember the fact that many bodies, including yours and/or ours have changed throughout the pandemic.
Karina Inkster: Right!
Zoe Peled: And when we sometimes see people in person and their bodies have changed, we are compelled to make statements about that. So this is kind of a two-parter. And that is to remind folks to be aware of those comments and realize that most of the time they are probably not appropriate. And likewise, if you are on the receiving end of them, please know that those are not appropriate and that you are well within your right to say something about that and acknowledge that it is problematic, if someone is making a comment about your body, that is out of line.
Karina Inkster: That is so important. I always, whenever this topic comes up, I always think about a client we had for a long time, obviously I'm not going to name them, who told us that when they were getting the most comments around, wow, you look really fit. Wow, you've lost a lot of weight. You look awesome. Wow. Did you start working out, was the time during which this person was the least healthy with a chronic disease, and that was not welcome in that case. That was a reminder of this condition and not a choice that they made to change something about their routine and their health and their fitness and their nutrition. So presumably if you're with people you know really well, maybe that wouldn't be an issue. But it just really illustrates the fact that you don't know. You really don’t, unless you're that one single person who's living that experience.
Zoe Peled: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And then the fifth one, which is kind of tied into the first one around, you know, not falling off the bandwagon, God forbid, is being aware that, you know, starting now, there's going to be a lot of messaging that is talking about how we should be preparing for the holidays. So, you know, we should be eating super quote unquote, “clean” and avoiding quote unquote, “processed foods.” And we should maybe be exercising more because we know that when the holidays come, everything is just going to get -
Karina Inkster: It’s all gonna fall to shit Zoe!
Zoe Peled: It's just gonna be fucked and blown to pieces. And I mean, it's kind of similar to point number two, you do not need to repent and you do not need to prepare for this hypothetical disastrous situation because it's anything but that.
Karina Inkster: It really is. It really is.
Zoe Peled: It's the opposite. The holidays are, and this is not meant to sound as corny as it's going to sound, you know, we're talking about things that are rooted in togetherness and reunions and family and friends and good food and relaxing. And the fact that the industry spends so much time and so much money and so many resources presenting it as this awful thing to be fearing and getting ready for as though it's a battle. No!!
Karina Inkster: Yes. You know, it reminds me of the whole concept of seasons too. I mean, professional athletes have seasons for their training. They have their off season, they have their race season, they have their prep season and it's different. Their physiques might change to correspond with what they're doing or not doing in any given season. It's just completely normal for the human body to shift and change constantly. It's never going to be one, you know, exactly the same situation for months and months and years and years. Well, maybe it's in some cases, it is, but -
Zoe Peled: Sure.
Karina Inkster: We want to normalize the fact that seasons for humans happen and they’re a thing. Yeah, for sure. And so holiday season could be considered one of those, couldn't it?
Zoe Peled: Precisely.
Karina Inkster: Yeah. I think that's taken a page out of the athlete training book, but also the reality check.
Zoe Peled: Well, and what it comes down to, right, one of the common themes that is important to acknowledge when we talk about this and other subjects, is we have an opportunity to build more of a lens of awareness around it. So though it shifts, though it's shifting in the past years, perhaps this language and these messages from the industry were kind of swept under the rug and they were dismissed. There was no critical thought applied to them and they were taken at face value. And now the fact that there is an opportunity to kind of identify them and say, no. We need to step back for a minute. I think that that has a lot of promise to it because it's not just us having the opportunity to do that from within the industry as professionals. However, it's also inviting for the opportunity for everyone to be doing that, who is engaging with this industry, be it movement or food related parts of it, in any capacity.
Karina Inkster: Oh so well said! Yes! Cause my next question or point was going to be, well, how do we move forward? And how do we as fitness professionals implement some of these points? Like not saying, oh, it's after the holidays, let's get back on the bandwagon and shit like that right? So, and I think what you just said, addresses a lot of that kind of next step concept. It’s actually not just us. It also gives any folks who are in this world, the opportunity to think about how they're responding to messaging in the fitness industry. It gives them a chance to think about their own beliefs around what does it mean to have a holiday season? Why are we getting all of these messages that make it seem like it's the end of the world? You know? I think it’s important.
Zoe Peled: And within that, I would say that, you know, we are two humans who have no qualms talking about this and giving feedback of a very spirit in nature.
Karina Inkster: You don’t say!
Zoe Peled: And I would also encourage people to do that when they're in certain situations that do flag for them. I was at a drop-in class at a space I will not name necessarily, but I will say it's not somewhere I go often. It's more of a, like a one-off. This was kind of right after Thanksgiving. And one of the lines - it was kind of a hit like cardio style class - and one of the lines that the teacher used was like essentially go harder so you can work off that pumpkin pie.
Karina Inkster: Ah, yes. Right. So common, but so problematic.
Zoe Peled: So I gave some feedback
Karina Inkster: Oh good! Good for you!
Zoe Peled: In what I think was a very professional and reasonable way. And I would really empower people to do that because there are many professionals, as afore mentioned, who are also victim to be surrounded by all of this and breaking away from that is challenging. So any way that we can remind our colleagues to be doing that is only something that will lead to a more positive outcome.
Karina Inkster: Yes! Okay so give us the details. When someone in a class hears a line like, you know, work harder, let's increase the resistance so we can work off that pumpkin pie, presumably after the class in a one-on-one situation, I would guess, how do you approach that?
Zoe Peled: One of my favourite strategies, and I need to actually give credit to activism because this is something that I've learned to do within activism as well, is to lead with a question.
Karina Inkster: Interesting.
Zoe Peled: So in that particular circumstance, the leading question may be hey, I noticed you made this comment around working off pumpkin pie. Like where did that come from? What was your intent? And based on the response that you get, it's going to be pretty clear if perhaps it was just something in the moment that they thought would be motivational, I just made a disgusted face, to say, or perhaps it's something greater than that. And then based on that response, you can choose how you're going to give your feedback and perhaps how you would like to deliver it in terms of your tone. But I think when it comes down to it, just reminding them that it perhaps wasn't necessary. And it's a really neat opportunity for them to think of some other things and some other messages that they could be sharing in class, which aren't rooted in making shameful comments about food or about bodies.
Karina Inkster: Brilliant. So was this specific person open to feedback and open to considering other options?
Zoe Peled: They… were. They responded with a degree of like positivity and professionalism. And all I can say,
Karina Inkster: Maybe a little defensiveness?
Zoe Peled: Maybe a little defensiveness, which I get. And again, because I don't frequent this establishment, I'm not able to kind of assess if things have changed. All I can say is that I hope they did take it as an opportunity to reflect and maybe think about how their language impacts people in the classes and how it may impact people who are in a position where they don't feel comfortable having that conversation.
Karina Inkster: Right. You know what I'm thinking through this whole conversation is in the moment, it might've felt like kind of a joke or some lighthearted kind of, oh, it's not a big deal. And maybe that's the case, but really what it's doing is perpetuating a very deep seated myth slash belief around why we should be working out.
Zoe Peled: Mmhm. Exactly.
Karina Inkster: That reason being to work off treat food calories, which is such bullshit.
Zoe Peled: Exactly. And when you're in a situation like that, when we, I mean, we know our clients fairly well, as we should. We don't know everything about them. However, when you are teaching a class at a group studio as this individual was, it's possible that you may have a room full of humans who you've maybe never talked to before, and you do not know what all of the lived experiences of those humans are. So if that trainer says that, and may hypothetically have someone attending that class who has a history with disordered eating, then that is going to open up a huge, huge slew of very legitimate, challenging things for that person to navigate.
Karina Inkster: Exactly. That's a really good point about that specific situation where the coach or the instructor cannot know everything about everyone in that class. I mean we can't even know everything about our clients and we work with them super one-on-one.
Zoe Peled: Yup.
Karina Inkster: Basically continuous for many months.
Zoe Peled: A hundred percent. I mean, like I talk to some of our clients six days a week. I know a lot. I do not know everything and never will.
Karina Inkster: Right. Nor should we.
Zoe Peled: Yeah.
Karina Inkster: That's a really good point. Well, I feel like that was a lot of bullshit busted, but I also feel like we have like four more episodes that we have to do now. But, sorry, sorry. I cut you off.
Zoe Peled: We do. Well something, I alluded to this before, but something I would like to commit to for future episodes of this series is always finding, you know, quote unquote, “the new thing” that the industry is marketing with. So this time around it was noses.
Karina Inkster: I can't even believe it.
Zoe Peled: Well, and what about humans? So I was born with one nose and I broke my nose boxing. So now my nose is different. So I've had two noses, Beyond Body! So how does that pertain to… Hahaha! I digress.
Karina Inkster: Yes. I’m impressed you went down that whole rabbit hole and actually looked at the quiz and all of that stuff. I mean, like we said at the beginning, we're not necessarily focusing this as a one-off like, oh look at what this crazy company is doing. It's just indicative of what else happens in the fitness industry and it's all problematic.
Zoe Peled: Yes. You know, I would like to reiterate, it's not just this one company. And it is a reminder for folks listening who are pursuing any type of, you know, new journey related to your body or wellness or movement or nutrition, is do your research and look into it, and be critical of it, and ask questions. Because you're very much well within your right to do that and do not take these things at face value because there is a lot more behind them - or not in Beyond Body’s case!
Karina Inkster: Or not in some cases. Oh my goodness. Well Zoe as always, it was amazing speaking to you.
Zoe Peled: Pleasure!
Karina Inkster: Thank you for coming back on the show and we're going to have to do part three and part four and probably more.
Zoe Peled: Yeah, we will. Episode 10 will be the big anniversary celebration of our series.
Karina Inkster: Of this specific series. Exactly. Awesome. Well thanks so much, Zoe, and I will talk to you in our next installment.
Zoe Peled: Until then!
Karina Inkster: Zoe, as always fantastic having you on the show. Access our show notes at nobullshitvegan.com/111. And don't forget to check out our vegan resources at karinainkster.com/veganresources. Thank you so much for tuning in.