Labeling is very common amongst conversation among people. Someone might refer to someone as being ‘preppy’ or ‘nerdy.' How do we handle it when labels are attached to actions? I think labeling is very common with weight loss and for people who have made major life style changes. For instance, I recently lost over 40 pounds and often have been labeled as achieving my ‘mid-life crisis’ body. I am not having a mid life crisis. What the hell is a mid-life crisis….ha ha ha. Look, life happens. We have good times and bad times. The truth is, I got a health wake-up call from my doctor, and I just was sick of feeling like crap. So, I decided to do something about it. Wonderful, that should be seen as ideal in this “live longer” and “50 is the new 30“ society, right?
Throughout my new health journey, I received lots of wonderful praise and support but also some really crazy comments or what I consider to be negative labeling. For example: “You look great for a short girl.”, “I liked it when your face was fatter.”, “Don’t work out too much and get that manly look.”, “Don’t get too skinny.” Luckily, I have enough confidence in myself to see past comments like that, but I have clients, friends, and family that have encountered similar run-ins with labeling, and their heartfelt hurt after made me think about the negative effects it causes. I do believe that those types of comments in the examples are just unintentional projections of people’s own insecurities or desires to accomplish things they see not attainable for themselves.
What does negative labeling do to others? Plain and simple, they upset, diminish, and insult. I worked my tail off to reach my weight loss goal and maintain a healthier lifestyle not to impress anyone, but because I wanted to feel healthy, strong, youthful etc. So when someone throws a comment like “don’t get too skinny,” it offends me. I want to dope-slap them, just kidding. I'm a lover not a fighter. Being 'skinny' was not part of my plan. In fact, I don’t believe that is on the goal list of anyone who loses weight, and I am sure if they are underweight, there is a medical professional helping them with that. With that said, I think labeling is an issue worth addressing.
I don’t necessarily believe that people intend to label others to cause any harm or offense, but they do, so I’ve come up with a list of a few examples of what not to say and what you can say to help nix the labels. It stems from what I call the “keep it simple, keep it real” method. I don’t know if these examples will help the majority of people, but I’m hoping it will shed some light on the matter and make others think before their “foot is in their mouth” (insert bug-eyed emoji here).
What not to say to someone on a health and fitness journey vs. What you can say to someone who is trying to make a positive change in his or her life
NO: Now that you have your revenge body back, you can start dating. (Size shouldn’t be a factor on falling in love.)
YES: You got a kick ass body, I am so happy to see you back in the game.
NO: Wow how much weight did you lose? Don’t get too skinny, no one likes that. (Hands down, the worst negative labels are skinny/fat)
YES: Wow how much weight did you lose? You look fabulous. I bet you feel great too.
NO: I liked you better when you smoked cigarettes. You were more fun. (WHAT? Cigarettes have nothing to do with a person’s ability to have fun.)
YES: Congratulations, I think it’s wonderful you kicked a bad habit.
NO: Oh she’s on a diet; she doesn’t eat cake. (Never answer for anyone, because believe me I’ll eat the cake when I want to.)
YES: Say nothing … let friends who are on healthy journeys speak for them!
As you may or may not be aware, Negative labeling occurs in lots of situations, not just in lifestyle changes but in general. Regardless, ‘The Fun Smoker,’ ‘Fat/Skinny Person,’ and ‘The Non Cake Eating Friend’ labels got to go. Keep it simple, keep it real, and if you don’t have anything nice to say, even if unintentional, say nothing at all.
Rachele has been a dance and fitness instructor for over twenty years and is the owner and director of The Dance Haven, Inc. She holds a Business Degree with a Minor in Dance along with a Certification in Physical Fitness & Training. Her passion is teaching, and she believes that dance and fitness can improve one’s quality of life. Rachele enjoys working at various local gyms, schools, and at community events and fundraisers. She loves teaching in a community-based environment because it allows her to give personal attention, build relationships, and help individuals to strive towards their fitness goals. Rachele has been a licensed Zumba® Instructor and Zumba Gold® Instructor since 2009 and has received rave reviews from clients with and without past fitness experience. She teaches a variety of group fitness and dance classes for all levels. Her classes leave you feeling amazing inside and out!
“My goal is to motivate people and drive them to challenge themselves. I hope my
positive energy and love for dance and fitness will help encourage others and
leave them inspired after each class.” Rachele R. Kakles
You can follow Rachele on:
Facebook: The Dance Haven