If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you already know that I get really upset when I think someone is being taken advantage of, or if I see someone making elitist and misguided judgements against anyone based on their appearance or lifestyle.
That’s why, when I got the following Facebook comment on my 75Hard review post, I got a little bit upset:
“The majority of the population can’t hack a “stupid challenge” like this because they do lack the self discipline and probably could benefit from at least pushing past sitting on the couch every day.”
Just for a bit of background, 75Hard is a fitness challenge that’s essentially a bunch of rules based on nothing…just what some guy named Andy Frisella believes will ‘change your life.’
The rules include everything from reading every day, exercising every day, being on some sort of diet (he doesn’t say which diet, you get to choose), and taking cold showers.
My argument against 75Hard and fitness/nutrition challenges in general (read my post about them here) is that they’re punitive and have no lasting value. They don’t teach people anything about their relationship with food, and they can be physically and emotionally harmful.
But anyhow, I initially didn’t answer the comment that this girl left, because eh…there were a lot of comments, and sometimes if someone posts something that I don’t agree with, I just leave it. People have the right to disagree with my content, and why argue?
But weirdly, a few weeks later, I got called out by someone for not responding to that particular comment, so I told the new commenter what I thought:
I didn’t respond to the comment above because I don’t agree with what she said about ‘self discipline’ and ‘sitting on the couch all day,’ which is disgustingly ableist. She told me to ‘do my research,’ which, well, is pretty ignorant seeing as the actual research tells us that shaming people into making changes to their lifestyle and diet doesn’t work.
Needless to say, there was a bit of a kerfuffle that included some comments being deleted (not mine). Just a note about that: I only delete comments if they’re a liability, or they’re over-the-top rude or disrespectful to me or to another commenter. This doesn’t happen all that often, surprisingly.
You might be wondering what this exchange between me and a follower (who I’m pretty sure no longer follows me) has to do with the topic of us not all having the same 24 hours in a day.
Besides the fact that her comment implies that fat people do nothing but sit on the couch all day, which makes steam come out of my ears, what she said is very similar to the meaning behind the quote, “we all have the same 24 hours in the day.”
I’ve seen this 24 hours comment a lot, especially in challenge and fitness circles. It drives me absolutely nuts.
Here’s just a few graphics I pulled from online:
When I look at these graphics, all I see is blame and shame.
Am I alone? Is it just me?
Someone is sacrificing more?
Lack of direction?
These things don’t even enter into the equation for an entire segment of the population. Posting or saying any of this shows a complete lack of insight into the real-life struggles that others have. Not only that, it rubs their faces into these struggles.
I’m pretty sure that when someone throws around the ‘same 24 hours in a day’ thing, they’re just trying to make themselves feel good by making other people feel like garbage. And although they’re meant to be ‘inspirational,’ these sayings shame others into feeling as though they aren’t trying hard enough to meet other peoples’ expectations for them.
Needless to say, it’s nobody’s job to meet YOUR expectations of how you think they should be running their life.
There are a lot of reasons why someone might not work out, or be ‘successful’ in completing a challenge like 75Hard, but I’m willing to bet that none of these reasons are simple. People are complex, and to sum them up in a blanket comment doesn’t do them justice, nor is it fair.
Sure, the laws of time apply to everyone. Nobody has 25 hours in a day. But real life, not ‘excuses,’ can impact a person’s ability to just ‘get off the couch’ and live a life that’s the stuff of an inspirational quote.
No matter how hard some people work, life still challenges them beyond their capabilities.
Yes, there are always outliers, and their stories are the ones that make it into the media. Someone who was living with no running water, dependent on food banks, and who is now the CEO of some company.
Even some ‘diet gurus’ have rags to riches stories. People eat that sh*t up, and it’s great for marketing and sales.
But the majority of people have lives that won’t turn out that way, and that has nothing to do with their level of motivation or the number of hours in their day.
If it’s not a matter of ‘motivation’ and ‘grind,’ what creates barriers in peoples’ lives that stop them from achieving financial, health, or fitness goals?
There can be many things, but in this case, I want to talk about the social determinants of health.
Social determinants of health are defined by the WHO as ‘non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.’
They’re the kinds of things that can throw a monkey wrench in the gears of even the most diligent of people.
We’re not even talking here about those whose chronic disease keeps them from being active and living a ‘normal’ life, but SDH affect them, too. It’s all connected.
So yeah, motivation doesn’t enter into it.
The social determinants of health include:
Income and social protection
Housing and environment
Early childhood development
Social inclusion and non-discrimination: this can range from having friends to lean on during
Access to adequate health services
Unemployment and job insecurity
Put simply, we all have different priorities and needs.
Social Determinants of Health are why people who are lower socioeconomic status often have poor health compared to their more affluent counterparts.
Someone who is working multiple jobs, shifts, is on their feet all day, and/or is struggling to pay their rent might not give a sh*t about your 75Hard challenge. Their 24 hours are exhausting and stressful.
Another person who lives in a food desert, or who is struggling to afford food at all, is probably going to have an issue meeting the Whole30 guidelines. It’s not that they ‘aren’t trying hard enough.’ Their 24 hours are devoted to putting food on the table as best they can.
How about the person with a medical condition that saps their energy, making them unable to work or even leave the house? Are they supposed to find the ‘motivation’ to force themselves to be active and ‘get off the couch?’ Their 24 hours are spent trying to cope.
These people aren’t lazy, and they don’t lack direction or drive. They also don’t have the same 24 hours a day as someone who shops at Whole Foods and can afford someone else to clean their home (or who HAS a home) and watch their kids.
They don’t even have the same 24 hours as a person who has a 9-5 job and a roof over their head.
These sayings are rage inducing for me, and I’m sitting here writing this from a place of extreme privilege. For someone in a less fortunate situation? I can’t even imagine how insulting and demoralizing they are.
We should remember that not everyone has the things that most of us take for granted: time for food preparation, having someone to do the cleaning (or the time and energy to do it ourselves), grocery shopping, being able to take sick days, being able to get out of bed, having access to and coverage for medications, and being able to work from home.
Those are all luxuries.
We often know nothing about the people who see our content or who we interact with online, so proclaiming that we all have the same 24 hours, or that they just need to get up off the couch, or that a ‘challenge’ is good for them, can be really off base.
It’s also ableist: that is, assuming that everyone is physically and mentally able.
Your only point of comparison should be yourself.
If you want to do a challenge, you do it. But please don’t shame people for not doing it with you.
If you want to eat organic food, go right ahead. But please don’t say that everyone should be eating that way.
Everyone has struggles that we may not know about. What’s good for you, isn’t necessarily good for someone else.