Featured

My problem with the Peloton Bike Commercial Controversy

Perhaps this article could be cut short by saying that my problem with the Peloton bike commercial controversy is the fact that it exists in the first place.

But I feel really fired up after reading more and more on it, and at this point I find it nearly impossible not to give my two cents.

I’m not a Peloton customer, and I don’t think I’ll afford to be one at anytime in the near future. I’ve seen the 30 second ad roll on YouTube numerous times and never thought anything of it. After all, it’s the gift-giving season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on top of that. Brands target their audiences more than ever, with ads for products that promise to better your life. We know the gist by now, and what Peloton did was nothing new. Perhaps if this ad came out just a few years ago, people wouldn’t have batted an eye.

But what did Peloton do? You can watch the ad by running a quick YouTube search and decide for yourself. I don’t blame you if you don’t see anything wrong with it.

(Click here to view the ad)

The narrative goes a little bit like this: a husband gifts his wife a Peloton stationary bike for Christmas, and her excitement implies she’d been wanting it for a while. The wife then embarks on her fitness journey, and documents it in vlog-style videos, which she then compiles and watches at the end of the year. Seeing her journey unfold, she then says that she would’ve never believed how much a year of consistent spin classes on the bike could change her life.

The fact that the internet collectively decided that this ad promotes sexism, classism and body shaming is beyond laughable. But let’s see what people have to say:

“THE 116 LB WOMAN’S YEARLONG JOURNEY TO BECOMING A 112 LB WOMAN IS JUST RIDICULOUS. COME ON”

I’ll start with this one because it’s this unanimous sentiment that irritates me the most.

Most articles discussing the ad are quick to emphasize how the wife is “thin” and “attractive” and of course, as we all know, thin and attractive people should have no desire to exercise or, God forbid, benefit from it. Some articles even go as far as to call her “rail-thin”. It’s not only the fact that she’s not, but also the idea that all these “body positive” advocates pejoratively refer to someone’s appearance, when weight was never the focus of the commercial to begin with.

Let’s start with the technical aspect: the ad was probably shot over the span of three days. Of course you’d see no difference in the actress playing the wife. Or has the state of projection reached such levels as to divorce the audience from the reality of the matter? It’s a fictional scenario, with fictional characters.

Secondly, I’m pretty sure the brand’s market researchers are well aware of the criticisms that might’ve stemmed from the body positive community were they to expose a “before and after” kind of progress, that shows the woman’s weight loss. From what I’ve gathered, it’s transformation videos and pictures that are considered offensive within the community. Instead, they chose to approach it from a different perspective, one that I consider way smarter: the impact exercise has on the mind and soul, not on the body. They never once mentioned weight, or spinning as a tool of physical transformation, but rather focused on the woman’s overall mood and confidence. But, alas, nothing seems to please anyone anymore.

So let’s move on to the actual context of the ad. Yes, it’s fictional. But let’s put that aside for a moment and consider it was not.

Do you really think that all exercise has to offer is the promise of a “skinny” body? Does everything have to stop at appearance? Do you actually think this should be one’s ultimate goal and, if a person is “skinny” to begin with, there’s nothing else exercise can bring to the table?

I encourage anyone who thinks this to take up an activity of their choice, nothing they see torturous or out of their reach, even going on constant daily walks works. The first changes they’d notice have nothing to do with body composition, but rather with a shift in mood, confidence and attitude. Yes, people, endorphins are, in fact, not propaganda!

I’ll tel you from experience. I love spin classes and I attended them on the regular for months. Not just that, but I have had a consistent exercise routine for almost a year now. So what has changed over the year? I’m more diligent and persistent. I have a more goal-oriented mindset (not related to body-image, but performance). My endurance is better, my posture as well. I have a more positive outlook and a back-bone to my daily schedule. And most of all, I am happy. Weight-wise? I look the same as I did 3 or 4 or even 5 months ago, but that has nothing to do with my performance as a runner or cyclist.

So given the two factors, and taking into consideration their previous complaints of only showing athlete-looking actors in their earlier ads, Peloton probably thought they were going the safer route by casting an average-looking woman. Especially as the clip focuses more on her face through the front camera perspective,not her body.

“MESSAGE RECEIVED: LADIES, EXERCISE HARDER/ BE THINNER FOR YOUR MAN AND THEN THANK HIM FOR IT”

So the only 2 instances in which “the man” is shown in the ad is in the beginning, when he delivers the gift, and in the end, as he watches his wife’s process video on tape, alongside her. The fact that some people chose to see it as a way in which she was doing it for her husband or, as others put it, a way in which the husband alluded to the fact that the wife should lose a couple pounds is absurd. If anything, the ad gives the sense that she is doing it for herself, that her life changed for the better.

We have to consider that this commercial takes into consideration two factors: their general audience, and the Christmas season. Peloton is mostly used by upper-middle class people, mostly women, who want to pursue their fitness goals from the comfort of their own home. The ad seems to portray just that. The fact that the husband gifts it to his wife is just a way for the ad to deliver its main message: buy this for your loved one, ’tis the season!

And the ludicrous idea that the man bought it to her as a not-so-subtle suggestion to drop off some wight is rebutted within the first few seconds: the wife is pleasantly surprised by it, and seems to know exactly what the product is, clearly denoting she wished for it in the first place.

Oh, but I forgot, how could skinny people ever wish to exercise?

People taking issue with this aspect of the ad are either projecting their own insecurities, or trying really hard to make it fit their agenda.

And let’s not forget about all the parodies and tweets saying how if your husband gets you fitness equipment that you wished for in the first place, you should divorce him ASAP. Because this is what marriage and the relationship between two people ultimately comes to. Interesting.

A LOT OF TWEETS MOCK THE AD FOR PORTRAYING A PRIVILEGED RICH FAMILY

Peloton is a luxury product. It costs over 2000$. What other scenario could it have been placed in? And I’m going to say this again: it’s fictional, they present an idealized life. They sell an idea. They plant it in the viewer’s mind showing large spotless mansions – maybe, just maybe, that could be you! That’s what commercials have always been doing, and it seems more appropriate for such an expensive product.

Anyway, I won’t go at length with this, as it’s obviously just a meme. And I actually found some of the tweets funny, so I’ll give them that.

Look at me, becoming a defender of consumerism! Never thought I’d get here, but, hey, ’tis the season!

Ads like this have been made time and time again, but it always seems like people take special offense with the ones promoting health and fitness, even when they deliberately stay away from any weight loss related content. This commercial has been given more attention than it deserves. There are more important issues in this world, the fact that some people chose to prioritize a 30 second bike ad over everything else is woke culture at its peak. To be fair, I’m not even surprised.

What do you think? Do you believe the accusations to be fair? Comment below, let me know, and don’t forget to join the community if you’re into this type of content.

Featured

Toxic Habits I needed to leave behind in order to Live My Best Life

My late teens were perpetually transformative. I would often find myself wanting, needing a “glow up”, or, as I used to call it, a “make-over”. It usually meant going on a shopping spree, changing my style, or getting a new haircut. I was never completely satisfied with any new versions of myself. That was because, I later came to realize, I could change my appearance a million times, as long as I was the same on the inside, none of it would make for a “better” me.

I’m trying to keep it short because I know everyone skips through intros when it comes to lists. All I’m saying is that changes come from the inside, physically and, most importantly, mentally. Some issues are meant to be analysed and tackled, be it by ourselves or with the help of professionals. Some of us need closure, others need to leave behind what can’t be changed.

Here’s a small list of habits I let go of in order to be a bit more at peace with myself and the world around me. And, who knows, maybe it can help you on your journey to fulfillment as well.

THE VICTIM MENTALITY

It was easy to blame my shortcomings on circumstance.

For some reason, I developed the belief that, if something didn’t come easily, it was because the universe was fundamentally flawed and against me. That there was nothing I could do to fix it. This became more and more exacerbated as I moved to another country for uni, where I’d blame my grades on the “educational system”; my lack of friends on “discrimination” and “cultural barrier”; my weight gain on “contraception” and “food quality”. Whatever it was, it was never my fault.

All it took was taking a step back and noticing a pattern in my behavior – everything wrong in my life was directly linked to… me.

It took a lot of work to stop seeing myself as a victim of whatever outside force that wanted me to fail. I still fall into this trap now and then, and I have to remind myself that, to some extent, I have the power to change whatever I want to change.

We live in a very vast world and many things are at play on the macro, things that we truly don’t have control over. There are obviously less fortunate people who truly don’t have the resources to turn their lives around whenever they please.

But at least when it comes to my wellbeing and lifestyle, gaining back responsibility of my own actions made me finally get over my victim complex and, even more, find it within myself to give back to others who actually need help.

SMOKING

I cannot stress this enough! There’s nothing positive smoking gives you. Besides, maybe, a coping mechanism and a très chic attitude.

I think it’s pointless to start listing all the nasty things smoking does to your body because we all know by now there’s only on outcome in the end and that’s disease. And even though younger me thought it edgy to not give a shit and live in the moment, I now thank myself for the impulsive decision to go cold-turkey almost two years ago, after four years of a pack a day.

I started to notice the changes days after I quit: no more morning sickness and chest pains, food tastes better, my skin looks fresher. I no longer get really cold, and I barely catch colds in general. And, most of all and that which changed my life the most – I rediscovered the pleasure of physical exercise. And by that I mean that I can now do it properly.

To which you might say “I’m a smoker and I can still be active”. Good for you, but just imagine how much it would improve if you quit.

For me, it was a life-changer. I still crave it once in a while, to be completely honest. But the way I feel completely outweighs any once in a blue moon whim.

THE “ALL OR NOTHING” MINDSET

Of course it’s really good to be proactive and get involved, but the way I used to do it was in cycles of hard effort and burn-out. So at the start of this year I started to allow myself breathers, and not be too harsh on myself for every slip-up. As long as you have your eyes on the goal, you can pick yourself up again. Giving up completely after a bump in the road never lead me anywhere.

This “all or nothing” mindset was especially bad when it came to dieting. Maybe that’s because I was always in need of quick fixes. Religiously sticking to restrictive meal plans was never sustainable and I’d always crack, binge and give up, only to come back to it in a few weeks.

As always, becoming aware of patterns is what helps us break them. Your life shouldn’t revolve around the food you eat, and going out for food with friends or just enjoying your favourite meal shouldn’t be punished by purging and overexercising. Instead, I learned to go on with my life, eat my veg, drink my water and not let it have control over me.

Learning to trust the process and not get too caught up in details made the biggest difference to my mental and physical health.

OVERINDULGENCE

I’m obviously not only referring to food, but to every aspect of our lives.

This might seem like it goes against the previous point, but listen up:

I believe everything that is done in excess is as bad as tightly restricting it, because it still gives it the power over us. Overeating, for example, still makes food the center of our attention, granting us immediate, short-term satisfaction that is just a diversion from the real issues behind it. Instead of tackling them, we cope with them. This never frees us from their clasps, but lets them lie dormant, awaiting to resurface time and time again.

Same goes for drinking too much, smoking too much, or relying on recreational drugs to go about our day-to-day lives, which are things I was more than guilty of just a few years ago.

So yeah, have your occasional cake or your crazy night out, but do it all in moderation.

This is something that came naturally to me as I started to find balance in my lifestyle.

FAILING TO PUT MY ACTIONS IN A “LONG TERM” PERSPECTIVE

This is something younger me would’ve never understood: every decision I make today, is going to impact my life in the long run. Health-wise, I began to understand that the wholefood diet everyone is preachy about isn’t just an option in case I want to drop a few kilos by the end of the month. It is a necessity to live a healthy and fulfilling life. You might think I’m focusing too much on food and yes, you are right. But if there’s anything I learned from reading How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, it’s that everything in our bodies is inter-connected. What we eat affects so much more than our weight and appearance in general. It has everything to do with our mental and physical health as well.

Exercise is another thing I stopped considering a short-term program with the promise of the “perfect body” at the end. Like diet, it affects our overall mood and physical structure, it gives us all the good and happy hormones that makes our day a bit better every time, and relieves us of stress and worries. Overall, you get the gist: all those things we were told were good for us growing up aren’t a hoax. There’s no shortcut when it comes to health and eating healthy and exercising make us better with time.

This brings us to the end.

Above all, remember to love yourself every step of the way – love yourself enough to do what’s best for your body and soul. I’m not perfect (needless to say, no one is) and I’ve come to accept the fact that I’m learning by the day, that even though I think of it as a “journey” to become a better me, it’s not something that never comes to an end.

What is the best decision you ever made that impacted your life in the long run?

Featured

This is not a Weight Loss blog (and other disclaimers before we get started)

Yes, I’m yet another wellness blogger (because that’s exactly what this platform needs) and I decided to occupy this little corner of the internet after battling with finding a good balance in life, mostly to do with eating habits and the other side of the coin – fitness.

I guess this is the time to tell you a little bit about myself. I won’t go at great length because I believe my journey deserves a whole post to itself. In brief: it’s a tale as old as time – former fat kid goes on a rampage of yoyo dieting and failed 1st of January bucket-lists with false hopes of gym memberships and a ripped summer body. All throughout my childhood and teenage years I struggled to find the perfect quick fix to problems that were frankly a fabrication of my indoctrinated mind. It all culminated in my early twenties with a sturdy freshmen 15, a few months of Herbalife protein shakes, and overexercising, thinking I’d get to look like a fitness model overnight.

Enough was enough!

It’s been a full year since I decided to leave all my toxic behaviors behind and tune in with my own body and what it needs, all for wellness rather than fitness (although they are not mutually exclusive!)

How did I do it?

By trying to be a better me day after day. Educating myself as time went played a big role. Alas, the internet is full of diet tips and fitness shortcuts, recipes for green juices that promise to trim your waist in half and unsustainable fitness challenges. I remember being at my lowest, desperately trying to weed out what I thought was legitimate information, from marketing tactics trying to sell the latest miraculous appetite-suppressant.

But somehow I made it out of the jungle that is the food and fitness industries.

Misinformation is still out there and most people get too caught up in the latest trend to find the common sense in their day-to-day habits. This is why I decided to make this blog, to shine some light on the things I’ve learned throughout my journey and give my two cents on it.

Big BUT here: This is not a weight loss blog. As I found equilibrium within myself, I realized that loosing the actual weight played a minuscule part in it. I’m not going to deny that it did play a part in it, but not for the aesthetic reasons everyone seems to obsess over.

So yes, this is not a weight loss blog because the internet doesn’t need another preachy “expert” giving anecdotal advice masked as “facts”, when all I did was eat more veg and do some exercise.

I’m just trying my hand at this to share my journey and if I motivate even one person with what I write, then my time here was well worth it.

These being said, everything I’m going to share is my own experience and my opinion. I’ll try to be as respectful and educated as I can, but, as everything you read on this big world wide web, you should take it with a grain of salt. And it definitely goes both ways: I am very open to discussion.

Let the journey begin!

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started