There are those who profit from a toxic diet or exercise culture. Early ’00s fitness star and TV personality Jillian MichaelsIt is not unusual.
Michaels has a long record of fitness-related crimes, ranging from verbal abuse to injurious training methods. Michaels has been out of the television spotlight for some time but she still uses every platform to spread body-shaming garbage.
Recently, she posted a quick Instagram video in which he managed to promote unhealthy body standards within a matter of seconds.
‘Am I A Hero?’ (She Isn’t)
The voiceover in the video asks: “Am I a hero?”
The caption above the video reads: “Showing women everywhere…”Michaels lifts her sleeve to reveal her flat, signature torso. “that abs are possible in your 40s.”
“I really can’t say,”The voiceover is still on. “but yes.”
“…And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!”The caption is below. This raises a bigger question: Who should we be ignoring? Biology? Medicine? Reality?
The 48-year-old’s claim that all women over 40 can (read: should) have flat abs is problematic for Multiple reasons. So, let’s break down all of the reasons why this notion is not only unrealistic—but pretty absurd, too.
Because It’s In Your Genes
Visceral Fat is fat that surrounds the abdomen and intestines. It makes bellies flat, not soft. Michaels’ claim completely ignores the reality that this type of fat distribution is largely based on genetics.
Hypothyroidism is often responsible for a larger midsection. This condition makes it more difficult to lose weight than to gain it. It also runs in the family.
Your Gut Health Is In Trouble
Michaels loves to tout healthy eating practices, even if they aren’t always right. In fact, she’s even told her young daughterShe chose her favourite pop star “loves kale and hates pizza”To encourage healthy eating. (Because, you know, that’s healthy.)
What she doesn’t seem to mention is our diet’s effect on our GI tract. Chronic bloating and fat retention can be caused by food sensitivities or an out-of-balance microbiome. These two factors, unsurprisingly, can impact our ability to flatten our stomachs.
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Because You’re On Medication
Weight gain can be caused by several medications. Medications that directly affect insulin levels—injectable insulin for diabetics, for example—can cause the body’s cells to absorb too much glucose. The body then converts this glucose into calories.
Antidepressants and antipsychotics also affect the body’s insulin levels. Common SSRIs, such as Celexa or Zoloft, increase brain serotonin which is responsible for appetite regulation and weight regulation.
Weight gain can also be caused by oral corticosteroids. These drugs can cause weight gain by stimulating the appetite, promoting water retention, or even leading to insulin resistance. Antihistamines and beta-blockers are also weight-affecting medications.
It has to do hormones
Hormones have a significant impact on how our bodies store and lose weight. First, let’s start with the most obvious: pregnancy. As the body expands or shifts to accommodate a new baby, it directly affects the abdominal muscles.
Women who have had children may find it difficult to return their torsos back to the pre-pregnancy size. Michaels has not had to deal this problem. She adopted her first baby, and her partner gave birth to their second.
Even after having children, hormones continue to affect our weight. Women stop ovulating when their bodies stop producing progesterone. This helps to burn fat for energy. Many women who go through menopause experience weight gain around their abdomen.
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Because You’re Human
Finally, the most important reason behind Michaels’ “I’m a hero for having abs” claim is that it just isn’t true. There’s nothing wrong with having abs. But there are a lot of things wrong with telling other people that there’s no reason they shouldn’t have them, too.
We are humans—lumpy, soft, squishy humans. Michaels isn’t made out of steel. She also has soft, lumpy, and squishy bits when the cameras stop. It’s impossible to achieve anything other than this.
Still, there’s a reason toxic fitness culture has been around for decades. It’s persuasive, manipulative, and plays into our deepest, darkest fears. The society then reaffirms our fears through Hollywood body standards, social networking, and by giving toxic women like Michaels a global platform.
There are many reasons to consider yourself a hero. And outside of her toxic fitness empire, I’d give Michaels the benefit of the doubt and say she has her fair share. One thing is certain, however: Her stomach shape is not one of them.