These programs frustrate me. Most likely because I have been a victim of them, and if I am being honest, I sometimes still consider what they *could* do for me.
I’ve heard about a new short-term gut health program from a popular fitness and health company.
What people choose to do for their bodies and health is their decision, so this isn’t about not signing up. Heck, some of this company’s weight training programs are great. And this company does a killer job of creating community and connection. I hope to be able to foster that same type of unity in groups I run in the future.
This is about health programs pretending not to be weight loss programs when that is precisely what they are. If there are before and after photos, it is a weight loss program. You will not change my mind on that. And companies are allowed to run weight-loss programs, so call it what it is. Stop upselling all this bloating, gut, fatigue, blah blah blah. The implication is that if you feel fat (which that statement alone needs a whole other post), this program will be your miracle. In this fatphobic world, I can understand how “unintentionally” losing weight during a gut health program can make you feel better. We praise people for shrinking their bodies and engaging in disordered eating.
Digestive health issues and diseases are real and can be life-threatening. A four-week gut protocol will most likely not address these concerns. Please work with a health professional. I’ve recently had a client dealing with a new inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis. The thought of a program sucking her in while still navigating multiple other conditions makes me scared. Scared for those desperately trying to feel better in a world where they can’t access the health care they need, the mental health supports they deserve, and the tireless fight against diet culture messaging.
If you want to build a fitness routine, I think that is amazing. Fitness is essential to me and having a program to follow for strength or running (my two favourites) is important to progress slowly, reduce the risk of injury and ensure you are resting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by food, meals, motherhood, and emotions, that’s also real. Motherhood is tough. It can be challenging to identify what is feeling hard in motherhood. Insert statement about how important counselling is. I started my counselling journey after the birth of my first child, and it has been life-changing. And hard.
Gut health programs like the one I am referring to in this post distract you from feeling the icky feelings. They give you a goal to focus on and pump you up with toxic positivity. And potentially (most likely) a side of disordered eating.
My biggest concern is that these programs prey on women, often mothers, and restrictive eating should not be the focus postpartum. In this stage of life, we are desperate for nutrient repletion and energy postpartum, and that doesn’t even include if you’re breast or chestfeeding. Sadly our healthcare system misses the mark when supporting birthing people postpartum.
If you are looking for weight loss, this program may give you short-term results (I have no idea, but I am familiar with what techniques they are using with their clients). Suppose you feel overwhelmed by your feelings in this new to you body after birth, unsure how to navigate feeding yourself or your family, or just finding a general lack of control in motherhood. A four-week program will likely have you brush all these big things under the rug, distract you for just enough time to have them come popping out again and be ready to register for another program.
Community, connection, and support are so so critical during motherhood. I understand this. And I know why this program seems attractive. I want people to know what they are signing up for. People (mothers) will then be able to make the best-informed decision for themselves.