“Just do it” is an outdated marketing campaign that is highly abusive

Most of you have all heard by now, the “just do it” marketing slogan that was coined by Nike in 1987. The gen-X’ers, and older generations came to use this slogan in our daily lives to help inspire others when it came to general fitness and weight loss. But the more time I spend with gen-Z’s and millennials on WordPress and TikTok, the more I am learning that terms like “just do it” – are now considered to be highly abusive. And you know what? I actually agree with this.

“Commit to the idea that you can, you will, and that failure isn’t an option!”

Just typing this, makes me want to vomit up my lunch that I just had. There’s nothing more abusive than this and it’s a term that is most often used by older generations.

In the group that I moderate, we have members from all around the globe, of all ages, sizes and race. I worked really hard to turn the group into a supportive environment for weight loss motivation and encouragement. Every now and then, someone will slip through the cracks and practice “tough love” on a post like the comment posted above. I see this comment so much in fitness groups and it just pisses me off every time.

A new member asked how he could lose weight in the face. He said he had lost the weight around his hips/waist, but wanted a slimmer face. He was really struggling with this and was seeking serious responses. At first, I thought he was trolling the group. But then I realized, no, this dude actually is crying for help. He asked how he could lose weight in his face – he was really struggling with his recent weight loss progress but could not lose weight in his face. He asked for any advice on how to do this.

Tough love – is abusive

I went with my usual response of, “spot reduction is nearly impossible. You may want to consult with your doctor,” and walked away from the discussion for a bit. I came back to the discussion to see that he added some more details and was being harassed by a female group member.

“Just do it!” she said to him.

“I’ll try, I’m just not feeling up to it right now,” he said.

“Commit to the idea that you can, you will, and that failure isn’t an option!” she said.

And this is where I intervened. I put on my “moderator” hat and removed her comments. Yes, that’s the kind of moderator I am. I try and keep the discussions on point and to the original topic where possible. People get so mad otherwise.

It was then that I realized the person asking the question, could very well be suffering from body dysmorphic disorder or body dysmorphia – this is a term that I used recently. And while I’m not a doctor, I recognized the warning signs.

I’ll do a follow up post on what body dysmorphia is – but it’s important to this story, I promise.

“Just do it”

Telling someone to “just do it” or “push through the pain” – these are marketing slogans created by corporate America to push expensive health and fitness products onto society. And while they’re great motivators for people who are lazy or just feel unmotivated – this “advice” can be so damaging to someone who is really struggling with a mental health disorder or physical illness.

When I first took over the group, we had problems with so called “fitness dominants” or “pro trainers” who were looking for females to train and mold into a perfect partner. Just typing that makes me want to puke. The problem was these dominant or alpha types weren’t there to help people. They had zero training in fitness or health. And they were only there for selfish reasons – to be served by another person.

One of these “fitness doms” posted in the group and bragged about the fact that he made his date, who was very young, and very overweight, run up a very large mountain – about 5 km uphill. She had no prior training to hiking or mountain climbing. She begged him to stop and even threw up twice on the way up. The scary thing was – he had just met her from the website and didn’t ask her if she had any medical conditions that he should worry about.

Yes, there are actually people like this online. He bragged about publicly humiliating this girl, pushing her way beyond her physical limits and got “off” on making her suffer.

Can you see anything wrong with this?

The whole “just do it” slogan reminds me of this abusive behaviour. It’s outdated. Overly used. And in some cases, extremely dangerous.

“Push through the pain”

Okay, sure. Sometimes you get a good kind of pain when it comes to working out or pushing your limits. These are called DOMS (ironic) – onset of muscle soreness. But there are different levels of pain that may actually indicate an injury, or a reinjury. I speak from experience on this one.

Telling someone to “push past the pain” and ignore sudden or onset pain, is a very dangerous thing to do. Especially when it comes to chest pain. Or joint pain.

I actually re-injured my knee in a mountain hike back in 2014. I had lost 70 pounds in six months, went to the gym five times a week, took up cardio kick boxing, hiking – and traveled to the mountains twice a year for mountain hiking. Even at my fittest, I could barely do 2 km’s uphill – let alone FIVE km’s. I can only imagine what that poor girl must have felt like.

Unfortunately, after that last hiking trip, my knee would never recover and I have limited mobility now. Hiking is a dream – but fitness is still a priority and I am trying to do better with it.

Fitness and mental illness

As many of you know, I’ve struggled with grief and anxiety over the years. Recently, I went to therapy and became very self-aware of how much damage bullying had done to my self-confidence. It took a year of therapy just to realize that the bullying in the office was NOT my fault. That I was a good worker, and I was just working with very unsupportive people.

Mental health disorders like body dysphoria, when serious, may require therapy for very severe cases. When I say severe, I mean that the dysphoria, has changed your life to the point that you’re afraid to leave your home, or be around others for fear of being judged about your body.

In most cases, what a person really needs, is just to find a great support group, good coaches or trainers who have received professional training in their field to help them achieve their fitness goals. In severe cases, a person may require medication like anti-depressants.

If you find yourself surrounded by people who use slogans like “just do it”, “push through the pain” or “just suck it up” – it’s time to find yourself some new people.

Everyone has something about their bodies that they don’t like. That’s a part of life. Whether it’s that scar on your leg, or a birth mark on your face, or you can’t lose that “muffin top.”

While people certainly can be cruel, especially online, and clueless, just know that you are worthy of love and acceptance – no matter what size you are.

The number one person to look after you – is YOU. If you have these kinds of people in your life, then maybe it’s time to cut them out and find people who you can be yourself with. Because these are the people that will bring out your BEST self.

And as for Nike, maybe it’s time for a new slogan. I’ve always liked Sketchers better.

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