I Was On USA Today And People Called Me Fat

By October 8, 2017Support

Yesterday I took over USA Today’s Facebook for a live workout.

Their page has 8.5 million likes. Yes, I said million.

As the current time stands (about a day after), there’s been 53k+ views, 1k+ likes, and 100+ comments. The majority of the comments are overwhelmingly positive, both from people I know who were tuning in to support and others I didn’t know at all. My favorite comment of them all:

Idk you Phyllis, but I love you.

But unfortunately, not everyone is as great as Phyllis.

Here’s what happened:

I was teaching the workout – having a blast as I do when I teach 😉 – and I’d walk past my phone to see friends and strangers alike commenting in. I saw lots of hearts, likes, smileys… all the good stuff. But, this was Facebook and Facebook is the internet, and the internet is a deep dark hole where people like to hid behind their screen and say hurtful things. I started to see some comments rolling in…

People are mean and rude, ignore them!
My daughter is awesome (love you dad❤️)

So I knew something was up. Tbh, I thought people were making sexualized comments at first which (sadly) would not have been shocking – but that’s an article for another day. Then I saw a comment that said “why is she fat?” and I was like “Ahhh really! We’re still on this?!”

For the record, here’s me:

I’m a bit thick, for sure. But fat? Really guys?

If this would have been a few years ago, these comments may have really affected me. But after years of struggling with body image and obsessive fitness behaviors, I have no qualms with my body whatsoever so I was fine with the comments, I was just more so disappointed that people still believe that fitness equals six pack abs.

Have people like Emily Crocker in your life

I’m writing this today for two purposes:

  1. To reiterate that society’s current view of fitness needs to shift
  2. To remind you what’s worth your energy

For those reading this who don’t know me – Hi, I’m Sarah! I’m an AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor and founder of the college fitness community Fit University (the site you’re currently on). I teach strength training classes, indoor cycling, and Kick It By Eliza all around Boston. My passion is showing others that fitness should and can be fun, attainable, and a natural part of everyday life. I’m on a mission to show others that fitness doesn’t look one way, despite what the media has us believing. I make an active effort to call out fads, marketing ploys, “get skinny quick” schemes, and do my best to share that fitness is so much more than what your body looks like.

Back in February 2016, I wrote an article titled “I run a health and fitness company, and I’m a fraud.” Synopsis: While I’d been preaching fitness looks different for all, I’d secretly been trying to get my body to look like what we think a fitness instructor’s body should look like. That article went somewhat mini-viral and resonated with a lot of people. You can read the full thing here.

In the past year and a half since I wrote that article, I think the fitness world has made great strides in promoting the message that what your body looks like is merely a fraction of determining your health, if that. I see it on Instagram, in the Fit University community, and within the people I surround myself with. But I guess that’s the problem, right? We tend to surround ourselves with people who share our same ideals and values. We tend to forget that there are people who…

A) haven’t even been exposed to the messages that make up our values, or
B) have been exposed, and completely disagree

I believe we should all make an active effort to surround ourselves with those people as that’s the only way that we’ll all continue to grow and evolve as humans.

Fast forward to yesterday during the Facebook Live and I was reminded that those people exist as I read through the comments post-workout. 

Here’s the thing – there are so many people in this world who are kind and supportive. Then there’s another group of people who are lonely, hurt, and insecure who have nothing better do to than sit on Facebook, watch a live workout (led by perhaps the most happy instructor they’ve ever seen in their life💁), and instead of getting up and doing the workout, just choose to sit there and comment rude and negative things. I don’t need to bore you with details but here’s some research into why people do that if you’re interested.


So what do you do?

You surround yourself with the former group of people – the kind and supportive ones – and you let all the negative stuff roll off your shoulders because it’s not worth your time, energy, or emotions. You remember that your body is yours to do with it what you want. If you find people making comments about your body, leave. If you find yourself making comments about other people’s bodies, figure out something else to do with your time. 

People will always have bad things to say. It’s up to you to know what’s worth your time and what’s not.


A huge thanks to USA  Today for having me on – check out the Facebook Live here for a quick 20 minute workout! Sign up for my email here.

Author Sarah Gaines

Sarah Gaines in the founder Fit University. Her favorite things include weight lifting, yoga, cooking, social media, traveling & ice cream. Personal motivation: changing the college fitness game.

More posts by Sarah Gaines

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