Why #Fitspo Is No Good For Your Health
Cancer activist Krystal Barter says it's not all it's cracked up to be.
If you didn't know it, this week is Women's Health Week. Time to think about your body and how you feel, right? And for Pink Hope Founder Krystal Barter it's a time to talk seriously about your health... and to stop taking health advice from the #fitspo movement on social media.
According to Krystal, #fitspo one of the biggest enemies there is of women's health and while she agrees that healthy eating and fitness is part of looking after yourself, she worries that we're not taking the rest of it seriously.
“Women, young and old, are looking to social influencers for health advice, and that’s risky business," she told ten daily. "Just because you post a green smoothie on your Insta, doesn’t make you the pinnacle of health.”
"I want young people, and my children, who are influenced by social media, to have a robust understanding of what healthy actually means."
I’m worried at the moment as you have people who aren’t healthcare professionals giving advice. To me, it’s really important that we surround ourselves with a great health care team and trust our guts and ask for second or third opinions no matter what."
She suggests the movement is teaching women that health is about your lemon and hot water in the morning, and your miso soup for lunch, but health is so much more than that, “It’s about breast checks, blood tests and regular visits to your GP.”
"We want to create a movement of people becoming their own health advocates. Taking active risk mitigation steps on a daily basis to really truly put their health first. You can’t have enough green smoothies for that or even enough broccoli."
And before you ask -- yes, she would know.
Krystal’s family carries the BRCA1 gene fault and many women in her family have been diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer including her mum who was diagnosed with breast cancer at just 36, her nan at 44 and her great grandma at 68.
At age 22, Krystal underwent genetic testing and returned positive for the BRCA gene (the same gene fault that made worldwide headlines in 2013 when it was revealed Angelina Jolie carried it).
At only 25 and with a husband and young family, Krystal had a preventative double mastectomy in 2009, and had her fallopian tubes and one ovary removed in 2014 to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer, telling ten daily, "even though my options were brutal they were a whole lot better than the options afforded to women in previous generations."
"We only have one body and one life," she said, "and because of the health issues my family have faced I truly appreciate that. I don’t want other people to take their health for granted."
Krystal's wish is that we all take control of our health isn't as terrifying as it may sound. In fact, it's rather inspiring.
"I don’t want to create a sense of doom and gloom in young people but really create this kind of preventative health movement where it's aspirational to be in control of your health in a more robust way," she said. "It’s not just uploading a pic of yourself drinking a green smoothie and a gorgeous Buddha bowl, it’s like talking about real health And the issues that people face."
READ MORE: What Your Mouth Says About Your Health
Find yourself a really great GP
"That's one of the most critical elements -- find a GP that takes your queries seriously, and if they don’t, then find another one.
Sit down with your family
Ask them “what illnesses have we had in the family” -- if you have the information you can make active decisions about your health.
Get as much infomation as you can
Social media doesn’t have all answers. Get advice from people who are trained health care professionals and find the right team around you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Be an empowered participant in your health -- don’t think that just because you eat healthily and have beautiful green smoothies, you'll be fine. A healthy lifestyle is important in illness but that isn’t 100 percent protection.
Krystal told ten daily that she wants people to rethink how they see their healthcare. "We think about servicing our cars more than we probably go and see a doctor or we think about our investment portfolio -- but what about your actual health, because health is the ultimate wealth."
Her dream from all this is that all women have a yearly wellness exam -- addressing whatever health risk is suitable for your age bracket and family health history, so you’re an active participant in your own health.
"At the end of the day," she argued, "if our body fails us we have nowhere else to live."
Feature image: Getty