I nearly quit the industry 9 years ago because of a small group of very vocal haters.
There were people who could not stand that I was blogging about Martin Berkhan’s Leangains principles, and they used to cuss me out endlessly on Reddit.
There was a guy who ran a private Facebook group who would tell people that I was setting calories too low and giving people metabolic damage.
It even led, one day, as I was sitting in my parents’ house over the Christmas holiday, to get a short, curt email from Martin saying, “There have been complaints. Send me the last three client plans you have made now. Do not argue.”
Three years ago I had a very good industry friend, Alberto Alvarez, visiting Tokyo.
Alberto was helping me out with some things for the site at the time, and he was really good.
But it was clear to me he has a gift of connecting with people. By sharing the story of his tough childhood that led him to comfort eat his way to being obese, and how he then lost half his body weight and has kept it off, his Instagram had grown in a few short months to 30,000 followers.
But, the morning after he arrived, we’re standing in my kitchen drinking coffee and he says,
“Andy, some people are angry that I’m talking about nutrition. They say that because I’m not a registered dietician I don’t have any right to open my mouth.
“I think I’m going to quit the Spanish industry and just come work for you.”
All those memories from years before came flooding back.
WAS I FULL OF BS?
As I said, I nearly quit the industry also. I started to believe that I didn’t know what I was doing.
I flew to Kansas City from Osaka to attend a conference, and I pestered the shit out the speakers to understand what I was doing was wrong.
What I found was that:
- Metabolic damage is a myth, but it was a really pervasive one at the time.
- It’s well documented in the research that people underreport their calorie intake and overestimate their calorie expenditure.
- People let fluctuations in weight send them into a panic, not realizing that it’s water and gut content.
- And not a single one of the speakers didn’t have their share of haters.
This gave me confidence but also a solution.
Part of the problem was that alongside my regular, ongoing coaching options, I was also selling a one-time nutrition set-up package.
And that did not give me the opportunity to interact with people if they ran into issues. So, I stopped selling that and focused exclusively on ongoing coaching with a 3 months minimum from then on.
I shared this with Alberto, and he promised to persevere.
And I’m happy to say that three years later, his account has now grown to 200,000 followers, he has a popular website, book deals, and he’s making a real positive impact on diet culture in Spain.
How I deal with haters in the fitness industry
I know how a few nasty comments can sting and there are three things I’ve learned that I’d like to share.
👉 You will never be big, strong, or lean enough for some people to feel you’re worth paying attention to. And you will have some irrational haters.
That’s ok. Most of these comments are rooted in jealousy, insecurity, or just boredom.
You’re not creating for those people. Your work is not for everyone and it doesn’t have to be.
👉 Don’t let that voice inside your head tell you that there’s no point in YOU creating content because other people have said it better.
Your followers don’t want to hear it from them, they want to hear it from you.
And this idea that everything we create has to be unique is nonsense. Everything is a remix and iteration on something else. Everything. It’s the same with music and art. Of course, give credit when it’s due, that’s how I made most of my best industry friends. You’ll find your own unique voice over time.
👉 There will always be more to learn. And if you stick around in the industry for long enough, you are going to get some things wrong.
Useful messages are sometimes delivered in shit-covered wrapping.
So be aware that occasionally haters make valid points, try not to let your ego get in the way of seeing that, and you’ll learn much faster and be a better coach for it.
We are responsible for our actions, but we cannot control other people’s emotions.
If your content is focused on helping people, rather than rubbing their noses in how much better you are than them, you can hold your head up high.
Don’t quit because of haters. You never know what you might go on to achieve and how many lives you may positively impact.
Thank you for reading. If you’ve had anything similar, regardless of your industry, I’d love to hear in the comments what that was and how you handled it. 🙏🏻😊