I am so so SO excited to be bringing you this topic as this issue is really close to my heart and part of the reason nogreensmoothies was created. My whole reason for blogging is to stand up against health fads and I believe that this is something that we really need to talk about:
fit-spiration (#fitspo) and how it DOESN’T EXIST.
It’s a ridiculous trend that we need to abandon, or at the very least be very very selective about the people we chose to follow on social media for our fitspiration.
I’m going to make a sweeping statement and say that the vast majority of #fitspo out there is not designed to motivate you. It’s not about you at all in fact, its about the person posting the picture. It’s about validating them, making them feel good about themselves so when people look at their pictures they think, “wow they’re HOT.”
It is only after all the dozens of photos have been taken and the photoshop and filters have been applied that a picture is allowed to be seen by others supposedly to “motivate” us to be just like the person in the picture.
And this is supposed to motivate us to go to the gym. What bullshit is this?!
I want you to be really honest with your self right now. When you look at a picture of a girl posing in her underwear, six-pack and boobs on display, how does that make you feel? Does it make you feel empowered to make positive, lasting changes to your health? Or does it make you feel inadequate? That maybe your healthy eating habits aren’t good enough and maybe the only difference between you at the girl in the picture is that you lack the necessary willpower? If only I tried a bit harder I could look like that?
Seriously? Like I’ve already said, this has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the person taking the picture.
How is this motivating? A g-string is not necessary, for starters. Secondly, success looks different for everyone. For me, fitness success means having the energy to go about my day, but it doesn’t mean having a sixpack. It means taking a relaxed approach to exercise, and not slaving away for hours to get this sort of a body. It means (like today) skipping training on occasion for a variety of reasons. Notice how I say reasons not excuses. It’s bloody hot today, that is a good reason to take it easy, not a bad excuse to skip exercise. Exercising in the heat can land you in all sorts of trouble and could needlessly tie up medical resources that vulnerable people might need on a hot day.
In a lot of these type of pictures, health is not being promoted. Restrictive and disordered practices are being promoted. The line between #fitspo and #proanna (pro anorexia) is nearly invisible and it is alarming to me that many young people are turning to these people for nutrition and fitness advice, despite these people not have the qualifications to do so. Disordered eating is not uncommon among elite body builders and fitness models.
If after reading all of this you can still honestly tell your self that these images genuinely inspire you, then I’d like you to ask your self WHY. Why do these images inspire you? Why do you want to look like this? Will you be happier? Will your life be better?
From a general health point of view, the levels of body fat achieved by these woman and fitness models in general is not healthy for most woman. Fitness models aim to keep their body fat at 8-10%. The average woman has 20-25% boy fat. This is natural and healthy for woman of childbearing age. Chronic low body fat percentages result in decreased fertility rates, loss of periods (amenorrhea) and poor bone density. So your quest for defined abs or a tiny figure could decrease your chance of having children.
And here’s the thing: this sort of figure just isn’t achievable for some people. For some people it won’t matter how hard they work out or how “clean” they eat, they will not look like these pictures. There’s a great youtube video that explains this. The question answered in this video: How do I make myself look like Rich Froning? (One of the best male CrossFit athletes in the world.) The answer: you can’t! Your body’s genetics and how they interact with your environment will help determine what you look like. You can workout as much as you want, but it does not guarantee a body like Rich. If you can spare four minutes of your day, I would highly encourage you to check out the clip.
In our selfie obsessed culture it’s important to remember that these carefully edited pictures are there for the poster’s own benefit, not yours. There are plenty of ways we can offer support and encouragement to others starting their fitness journey and none of them require visible abs. Instead of that yoga pose on a beach, what’s wrong with just the beach, or park or forest that you happen to be exercising in? Or a simple shot of a balanced breakfast without so called “super foods?”
If someone you follow on social media makes you feel inadequate or crappy about your body, food choices or lifestyle, don’t be afraid to hit that unfollow button! After all, your worthiness as a person is not determined by your weight, appearance or by whether or not you have a visible six-pack.