“Fitspiration” doesn’t feel very inspirational!

“Fitspiration” doesn’t feel very inspirational! You’ve seen “fitspiration” — it’s the inspiration of being fit. Kind of like “thinspiration” — the inspiration of being thin. Commonly known as “fitspo” and “thinspo.”

With the Olympics upon us, it’s only natural that we see amazingly fit athletes ready to take on the world.


If you’re on facebook, pinterest, twitter etc… really, any social networking site, then you’ve come across the new fad that is being called “fitspiration.” This is the “get off the couch and get in shape” fad of girl power. I was all about this fad at first because I thought, “hell yeah, this is about being fit and healthy and strong and not about thin, and sick.” For so long exercise fueled my eating disorder and now there is something talking about fitness here and being a strong woman – I was in all support for these messages!!!. And then I didn’t start to feel that way anymore…


The pictures and messages started to make me feel awful. I started to look at the targeted areas of the bodies of the women and I didn’t like how I looked. I’m running a decent amount and I know I won’t have abs like that. I know I had abs similar to that when I was really sick. I know it’s possible to have abs like that, but I don’t have time to maintain them. If these messages are about being healthy and getting a kick into getting in shape, why aren’t they coming across that way? Why are they only showing the extreme side of fitness and not just being fit?



As I looked at them (the pictures) they made me feel awful because I was on the road to recovery getting healthy. These are screaming for a healthy life style, right? That’s what I’m doing. I’m gaining the weight the doctors say I should, keeping it on and now I can exercise again…. but my body doesn’t look like that. So, by definition…. am I not healthy or fit? To me, it doesn’t matter which direction you are taking your weight (going up, or coming down) when you are at a healthy BMI, odds are, you are not going to look like that. Most often, at a healthy weight you will not be cut like that and you will not be able to maintain it without immense work if you are.


(First — who works out in that scandalous outfit? Really!!! You can’t get a workout in comfortably and pose like that!)

I have frustrations with these photos and this is why: There is a commonality in some of these photos – First, they are all very thin. They aren’t the average body type. There is not one specific fit body type. My fit body type might not be your fit body type. We are okay with noting that men have all different fit body types, but we expect all women to fit into this one “fit” body type. And, second, the message it sends out is not one that makes you feel great about working out. The message is disguised as healthy, but it still looks punishing.

(My thoughts on this photo is that you have to learn to listen to your body! If you puke or faint, your body is sending a message that says it has to stop! This photo encourages disordered thoughts about working out.)

The messages these photos and being fit should send out should be what our bodies are capable of doing. It should be about how we can be healthy and do things that we didn’t think possible. It should be about the fact that we can finish a workout or a run, feel proud and feel elated about what we’ve just completed. Working out is about increasing endorphins and increasing our own self respect and image, not about punishing ourselves so we fit into an impossible body type. Truthfully, these photos are just as bad as emaciated models. It’s a body type that is nearly impossible to obtain.


I am coming to terms with the fact that I’m no longer a size 0, and my frame does NOT look anything like that. My body is “soft” as my therapist likes to call it. I have fat on my stomach and my legs and I’m now at a healthy BMI. I have learned to try to accept it, and I’m really hoping that some day I will.


For so long these images reminded me of “thinspiration.” If you’re not aware of that, it’s basically a collection of images of very thin girls that eating disordered girls keep to inspire them to continue using behaviors to attain weight loss. I did this, like many other people. When I was hungry I looked for “thinspiration” to help me not want to eat and want that thin body that I was working so hard for.


As the Olympics started I was so excited to see the athletes who look so healthy and strong. Some are fit and cut, but others might not be as cut as others. The truth about Olympians is that they really do come in all shapes and sizes. I watched the USA Women’s Beach Volleyball team win their first round and they really prove to be one of the best teams in the world. As I watched them play I realized they are so strong and fit, and they are not emaciated and as cut as some others, but they are the best in the world. What I love about the athletes is that they all are healthy and in peak shape and they are the “fitspiration” and they are not the localized photos of stomachs and thighs – they are full, strong, healthy athletes that show us what our bodies can accomplish when we take care of them and properly fuel them.


Fitspiration is not sending the message that women are strong and body capable. It’s just another way to send a message that our bodies should fall into a form created by someone who feels that type looks good. Strong can be the new skinny, but there is no picture to show that; there are only words to describe it. There are no universal photos to show how strong is the new skinny, and there are no universal photos to show motivational descriptions for being fit. Truthfully, it would take 3+ hours a day of working out to have bodies like those. For me, I’d rather live life. I’d rather spend time with my family-  nieces and nephews. I’d rather go for a long, slow run and enjoy the breeze. I’d rather shop for wedding dresses with my friend. I’d rather run a 5k and not obsess about my time or the amount of calories I should consume. I would rather have the opportunity to pick up “Little C” (my nephew) and play with him, than obsess about the next workout to keep my body looking how others want it to look.
Being fit in our own way is about working out and finding what our bodies are capable of doing and appreciating how strong we are. If we can do that, we can learn to love our bodies as they are, and how fit we can be.



So – if you’re looking for some type of inspiration, as you’re looking at photos, think about whether or not that photo is sending a message to make you feel positive or negative about yourself. You only deserve positive messages.




4 thoughts on ““Fitspiration” doesn’t feel very inspirational!

  1. Wow. The “puke, faint, die, or keep going” picture is a terrible message. Exercise and self-abuse are very different. 😦

    I’m proud of you for continuing to go against the pressures of society and be healthy. Stay strong.

  2. First, I am very happy that you have recovered from a serious eating disorder. Don’t let anything I say take away from what you’ve achieved, I am not here to put you down. I have a few things to say about your post. First, the women in these fitspirational photos aren’t necessarily thin, they are in actuality fit meaning that they have very low body fat and a large portion of lean body mass. These results are very much possible for any person through effort and hard work. Their bodies look like that because they eat clean (healthy) and workout with weight training and cardio on a regular basis. Yes, each of us have a different body composition but any fit (very lean) person will look similar to the girls in the pictures give or take a few differences in bone structure. These pictures are not meant to be punishing, they are meant to give you something to work toward. We each need to have a goal in order to achieve it and visualization is a good way to keep a goal in mind. No you don’t have to be as lean as the girls in the photos (you can be just an average healthy person) but most who look to inspiration in these photos aim for bodies like them because these bodies give many girls self-esteem and confidence. If you’re training hard why not aim to look super fit.

    It would not take 3 hours/day to get bodies like theirs! Actually if you are in the gym for more than 1 hour you are overworking your body and the extra time is really counterproductive. These women focus on weight training for an hour about 3-4 times a week. Most of the reason they are lean is because of what they eat (lean proteins, good carbs and healthy fats) spread out in certain ratios throughout the day. In fact, 80% of their success comes from what they eat and 20% working out.

    The photo about not puking, fainting, etc may seem a bit extreme but it does have a positive message behind it, you’re just taking it at face value. When working out, you come to a point where you’re mind says “it burns, i wanna stop”, but its when your muscles are burning and you think you can’t handle it anymore, that’s when you are truly undergoing change, you are ultimately getting stronger. You can’t get stronger, if you stop when it burns or think you can’t do anymore. Make sure you have proper form though because the only thing that should be hurting is the muscle that is being worked, it a joint or something else is hurting that shouldn’t be, you should stop and check your form.

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m not recovered yet… Still have a way to go. I’ve been through sports and the mental toughness- played field hockey in college- I understand it all.

      I understand your point and we can disagree. I may be taking it at face value, but so do many girls and women who don’t have the athletic background, or who don’t understand nutrition to the extent we do.

      Coming from a place of constant athletics and low body fat…. I’ve learned it’s really never ok to have low body fat. Agree or not … That’s fine.

      Strong is the new skinny, I agree…. But these pictures of the wonderfully cut women is possible for everyone. Strong has a definition for everyone. We should be fit, but it should only be one area of our life.

      Sent from my iPhone

      On Apr 12, 2013, at 8:26 PM, Hungry Running Girl

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