Unhelpful Inspiration

Recently I started running again and I also made an attempt to kick some of the crap out of my day-to-day diet.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to enjoy cake, but it's not something I can eat regularly without piling on the pounds. Stupid metabolism.

I took to Pinterest to track down some motivational pins to help me on my way, since I really struggled at first, but I've got to say that a lot of the 'fitspo' (fitness inspiration to the uninitiated) seemed problematic in the least.

I know I tend to take things a bit too seriously, but as someone who's struggled with disordered eating in the past and hasn't always had a healthy relationship with food, I find it important to analyse the messages set out to people looking to improve their health, wellbeing or fitness levels to make sure they are going about it in a way that isn't going to be damaging to their self esteem.

Here are my thoughts on a few of the offenders:


"I" is the only difference between Fit and Fat: Well, I mean first of all there are a number of different things that might make someone carry some extra pounds which are completely out of a person's control - such as medical reasons. Second of all, people can absolutely be fit and fat at the same time. The two aren't mutually exclusive - I've seen many overweight people complete challenges such as half marathons or triathlons. Don't tell me they can't be fit! Also see: skinny people can absolutely be unfit. The two aren't guaranteed to go hand in hand.


Run like there's a hot guy in front of you and a creepy one behind you: I mean it's not so bad. It's just that as a lone female jogger, there is always a worry that there IS actually a creepy guy behind me. I don't think that thinking about the threat of sexual or physical violence is really the best motivation for exercise... 


Do if for the "holy fuck, you got hot": Because that's the only reason to work out? So you look more sexually attractive? It's maybe a reason, but there's so much more to be gained. Also: people who don't work out can also be hot as hell. People who do work out but are still considered overweight are still hot as hell. Also, do this for you and what you think about you, not for what other people might think of you. Besides, someone might just think the 'before' photo was more attractive anyway. That's not your concern!


You can cry about being overweight or cry during a workout. Only one helped me lose weight: First of all, no one should need to do workouts that make them cry to lose weight. For the love of God find something you enjoy! Second of all, being overweight isn't anything to cry about. As JK Rowling said: "Is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?"


I would rather be covered in sweat at the gym than covered in clothes at the beach: No one's beach attire needs to be dependent on how they work out. You don't meet western society's expectation of a bikini body? Rock that bikini anyway. You do but you feel more comfortable covering up? No problem. It's all about your preferences as an individual person.


Soooooo.... I tried to find some more positive examples, and these were the ones I liked, or liked more than the others anyway!


One of the greatest moments in life is realising that two weeks ago, your body couldn't do what it just did: I like that this is about achievement and celebrating what your body can achieve with hard work, rather than just what it looks like. However, let's not forget about a lot of ableism is fitspo. See below:


I run because I can. When I get tired, I remember those who can't run, what they would give to have this simple gift I take for granted, and I run harder for them. I know they would do the same for me:
Ok, so it's problematic in the sense that it assumes people who are unable to run would love for the chance to, which is of course not true. You'd have to go ask every disabled person. But I like that it highlights what a lot of fitspo doesn't - that people who can exercise in this way take it for granted that their bodies are able to. Of course disabled people can find many different ways to stay fit, and it's so unhelpful constantly seeing the same narrative of only super-toned people and mantras about pushing your body, when there is so much more it it.



"One cheat meal won't make you fat, just like one clean meal won't make you lean. You've got to practice self discipline to have more "on" days than "off". They key is to find your healthy moderations, enjoy your life and meet your goals, You can have both.": I suppose I take exception to the 'clean' meals bit, because I hate labelling food as such, but the bit about moderation is good. You can enjoy your life - you just have to be committed. I know I won't be giving up cake - I just know it's not healthy for me personally to eat it every day!


 What do you think? Do you have any positive examples of fitspo?



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