You’ve probably heard of the word “fitspo” as it’s been relevant for a few years now, but in case you haven’t, it stands for “fit inspiration.” There are thousands of social media accounts dedicated to this trend and millions of images attached to the fitspo hashtag.
Fitspo may seem like great motivation to become fit and healthy and appear to be a fundamentally different trend than the obsession with looking bone-thin, but I think it’s potentially just as dangerous.
Train insane or remain the same. Eat clean train dirty. Be proud but never satisfied. These are just a few of the alarming quotes you’ll encounter on a a fitspo account that encourage girls to slave away in the gym like there’s no tomorrow. In case you haven’t heard of it, exercise bulimia is a thing. Working out should be enjoyable rather than a burden. Fitspo accounts place an emphasis on lean but toned arms, thin legs with a round butt, and of course, a well-defined stomach. These may seem like achievable goals, but a lot of these features are genetic and vary based on each individual body type.
We store fat in different places— some women are blessed with small waists and carry weight in their behind, while other women have smaller lower bodies yet larger arms and mid-sections. Additionally, if you’re around five feet tall, you can’t expect your legs will never look like the six foot model you’re comparing yourself to. You could devote hours to the gym working on your dream body and still never acquire results like the models you see.
Fitspo accounts are fixated with “eating clean,” but what does this even mean? If you don’t have the willpower to eat a meal consisting of an ounce of chicken and broccoli you are undisciplined and weak-minded. And pigs would fly before you’d ever catch these women indulging into a piece of chocolate. Fitness models have a mindset of “eating clean” with the rare “cheat meal,” but this is another term I find to be extremely damaging. Describing certain meals as cheats is an unhealthy mindset as it creates a fear around certain foods.
You don’t deserve a beating for eating a cheeseburger, and this doesn’t warrant pressure on yourself to do extra cardio to burn off this “sinful” meal. Fitspo accounts are also fixated on eating a specific percentage of macronutrients and limiting others, whether it be carbs or fats. This in completely unnecessary when it comes to health and will only drive you crazy. Aim for nutrient-dense unprocessed foods, but don’t beat yourself up if you give into your cravings once in a while.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t find it healthy to idolize the bodies of strangers and feel unattractive each time you’re bombarded with images of exceptionally toned women on Instagram. It’s great to be fit— you’ll feel strong and healthy. However, real fitness doesn’t have a certain look— for some it may be the endurance to run a six minute mile, and for others it may be the strength to squat 135 pounds.
There is no added benefit to having an eight percent body fat and this isn’t a goal you should strive for. Use yourself as intrinsic motivation to not look like someone else, but rather the best version of yourself. Forget fitspo—be your own inspiration.