With todays blog, I wanted to approach it from a different angle and talk fitspiration.
You know, those topless ab selfies you see on instagram or the inspirational and motivational memes? You know the tags accompanying these images too right? Here are a few of instagrams top hitters...
#fitspiration #fitspo #mondaymotivation #fitlife #fitfam #fattofit #weightlossmotivation #bodygoals #healthylifestyle #cleaneating
Fitspiration! It's a popular tag on Instagram especially, with (just check at this present time) 13,185,326 images or videos tagged. That's a lot!
All the images attached to these tags are generally designed to motivate, inspire and help us make a step towards our goal.
Or are they?
Now it's true that a majority of fitness professionals like myself, as well as those already into fitness, will actively promote a "healthy (or the fitness) lifestyle" on social media through images, videos and blogs. The main medium here being through images, or memes.
But looking at these images in more detail, do they help or hinder our overall approach to health and fitness? Do they motivate or make us feel guilty, lazy and question our levels of commitment? Do they make us love ourselves and our bodies or make us wish we looked like someone else? Do they promote a healthy lifestyle?
Here are a few...
Do you think these posts, images do their job?
Do they inspire?
Do they put the right message out?
I would say absolutely NOT.
They focus primarily on an external goal (or physical appearance) as opposed to overall health and in most cases portray exercise as a punishment. They also use fitness as a way to eradicate any guilt you may feel due to food choices made. Promoting a lack of sleep and the fact we must train to the point of fainting isn't in my eyes a component of a healthy lifestyle either, nor does it provide me with a level of fitness inspiration that the accompanying hashtag may suggest.
On the flip side, maybe they will inspire you and provide you with the drive to change?
But even if it did inspire change, would that change come from a place where you are happy?
You'd be motivated to change with guilt as a driver. Using the ice cream you ate yesterday, or the abs you see on a picture to define your goals, setting unrealistic expectations for your own physical change.
First we need to identify what the "fitness lifestyle" is and if these images reflect exactly what is required to be "healthy".
Are visible abs the sign of a healthy individual?
Do we need to work to the point of sleep deprivation to succeed?
Should we cover ourselves up on holiday because we don't have chiseled abs?
Promoting a healthy lifestyle to me is first of all feeling good in our own skin. It's feeling strong and injury free. It's sleeping well. It's not carrying burdens or feeling stressed 24/7. It's eating healthy, nutritious foods that support our day to day. it's doing what's within our power to make positive changes. It's enjoying what we do and having the energy to support ourselves in our journey as well as our loved ones.
Health and fitness is a wonderful thing and only when we are happy and content with ourselves can we truly live life to the fullest.
I think it can be quite easy (me included!) to scroll through Instagram or Facebook and compare ourselves to how others portray themselves or preach to the masses, and get sucked into the way these people promote the fitness lifestyle.
I should be doing this. I should look like that. I'm weak if I'm not lifting heavy weights like that guy. I can't take my top off on holiday unless I look like a fitness model. I must train to point of exhaustion. I shouldn't sleep if I have goals to hit. I shouldn't be eating this type of food. I'm lazy because I didn't go to the gym yesterday.
Health and fitness is a gift. I think we should embrace it for what it is. Something to enhance our life, not stress us out even more.
There are certain areas of the health and fitness that promote this pit of self shaming, self doubting, anxiety which you may come across from time to time. What's key is to not get mislead into thinking you're not making progress or allow self shame to affect your appearance, progress or direction.
You are completely unique and are free to live life exactly how you see fit.
Good news is, if you're ready this, you're in the right place :)
Stay strong and be the best YOU can be.