As the new year chimes in we are confronted with new goals for the year. We are bombarded with "Get a Flat Stomach in 10 days" and "Drop 20 Pounds in a Week" style magazine articles but in today's social media rich environment there is another form of inspiration. It's called Fitness Inspiration, Fitspiration or Fitspo for short!
Now don't get me wrong, most of the messages (like the one above) on Instagram, Twitter, or other social media are great and show strength and self empowerment. Of the 24 million instagram posts tagged with #Fitspo most show strength and agility (WARNING: If you search this on Instagram you might get some... uh... NSFW shots too since it's a popular hashtag). However, some of these messages fall into the category of "Thinspo" or Thin-spiration which can be damaging.
Thinspo is a category that many with severe eating disorders look to for community and justification for not eating or thinking being thin will solve all your personal woes. These messages propogate the idea that if you can rise above your need for food or workout like a fiend, people will like you more, you will be stronger, and ultimately your life will be better and even perfect.
I use to pour over messages like this.
I wanted the perfect body (aka thin) because then people would like me more, my life would be perfect and ultimately I would finally like myself. That was the thinking at least. If I'm fat (which looking back I was never really fat) then my life will be less worthwhile and I will be worthless.
Since then I've discovered running and it's taught me to love my body for the kickass machine it is. Food is the fuel so that I can be more awesome, not the thing holding me back from my full potential. Do I have a flat stomach? Not really. Do my thighs touch? Yep! Do my calves get stuck in skinny jeans? You bet. But I love my body and what it gives me the opportunity to do, six-pack abs or no six-pack abs.
So while you are collecting your inspiration for your next fitness goal, look for the deeper message in your pieces of inspiration. Some clues to weed out these thinspo messages:
- Is the message damning food?
- Is the message promoting strength and health or just being thin?
- Is the message about self-empowerment or is it about fighting an "enemy"?
- Is the message about being a better version of you or about putting down the current version of you? (aka hazing yourself into health)
Some sneakier examples of fitspo...
In 2016 I want you to feel empowered and to find your inner strength, not hate yourself. Food is not the enemy, food is the energy you need to find that better you. That piece of cake doesn't need to make you feel guilty. It's about making smarter choices most of the time, not just forgoing food all together. It's about recognizing when your full, instead of starving yourself until you binge eat (been there).
Stop looking at the countless images of fitness models and comparing yourself to them. Find the strength within yourself.
I hope in all of this it will help you find some true inspiration. Try to ignore someone else's results and understand that potato chips are just fine to eat as a part of a balanced diet.