Motivation Monday: My Problem with Fitspiration

Last week I wrote a post on setting goals, and another one about steps to take for enhancing your chances of success.  I’d like to turn Mondays into a regular motivational post, just to keep that fire lit.  When I searched “motivation” on Pinterest this morning, I was hoping for some inspiring quotes.  Instead, I was bombarded with images of (mostly) women’s half-naked bodies.

If you’ve been around Pinterest or in the fitness world for a while, you’re familiar with what I’m talking about.  The phenomenon actually has some terminology dedicated to it: fitspiration, thispiration, fitspo, thinspo.  (If you’re not familiar with this, search “motivation” on Pinterest).  There it all is.

First result for Google search: “fitness motivation women” Motivated?

Well, it all pisses me off (and not just me – here and there are some other viewpoints).

I personally am not motivated by these graphics (and if you are, more power to you!)  Instead I’m shamed into believing that I still haven’t reached that ideal body.  I’m not inspired to run another mile because after 20+ half marathons, I still don’t look like the body in the picture.  My focus shifts away from my health (physical, much less emotional and mental) and onto my appearance.

That is not motivation.

The photos normally don’t have a head attached to the body (objectifying the subject) – drawing the attention to very rounded and lifted glutes, flat abdominals and chiseled shoulders.  Hell, I’ve even seen super perky boobs as the focus and let me just tell you here, and you can quote me on this one: no amount of time in the gym can enhance your boobs!  

Just because you put the body in athletic wear and stamp a motivational quote over it doesn’t make it inspiring.

I asked some of my clients how they feel after seeing these images, and here are some responses:

I find most are not motivating and veer on thinspiration.  I think a lot of these graphics make women feel less than, and encourages disordered behavior.

They are not motivating to me, honestly.  Sometimes the words are motivating depending on the message.  There was a time I would have been obsessed with looking that way.

Here is what I hope motivates you:  Feeling good-mentally and physically.  Moving without pain.  Being outdoors.  Having confidence in yourself.  My stories of daily sweats.  An open road.  Exploring new trails.  Measurable progress in miles, speed, pushups or steps toward your goals.  Inspiring others.  (And I hope this post will spur some questions and thoughts in your mind about this industry, enough to get a conversation going with your fellow females).

And because of those hopes, here is my promise to you:  I promise to never post one of those graphics on a Motivation Monday blog.  Never post one of those graphics to a social media account.  When I do put photos up, they will be of me or a client celebrating an accomplishment or transformation.  And finally, I promise to never to hold you, my clients, my readers, my friends to that beauty/fitness ideal.

But I’m curious…do those photos motivate you?

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12 thoughts on “Motivation Monday: My Problem with Fitspiration

  1. I actually like the “You Don’t Get It…” one … haha. I think some don’t give the most realistic image, but most I look more at the quote … and I actually have probably a hundred that I do like. 🙂

    • Thanks for commenting! I usually do love the words, just wish they would come without the photos. The text is enough motivation for me – but if it works for you, use it!

  2. Yep, they are pretty much detrimental and from my 50+ years I have NEVER known this to be an achievable or realistic goal for 95% of REAL girls or women. Life throws curves and things change, but no matter what age working to do, be, live YOUR best will never be the wrong choice. I love your philosophy and commitment to help women achieve their best, and though we may not physically look like “those” women, you help us feel like we are that strong and beautiful and that changes lives! Thanks Jess

  3. I’ll be the first to admit, it got my attention….which is what ads are meant to do. Have you seen the photos/ads of shirtless, rock hard, six-pack, blemish-free men that women drool over? and the guys in Men’s Health mag? It goes both ways. I’m not those guys, but neither am I offended or threatened by them. So I still read the mag and get “lots of good stuff” from it……at the end of the day, people have to be self-motivated and use whatever tools work for them to achieve their own goal(s). Usually when it comes to fitness, it is a lot of hard work and self-discipline…..and currently I’m losing the battle, but my now tight jeans are my motivator because I refuse to go up a size!

    • You’re back! Thanks for commenting. This could be a gender bias but I feel it’s less demanded of men or less pushed on them to use their looks as a measure of self-worth. I also don’t think that men spend hours a day pinning those unattainable images to “Be Healthy” boards. Maybe a gender gap thing. Glad you’re motivated though!

  4. Sorry I have been “missing’…I really didn’t go anywhere, but I after you dropped RUNMEM I was no longer getting updates and didn’t realize your new blog/website was up and running…(I apparently didn’t connect the dots on FB…)….so I am catching up. But, I will say, I have the woman in the photo above to thank for catching my attention and getting me back to your website!!

  5. Inspiration comes to everyone in different ways! What it takes to inspire you to chase a dream, reach a goal, start or finish a project is different from what it takes others.

    These pictures, particularly of women my age, 50 do inspire me. Women give so much of themselves to so many in several avenues along life’s journey and to see women actually turn themselves into whatever else it is that they know they can be is inspiring.

    Think of it like this, do you want to read someone else’s post discounting the thing that it takes to inspire you?

    Don’t hate, lift up women for their achievements. Little girls all around the world are watching how we treat each other so respect whatever it is that inspires others and you may just be inspiring someone else just by doing that!

    God bless you in whatever you do and whatever inspires you

    • Thanks for your response! I’m glad they’re motivating to you. I didn’t mean for it to come across as hating, those women have certainly earned their bodies, and my respect. Was just opening up a conversation of how those images may be detrimental to some people’s mindsets and self-esteem and that it’s ok if they are. That you can find motivation elsewhere, and it’s ok if you don’t look like that, or aspire to.

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