I need to take a post here to vent on some of the posts and pictures I have been seeing all over the social media world lately. I guess not really lately because it’s been happening for a while, but I just am having so many problems with it. These inspirational and motivational pictures have been making their way around the web like wildfire. Images of women with less than 10% body fat, working their asses off, killing themselves with their workouts looking ripped out of their minds. Pictures of women showing themselves with 6 pack abs, hip bones protruding and minimal clothing have taken over. As a personal trainer in this industry I am torn by this ‘inspiration’ and ‘hard work pays off’ pictures that I see 23943 times a day. Each time a picture rolls into my view, I can’t help by wonder if we are not only contributing to a serious health issue-negative body image and eating disorders but also encouraging others to view their bodies as anything but perfect. With so many young people struggling as it is accepting their bodies, these images are adding fuel to the fire
I have been noticing an extreme focus on being lean, losing weight and achieving 6 pack abs and the most perfect body possible by ways of “fitness and health” motivation….I would hardly call some of the pictures that I have been seeing ‘motivation’ I know I have a healthy relationship with my body and with food. I have gone through ups and downs where I know I wasn’t my healthiest. I viewed food as ‘bad’ and wouldn’t dare eat certain foods with fear that I would have to hop on an elliptical the next day to burn it off. What I also know is many young women do not have a healthy relationship with their bodies or with food. All I think about when I look at pictures on instagram and Pinterest is their faces and their thoughts.
Since when did looking at pictures such as this become the ultimate body we are trying to achieve? Why must we shove this in the faces of (especially young women) with so much focus on extreme leanness and killing yourself with unhealthy habits and workouts that leave you unable to walk? Shouldn’t the point of working out to yes-work toward your goals but also to HAVE FUN and SMILE? Exercise should leave you feeling a little pooped, but overall feeling INVIGORATED.
When I see posts such as this about ‘weight loss commandments’ I am in shock. Commandments? Wow
My goal as a personal trainer, coach for Cathy Savage Fitness, mentor, friend, whatever you want to call me is to make my clients FEEL BETTER. MOVE BETTER. FEEL COMFORTABLE in their own skin. I am all about working toward change that will ultimately have the ability to have them lead healthy, long, fulfilling lives but I am also very concerned as of late with the growing number of pictures, ads and ease/access to social media use in selling and showing a negative side which will in turn have a negative impact on people-bringing them down and even more in trouble.
Encourage Friends, Clients and Loved ones on Their Strengths and Themselves!
I remember one time I received a new client. I always like to chat with someone before beginning an exercise program to get an idea of their goals, past history , etc. I remember she sat down and put a picture in my face of a model in a magazine and said “I want to look like this” as if I was some magician that could magically tun her into this model. I wanted to sit there and shake my head, tear the picture and walk away, but of course I wasn’t going to do that. Instead, I put aside the picture and spoke to her about her past exercise history, goals and training regimen. Basically–I didn’t even touch upon the picture. Ever.
I didn’t even let it cross my mind while talking to her knowing that this was the most ridiculous request on her part. I touched upon some genetics here and there regarding body types, but I also focused on what her strengths were when it came to exercise. She was a very regimented type “A” gal-meaning she was awesome at following a routine. This was a plus. She was a hard worker and willing to put in the work. She was willing to learn. She knew this would take time and that things don’t change overnight. It did take some persuading on my end to not have her focus on a number on the scale, but I knew we would touch upon that as we continued on.
I was so thrilled to take this client on after our conversation. When we finally were finished, we booked our first session and she walked away not even remembering to take the picture. Just by psyching her up and focusing on her strengths, knowing she was going to be successful, I got her mind off of that damn model. Then I threw it in the trash. The more you can focus on what you can DO regarding your workouts, such as learn a new exercise or hit a new PR, your self esteem and newly found physical and mental transformation will shine through.
The truth is that we all have a different ‘ideal body’
As inspirational as it can be to look at a picture of a girl with what most would see as a ‘great physique’ and have a goal to look like her is-it can also be said that not everyone actually wants to look like that. I truly hope that one day we, as an industry, can get away from this stigma that there is 1 ideal body image. I would love to try to get (women) especially to step back from the pictures and messages that we see everyday on social media, instagram and Facebook that could potentially promote more negative thoughts. Having a 6 pack or defined quads or ‘coconut shoulders’ does not define us as humans. Image is not directly related to our value or worth.
Not everyone wants the body of a Victoria’s Secret Model however this is the ideal that most of the women see and have in their minds as the ‘ideal’ Sure, some of these women are beautiful and work their tails off to look the way they do, but most of the women I know are stronger than you could imagine, work hard, eat right and still don’t feel ‘fit’ because they see those images as models as what they ‘need’ to attain to feel accepted. When you See a strong woman who is proud of her body, healthy, fit and happy–I think this should be regarded as the ultimate sexiest quality–not the latter which is the idea that you must be skinny and have washboard abs before anything else.
I posted this topic on my Facebook Page and received some great comments listed below:
- The ones that kill me are the tiny girls saying things like, “Do 5 push-ups, 5 jumping jacks, 5 squats and 50 sit-ups before every shower” lol. Annnnnnd what?!? I’ll look like that? No.
- I agree and am so over trying to get a perfect body! I workout because there are so many health benefits and because it makes me feel alive.
- I feel like it contributes to negative body image. Its like an acceptable form of anorexia bc they have muscles too and I used to personally believe these women maintained that look all the time when it’s not the case. When I was super lean, I couldn’t maintain normal body functions. It just wasn’t healthy for me.
- I find inspiration from the ones that show and tell their transformation & journey to health and fitness. But not from the ones that aren’t “healthy”.
- AGREED. Work out to FEEL good. Nothing else matters.
- Agreed – plus, no matter the degree of healthy vs unhealthy in the photos…the viewer/person looking for “inspiration” will NEVER look like that photo…because they are not that person. Every body is different. And every body will look different.
- Agreed-every body is different. Forget “do this and that to look like THIS.” How about “find YOUR strong and love the body you were blessed with?”
- I can’t stand Pinterest because of all those “inspirational” pictures. I also love to see “whittle your midsection with this workout” and it’s the same ab nonsense in every women’s magazine that just doesn’t do anything.
- I’m in my mid 30′s and had gained 20lbs over the past few years. I know I need to lose weight, but I’m trying focus on being healthier overall and not so much on the scale. I’m also focusing on enjoying life!
- Great topic! I don’t think its fair to say that it’s encouraging other to feel bad about themselves, just like beauty magazines aren’t the problem, and video games shouldn’t be blamed for violent children. In my opinion, its up to each person to view those sort of things for what they are (“fitspiration” or “thinspiration” may be a couple of my least favorite words) At the same time, however, I see those extreme sides and I feel bad for those people. I mean if thats what makes them happy, then rock on. But it makes me sad to think that they might not know that it doesn’t have to be that way. The American culture definitely pushes/promotes that ‘extreme’ is good, but hopefully and I think slowly that is changing. Like the glorification of the busy I think we’re moving toward realizing that extreme is also glorified. o the more positive voices like you, CSF the better!
- I totally agree with you, I think on one end its great motivation, but these people work hard and dedicate their lives to looking like that and have the resources and nutritional advice to do so, knowing what it takes is a long process and takes more then just lifting hard at the gym!
- I personally feel like people need to understand what HEALTHY is and know its more then just how skinny you are…being skinny isn’t always healthy. This is such a critical part if training… Clients quit because they aren’t looking like the models they see. For me, its motivation… For the next Person it may be what breaks them.
- And that’s why I work out with______ She doesn’t make any of us feel we don’t belong in her training class. She treats us all the same, no matter what our body type/size!
- Thank you for posting this! I couldn’t agree more!!!
- Best Post All week!
What do you think? Are you a fan of these ‘inspirational pictures’ or do you think they add fuel to the fire of negative body image? I would love to see some comments below on WHY YOU WORKOUT! Strength, motivation, fun, feel good, sweat, compete with yourself, do you have a goal? What is your reason for exercise?