We all love a bit of #fitspo.
The tanned skin, the bright Nikes, booty shorts and colourful crops. It’s all very alluring and sexy. However, is it damaging our self-confidence?
As a coach, trainer and owner of a women’s gym I am extremely concerned about some of the fitness inspiration that seems to be trolling the internet.
When I see a model – i.e. someone genetically blessed with a flat stomach, ectomorphic figure (this means naturally slender with small bones and small frame), tall, flaunting their figure saying ‘be like me I workout all the time and eat clean’, it’s quite concerning.
It may be the case that these girls workout, eat clean, whatever but many of them are just lucky and genetically blessed. That’s why they are models.
These girls are not going to be able to squat 110kg, do 20 strict pull-ups or a muscle up. I don’t see any videos of them doing that so when someone who has a slender figure posts something like that then you’ll get my attention. Actions speak louder than, in this case, a pretty picture.
It’s a very different ball game when you’re not naturally slender, tall or the same body type. There is no way to achieve that same look even with the perfect clean diet and exercise regime. It’s still a standard of beauty that many girls aim for, which is essentially un-obtainable.
As a CrossFitter, I spend a fair amount of time working on my body. I mobilize (make sure my joints are in working order so I can move well) and stretch, build strength, do endurance and high intensity workouts. If I have a weakness, I work on strengthening that.
I also eat really well – far better than most people I know. Why do I do this? To fuel my body for the workouts I do. Some of the instagram/facebook picture of toast with PEANUTF*#%INGBUTTER and banana (to make it look healthy) are NOT HEALTHY! If you have read what is in a jar of peanut butter you would know why. If you are trying to lose body fat you will know why bananas are maybe not the best for you to eat and then coupled with bread…. Seriously?
Ok so maybe I’m not like the rest of the population who love their bread. I get it, to most people it’s amazing. But it will not make you healthy and it certainly won’t make you look like the #fitspo models you are aspiring to.
And that’s exactly the problem. What the #fitspo girls advocate sometimes can be good i.e. get out of bed to workout or eat clean (bread and peanut butter would not constitute clean eating). But mainly they are still advocating an impossible standard of beauty, which a very small percentage of the population could actually achieve.
Using me as an example, on my recent DEXA scan (the most accurate way to measure a body’s fat percentage) my body fat reading was 15.99%. For a woman this puts me at the low end of the athletic category.
Now looking at a picture of my beautiful sister (left), and me (right) who would you say has the lower body fat percentage?
Who did you guess?
In fact my sister (left) has a slightly higher percentage than me, at 16.87%. We have completely different body shapes with different muscle fibres, skeletal outline, heights and muscle mass! Was this a shock? I know I am thicker than she is as I have more muscle, less visceral fat and denser bones but body fat % wise, I have less.
My point is, I can only lose 1kg of body fat before it become dangerous for me. So I won’t be looking like these #fitspo chicks anytime soon. My body type simply doesn’t allow it. I have a butt, hips, broad shoulders and back. What’s more I’m perfectly ok with this. My body took a lot of dedication, eating the right foods to fuel my body, and working hard in the gym, to achieve these results. I love that my body showcases my efforts.
It’s all very well to get caught up in the oohhh shes sexy, hot, fispo etc. But at what cost to your own self-confidence, body and helath? Phsycologists are now saying that the #fitspo look can be just as damaging as the heroine chic model one.
At the end of the day, you have to live with the body your genetics gave you. You need to be happy with the person you are and comfortable in your body.
If you workout, make sure you workout smart – i.e. get the most out of your workout for the time you put in. If you eat, eat healthy whole foods, which makes your body happy and feel good – no processed crap like peanut butter.
Take away the pressure from these #fitspo images, and focus on being healthy, getting stronger and making yourself the best version of you you can be. Achieve something tangible like reaching healthy eating goals or getting a new personal best in the gym – Why? Because these are realistic achievements that will allow you to start to realise your worth and build your self confidence creating a much happier person because of it.
What to take away:
All body shapes are different, each one is as beautiful as the next
Don’t let #fitspo decrease your self esteem, focus on what you can do for your body which supports health and vitality
Learn to enjoy what you can do with your body, it’s the only one you’ve got so go out move – its what your body is made for!
Peanut butter is very bad for you. I don’t know how it constitutes as clean eating on #fitspo.
Elle Belle x
Head Coach and Owner
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About the Author
Elle has a passion for women's fitness and helping girls improve their self-image through fitness. Her vision is to create a CrossFit gym, which allows women to learn how to move, build their strength, learn to be healthy and gain respect for their bodies showing them how amazing they really are! Find out more