‘Fitspiration’ and its impact on body image

Have you ever looked at images of ‘fitspiration’?

If so, did they leave you feeling inspired to live a ‘healthier’ lifestyle?

Or did they leave you feeling bad about your body?

If you felt the latter, you’re not alone.

According to recent research, looking at images of fitspiration may be harmful for mental health and bad for body image.

If you’re someone who regularly or even occasionally looks at fitspiration, in this post, I’m sharing four things you can do to make sure it doesn’t derail your body confidence.

Watch or read below:

Fitspiration – the answer to a healthier lifestyle?

If you haven’t come across the term fitspiration before, it’s the words fitness and inspiration combined.

Also called ‘fitspro’ for short, it’s an on-line trend aiming to inspire a healthy lifestyle by promoting exercise and healthy eating.

Typically, you’ll find fitspiration on social media in the form of images with stories, slogans or quotes.

Many of the images are of men and women with taut, toned and muscular bodies.  These are not dissimilar to the images of unattainable beauty that we’re used to seeing in fashion magazines and advertising.

Body image and fitspiration

Although fitspiration started out with a positive intention – to encourage us to care for our bodies, it is slowly revealing a less desirable impact.

Early research suggests that exposure to fitspiration may be bad for mental health.  In particular, some studies suggest that fitspro images may have a negative impact on body image.

While the research in this area is preliminary and the studies so far have been small, I still think it’s worth being mindful of the fitspro you’re paying attention to.

Guarding against the negative impact

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel motivated or inspired to be healthy.  BUT, I think there are things that you can do to guard against the negative impact of fitspro.

To help make sure that fitspiration doesn’t derail your body confidence, I’ve got four strategies for you to try:

Examine your motivation for looking at fitspro

Are you genuinely wanting some inspiration to help you reach your health goals?  Or are you using the images you see to beat yourself up? If you’re looking at fit, toned people and then punishing your body with crazy diets or exercise regimes to be like them, then fitspro is not having a healthy impact on your body image.

Ask how looking at fitspro makes you feel

Does it leave you feeling motivated to move your body and learn what your body can do? Or do you get a sense of not being ‘good enough’ or ‘unacceptable’ when you look at fitspro?  Let how you feel be your guide to whether fitspro is healthy for YOU.

Question who is generating the fitspro

Make sure that fitspro isn’t questionable marketing for a diet or fitness company. Posting images of impossible fitness is one way marketers make you feel bad about yourself so that you’ll buy their product or service.

Motivate yourself from within

Having a source of motivation from outside of yourself is all well and good when you can trust the integrity of that source.  However, you can’t guarantee that when you’re relying on others.

BUT, when you motivate yourself from within, you have control over what form that motivation takes.

Get clear on WHY you want to move your body more or eat nutrient rich foods.

List out all the benefits, steering clear of appearance related reasons.  For example, moving your body and eating nutritious foods can give you more energy, better stamina and mental health.  What can you do with more energy, stamina or better mental health?

Tune into what better health will allow you to do in your life, because that’s the best source of inspiration!

I’d love to know what you think about fitspro, and how it affects you and your body image.  Please leave a comment below.

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