Fitspo: Is Strong the New Skinny?

Today I read an interesting opinion piece on Health.com about the increase in “Fitspo” pictures on Pinterest. You know, the pictures of super-duper buff ladies rocking six-packs and tough love slogans about hard work and ass-kicking in the gym.

Pictures like these…

Err…I’m infinity months away from that.

The article is interesting reading, but if you’re lazy and don’t want to click through I’ll sum it up here: While meant to be inspiring, perhaps this new “fitspo” phenomenon is just as damaging to our self-worth as the Kate Moss-y slogans like “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” that were so popular a fw years back. Is the pressure to be super fit just as bad for women as the pressure to be super thin? Is this the same unhealthy mindset, different body type to obsess over?

My thoughts are mixed. I feel like I am forever trying to find a middle ground between self-acceptance and self-improvement. Sometimes for self-improvement a little hard-truth-telling is necessary as is a little reach-for-the-stars motivation. On the other hand, I eat relatively clean, I work out hard, and I’m still a wee bit more “fleshy” than I’d like—but I don’t think a healthy lifestyle means never eating out, never indulging, or enjoying a glass of wine or two on special occasions. Defined abs are not the only part of a life that matters.

That doesn’t make me want them any less.

See the mixed feelings?

I do find many of these photos (not necessarily the ones I’ve posted above, but other pictures of strong women lifting heavy and pushing themselves hard) inspiring. I am always trying to improve my body, my mind, my habits, and my relationships. Life, at least to me, is about growing.

In regard to this fitness based phenomenon, there is a difference between inspiration and torture. Many of these “You could be hot if only you tried harder, lifted heavier, and wore more Lululemon” pictures can seem like unattainable standards of fitness that most of us won’t ever achieve. Having said that, I’m not sure images of someone like myself, huffing, puffing, and sweating like a pig in the gym would be quite as motivating.

I will say this, my body goals today are the same now as they were before Pinterest ever existed. I want to be strong and healthy and comfortable in my skin.

Where do you stand on “fitspo”? Are these pictures motivating or just one more unattainable standard women are expected to live up to?

Breakfast


Raisin bran with reduced fat milk
Hard-boiled eggs
Coffee

Post-Workout
I didn’t take a picture of this, but I ate half a chocolate protein muffin and drank half a protein shake post strength training, and had the other halves after I finished cardio.

Lunch

Vegetable soup and scrambled egg whites with salsa

Dinner


Our apartment is still in flux as we prepare to move stuff to the storage unit. We set up a free-for-all coffee table dinner of tofurky, low-carb whole wheat tortillas, tabouli salad, chick pea salad, and vegetable soup. We snacked as we cleaned the living room and watched the Presidential debate.

Exercise:

A-Day strength: Shoulders, Chest, Triceps, and Abs
Cardio: 45-minutes interval training on the elliptical machine

  1. while they’ve chosen some extreme photos to use, I think that “stronger’ is certainly more attainable for some than “thinner”. Some people (like myself) won’t ever make it to thin, but we can all get a little stronger.

  2. I think those pictures are of skinny women who’s musculature shows because they have 0% (or thereabouts) body fat. I think they present a doubly bad image for the general public to try to attain. Personally, I don’t think skinny is pretty. Healthy and strong is ideal.

  3. I always feel torn too. I applaud women who want that, work hard, and get it, but I don’t feel like I have to have it. I want to be healthy. I know people who have muscle definition because they work out faithfully, but they eat CRAP. I’m opposite. I eat pretty darn well, and I exercise enough for me (4x/week). I don’t spend two hours at the gym. I don’t count calories. I’m just trying to achieve balance, I guess. So my thoughts on Fitspo are that I’m not rah-rah about it, and I’m not against it. I’m in that grey area somewhere. 🙂

  4. That girl in the last picture kind of terrifies me. I’m an infinity months away from that too, and I am ok with that. She’s a beautiful girl but man, that is too skinny for me. Also, I agree with pretty much everything you said in this. I feel the same way.

  5. I just stumbled across this post–I really like the points you make and the feelings you express. Personally, “fitspo” works for me. Ads like UnderArmour’s “What’s Beautiful” campaign could certainly be seen as fitspo and for me, those slogans about pushing harder and wanting more motivate me. That said, I don’t look at a picture of a girl with rockin’ abs and make that my goal. So I guess I walk a line with it.