#Fitspiration can be Harmful: How to Get Motivated While Honouring your Health

With nearly 19 million posts on Instagram and counting, #fitspiration has become a well-known social media hashtag. As a combination of the words “fit” and “inspiration,” this term was created to denote motivational pieces for those who are interested in pursuing healthy lifestyles.

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But can all this social buzz about low-carb diets and long workout regimes get obsessive? My view as someone who has personally struggled with body image is yes, it can be overwhelming. And I’m certainly not the only one who thinks this way. 

This Psychology Today article by Kathryn Stamoulis explores the findings from Leeds Beckett University’s research on the #fitspiration social media craze. The results? Sadly, most posts that feature this hashtag emphasize sexual ideals as the main point to working out, according to the article.

In my opinion, there’s really nothing wrong with wanting your sexual partners to feel attracted to you on a physical level. In fact, I’d even say it’s good to be considerate towards your partner’s preferences so long as you’re still staying true to yourself.

However, I believe the line is crossed when you start comparing yourself to people with different body types while labelling your own figure as lesser than. 

Labelling foods can also become problematic. Mentally classifying certain foods as either “good foods” or “bad foods” is the type of thinking that can eventually lead to disordered eating.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with needing some positive encouragement to stay fit every now and then. That’s why I’ve put together the following list of motivational tips that can boost your desire to make healthy choices, all while focussing on what’s best for you and your unique body type!

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  1. 1.  Learn about how staying active can lift your mood

    This Harvard Health article alludes to a study by JAMA Psychiatry that was published on Jan. 23, 2019. The study shows that doing something as simple as running for 15 minutes per day can reduce your chances of getting major depression. Physical activity is also known for reducing stress and anxiety.

  2. 2. Try a workout that doesn’t feel like a workout

    Go to a new workout class with a friend or try something that doesn’t seem dreadful. Dance classes, Zumba, yoga, walks in scenic areas and playing some of your favourite sports may be more enjoyable than spending an hour at the gym.

  3. 3. Take it easy! Remember that small efforts add up

    Even if you only have 10-20 minutes to spare, remember that short workouts can really make a difference over a longer period of time. If you exercise just 10 minutes a day for 30 days, that’s 300 minutes of physical activity in a month. It sounds like a lot when you think about it that way! So try telling yourself that any amount of time you have to offer outside or at the gym is acceptable and avoid mentally shaming yourself for prioritizing other commitments.

  4. 4. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself every now and then

    You should bear in mind that on busy and active days, you will likely be hungrier. And that’s normal! So rather than resisting the urge to indulge in more carbs than usual, try thinking about how your body needs those extra calories to keep going. It’s all part of staying balanced!

  5. 5. Rather than spending hours doing meal prep, consider snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables more often

    Although it sounds like a fun thing to try every once in a while, many of us don’t have the time to explore complex recipes. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of healthy eating. Regularly snacking on different kinds of fruits and vegetables will give your diet some variety and it’s so easy. All it takes is a trip to the grocery store, a quick wash and you’re done. Just make sure to balance these snacks out with other food groups throughout your day.

I believe it’s especially important to note that the main goal in working out should be benefiting our own health, not fitting in a smaller size or looking more like a specific model in a bikini photo. Healthy can look like all sorts of unique figures; there’s no one-size fits all approach when it comes to this personal topic! With that in mind, I wish you the best of luck with finding lifestyle practices that suit you as an individual.