Why I hate fitspiration.

Im married to a onetime trademark/copyright attorney.  If I werent featured below would be an example of a FITSPO photo Ive seen for those who may not know to what Im referring.  Alas, Im going the boring definition route which is guaranteed not to get my misfita** sued.


Fitspo—or fitspiration—is a relatively new term used to describe something (typically images) intended to inspire others to eat healthy and exercise.

Basically it’s an image of an uber-buff or razor-thin individual (for the purposes of this post a female) with a motivational quote splashed across her.

photo 63 225x300 Why I hate fitspiration.

(kinda like this)

  • We (the royal) wont be surprised to learn Im not a FITSPO fan.

At all.

Each time I see these pictures fly past in my facebook feed (and they do. a lot. apparently Im in the DISLIKE! minority.) I think:

I ‘get’ women believe this to be a lunge in the proper direction as FITSPO rarely shouts BE SKINNY!  To me, however, it’s BElittling of those who dont yet resemble the images.

(I told you this blog was a play on MISFIT not Miss. Fit.)

Im completely not a FITSPO-fan & here are my three reasons why:

  • It doesnt motivate me.  I appreciate the buff  of the woman with I REGRET THAT WORKOUT—said no one ever!! emblazoned across her 6-pack.  She’s just not me.  Shes not a crazy 44 year old mother with a husband who works a lot, a crazy Tornado of a girl,  a canine still semi-tethered to her & 13 bosses because she’s a freelancer.  Im happy for her & her chiseled success–but seeing her wont motivate me to exercise any more than seeing these amazing images inspire me to make dinner.


  • FITSPO is frighteningly close to PRO-ANA* draped in muscled clothing.  The same way pro-ana sites feed off female insecurity FITSPO seems to only ‘succeeds’ if what I currently am is not enough. I am enough. Confidence & empowerment can be found in all shaped and sizes & one is not more “OK” than another.  For me *all* emphasis on bodiesfit, skinny, curvy, BUFF, emaciated, whatever–is emphasis on the VESSEL not the woman inside.  Im far more interested in the woman inside.


  • It’s an illusion.  As with all advertising/promotional images there exists little reality in FITSPO.  Yes it may really be Woman Y, but it’s most likely Woman Y on the day of a competition: dieted, tanned, dehydrated & carb-depleted.  It’s a fleeting moment in Woman Y’s life.  In addition, for my misfit tastes, FITSPO employs sexiness/sex appeal all too frequently. To my eyes FITSPO doesnt shout health! or long-term happiness!, but is simply a snapshot of ONE ephemeral moment in time.
27282 10151599025714466 1743397953 n 300x300 Why I hate fitspiration.

competition day. not EVERY day.

Ive let this post languish in drafts for a while because so many women *I* adore also adore them some fitspiration.

I really do wonder if it’s just me who finds these images not motivating and sort of irksome.

Ive been around long enough to realize my way isnt everyone’s way.

So now I look to you (as really images of *you* doing your fitness-thing I always find both inspiring and motivational):



  • Do FITSPO images motivate you?  If not—where do *you* turn for workout inspiration?





*Back in my traditional media days I wrote a newspaper article on the proliferation of PRO-ANA websites.  Im deliberately choosing not to link any of them here–suffice it to say they were simultaneously terrifying and heart breaking.


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  1. says

    I agree with you. I have had to block some friends feeds due to this and/or thier constant selling of fast weightloss products. For me, it’s triggering.

    That’s why, for me, I post the running mascara, post run sweat with mis-matched athletic clothes from six years ago, frayed sports bras. Because..that’s what we look like. Bar the woman who I saw with fake boobs, fake tan, and gold earrings running with a tube top on…once. We’re women and men in old sweatshirts and the occasional expensive workout outfit we treated ourselves to.

    So bring on the runny mascara, snot ladden, post-workout photos. The ones with the college t-shirts, old running shoes, and your husbands t-shirt. That’s reality.

    • greybird says

      Shrug. It’s *your* reality. But that’s part of the point, right? There’s no ONE version of fit or feminine or powerful or successful or happy.

      I’m one of those women who workout in earrings and makeup. I didn’t used to do that—-I used to dress in old tshirts. But when I dressed that way, I didn’t feel like myself and didn’t feel as good about being me. I have cystic acne, and I didn’t like staring into the mirror at the very flaws I criticize myself for. One day I just realized that rather than wishing the squat rack weren’t in front of a mirror, I could just dress in a way that made me feel good. So, now I do.

      I’m happier for it. The way I dress isn’t about being sexier than other people at the gym. It’s not about competing. It’s about trying to dress so that the way I look matches how I feel inside. When I’m lifting weights, I feel more feminine and powerful than at any other time in my life.

      I put on eye shadow and earrings because going to the gym is a date with myself. :)

      • Brooke29 says


        Fitspo images do inspire me because every one of those fit women have their own story. They may also work full time, have children to care for, homes to tend to. They didn’t just wake up one morning with a 6 pack. They worked for it too. They said no to cupcakes just like I have to. They have to get up and workout when they wanna hit snooze. They are still human and have also put in the work.

      • Miz says

        I emailed you privately and have to say here, too, I applaud your last sentence. Bravo!

  2. says

    That’s exactly how I feel. Those pictures are so fake and photoshopped in the first place. Plus exercise isn’t just about getting an impossibly perfect body. It is also about doing something fun that you just love to do and find joy in doing.

  3. says

    I moved my blogs over to tumblr a bit ago and the fitspo is flying all over the place there. I ignore it as best I can sticking with liking the progress pictures of the folks I follow … or, even better, just sticking with the fandom folks who post funny pictures from Doctor Who and Supernatural and the sort.

  4. says

    Hmm I used to love fitspo, but not for the skinny skinny girls but for the words that were usually motivational. I usually refrained from anything mentioning “skinny”. Now I get why those images can’t be promoted and I stopped with the fitspo. I do love a great motivational quote, just not on top of an airbrushed tanned size zero.

  5. says

    Great points, here, and ones I never considered before, especially the pro-ana angle. When I think on it, there’s something inherently western culture to seek that which isn’t real and everyday. Admiration of Hollywood lives (and looks) is another example, here. When we strive for that which isn’t authentic, we miss out on that which is.

  6. says

    I haven’t been a fitspo fan for a long time, for the reasons you cite here. Besides, I’ve found that I tend to be less interested in fitness for fitness’ sake – particularly when it’s aimed at achieving a specific aesthetic ideal – and more interested in fitness as it is applied to something else (in my case, athletics). Consequently I am way more inspired by seeing and hearing about female athletes that I admire than I am by looking at figure models in bikinis.

    BTW not trying to pit one group of women against the other. I’m just stating my personal preference.

  7. Jane says

    I never really think of them as “fitspo” but I guess they are. I like running inspired ones, but strangely I don’t really “see” the models, I love to run and do so in all kinds of crazy, weather, timing, distance whatever I tend to see the written phrase and not the image.

  8. says

    Not a fan – at all. I think they set unrealistic standards and emphasis the wrong things (like strong being sexy, instead of strong being strong.) If they’ve ever motivated me in the past they’ve done so in a negative way.

  9. says

    I find it very unhealthy for me and I try to click away asap. A while ago I realized that even the models used in fitness magazines to illustrates workouts were discouraging me instead of inspiring. Since my short, muscular frame will never look long and lean like the model, I can’t even imagine myself trying the same exercises. On the other hand, I do like the “real” workout pictures that people share — because usually they are not pretty but often they are beautiful.

  10. says

    I SO 100% agree with you. And I’m really happy to see a post like this, especially from someone who has a ‘been there done that’ way of looking at the fitness competition lifestyle.

    I will say that I think it is an amazing feat to be able to achieve fitness competition ‘status’ (for lack of better description). It is not something I have the self control to do. However, it is not something that I wish for myself. It doesn’t fit ME. My personality or lifestyle. I think many people don’t realize how much work it actually takes. I have been eating healthy and staying active for almost 2 years. I do not have a six pack.

    I would also just like to say that I admire your views on health and fitness. That you follow a ‘NEAT’ approach to fitness. It is what I hope to be able to help others realize as well, that you can find fitness in so many other ways than spending countless hours at the gym. You rock!

  11. Nettie says

    Thank you, Miz.
    I could not phrase in my head ever what you say.
    FITSPO only works if I am currently not enough.

  12. says

    I admit it does motivate me. :-)

    I’ve been wanting to have a t-shirt made for my races, that would say “I’m asthmatic. Watch me go” because I’m so proud of running in spite of it! Maybe it would motivate other asthmatics?

  13. says

    i like how you said itz an illusion. i like motivating pictures, but that being said i like REAL pictures! if you’re super sweaty after your workout and you post a picture – cool. don’t tell me it’s your fat crying though because well.. itz not. lol

  14. says

    I like fitspiration in the words-only, or silly e-card form. I find that the words motivate me, the real-life picture of someone I’ll probably never look like does not.
    I’m 5 feet tall, not long and lean, and unless someone takes a scalpel to the excess skin on my midsection, I’ll never see my 6 pack abs that I’m SURE are in there, somewhere.
    But the words? They do motivate me to push harder, be stronger and set a healthy example for my little ladies.

  15. says

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I do have a fitness motivation board which does include some fitspo pics. I do agree with everything you’ve said here and I do think we need to learn to accept ourselves right now, as is in this very moment because we may not get another one. I’m going to try to step back from the fitspo pics and try to focus more on other things that are far more important. Thanks for the reality check in your blog!

  16. Andrea says

    I sort of agree with you. The pics with the models that have the bodies I can never achieve do nothing for me, I scroll right past them, not even bothering to read what they say. However, I do find inspiration (and will share) photos with real people, or beautiful settings (i.e. the beach) that have sayings or quotes that mean something to me. So, like with anything else on facebook I do a lot of scrolling past stuff and just focus on what’s important to me, not what’s important to someone else.

  17. says

    they do not motivate me. I don’t even like the word, although i am guilty of using it maybe once. ack! I feel like it’s great to track progress and encourage each other. But sometimes the fitspo images feed something else. a focus on weight and image, not health.

  18. says

    You hit the nail(s) RIGHT on the head and I’m so glad you posted this. I’m all about inspiration and whatnot, but showing me pictures with people and words splashed all across them is NOT the way to do it. Regardless of if it’s fit/skinny/fat/purple polka-dotted, I feel like those images are something that people will lust after. And that is just not cool with me. Inspiration, to me, should never be to look like somebody else. Even if they’re healthy. This whole journey is always about you. And when people take it outside of themselves and onto an image, it loses a lot of gusto for me.

    I might have just spewed thoughts all over your comments. Sorry if this doesn’t make any sense!

  19. says

    and there is no short cut – so sometimes people need to truth that they just have to focus and work hard to be healthy – THEIR healthy, no one else’s

  20. says

    Used to be a fan, now I’m not. I think it changed when I finally realized that it’s not the reality for most people {aka ME}!
    I am more inspired by my real friends {IRL & bloggers alike) when I see that they have been working out or eating well, or taking time to be healthy.

  21. says

    I can see your point. I do occasionally share these types of pictures on Skinny Dreaming’s Facebook page, usually when I like the saying going along with it. The images themselves are never my inspiration for sharing them. But I do agree that many of the pictures are realistic representations of the average, everyday person. I love your statement, “I am enough.” Not enough women ever feel this way and we should. (I actually prefer the ones with sayings that have a nice scenic picture in the background instead of a model or athlete of some sort.)

  22. says

    I am not a fan of fitspo at all. Photoshop is a wonderful tool and can make anyone look a thousand time better. Just look at some of the beloved celebrities before and after pictures. At time it is hard to recognize the after pictures. I gain motivation from the people who work hard every day at the gym. They will never be huge or on the cover of magazines but they are hard working and do it constantly.

  23. says

    I find some of them motivational and some of them not. For me, it really depends on the exact image being used etc. Most of the time it’s the WORDS not the photo that really get me going!

    However, I do agree with all your points :)

  24. says

    Yes! I don ‘t love them either and even more so, I don’t like a lot of the new phrases that accompany them. I hate the “Strong is the new skinny” one in particular. Strong is bad ass– there is no need to give skinny more glory. And totally agree on the pro-ana thing. There are some fine lines being walked here.

  25. says

    I don’t like the chiseled body ones that seem to shame me sometimes, but I DO love me some quote action splashed on things like inspiring backgrounds or sneakers or generic legs, things like that. I LOVE LOVE LOVE quotes. My own, from others, from where ever they come, words inspire me. I keep words around me all the time.

  26. Runner Girl says

    I’ve considered this a lot after reading and you have hit it for me too.
    I do feel less than enough after gazing longingly at these images.

  27. says

    As long as the fitspiration is motivational about being healthy I don’t mind.

    I have used them for my own inspiration and made a collage of them but all motivating, not about being skinny for example.

    However I have to be honest and had to google fitspiration first and then I came across #stopfitspiration and have to admit I like that more. That’s about a healthy body no matter how that body looks.

  28. says

    I have mized feelings… I do get inspired by people’s progreess and my fvorite athletes, but I think the term “fitspo” has negative connotations and defnitely has been used to promote EDs. So I guess my “fitso” idea is old fashioned: having people to look up to and be inspired by. Like when I was 12 and had a posters of the my favorite baseball players on my well. :)

  29. says

    As always, I love your pure honesty and insightfulness. I’m not a fan of these images either. i thought I was once upon a time. Then I realized they are glaring images of women I am not going to become. And don’t want to be either really. Yes, I’d love to be super buff, but at what cost? I guess the one thing I do appreciate is that it’s finally promoting weight lifting for women. And honestly, I HATE that one blurb about the no one ever hating a workout. Sorry, I have before. Flat out hated it, worst hour ever kind of thing.

  30. says

    LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was not always with you but I have been with you for a while now.. I think it adds to the pressure on women to look a certain way & honestly a way that 99% can live up to or even achieve unless you have the best genetics & want to eat pre bodybuilding or fitness contest eating.. not to mention the photoshopping…

    Thank you for this! I post pics of me with my head cut off but I am not even what people want to look like – I am too muscular many say – plus I just hope to encourage older people not to give up & I do say I have been at what I do 30+ years & I work way too hard at it! ;)

  31. says

    I think this is why when I take the rare “gym selfie” I always make a face, and never hide the fact that I’m a freaking hot mess after a run.

    When I was heavy, I used to see both thinspo and fitspo and think “I’ll just never measure-up to that” and then head to the nearest place to have a chat with some fries about my feelings.

    Lately, my IG feed has shown a RIDIC amount of women posting things like body fat % and “ways to get abs” and it scares me.

    It’s a fine, fine line.

  32. says

    I appreciate your post! I definitely understand where you are coming from, and I feel like that some days. HOWEVER, I am a huuuuuuuge sucker for quotes. I typically post genuinely only for the quote! My favorite “fitspo” images are of my CHAARG girls – REAL images of REAL girls I see everyday who are doing awesome things. I also love Nike + Lorna Jane fitspo images. Nike’s consists of athletes I admire, and Lorna Jane’s look like fit, normal women. I appreciate both!

  33. says

    So flippin’ happy that you hit ‘publish’ on this post.
    You know where I stand on the topic (and I’ve been known to ‘unlike’ FB peeps who keep filling my feed with these pics)

  34. says

    I don’t mind the positive messages featuring a HEALTHY body – but yeah, it sits a little too close to Pro-Ana for me and skeeves me out. I just continuously think (and stress out) of my daughter and what these messages would be sending to her, especially through her teenage years and most of the time – it’s not good.

  35. says

    I used to look through Pinterest all the time for fitness inspiration, but then I had to stop because I was getting depressed looking at bodies I couldn’t achieve. I even stopped reading Oxygen for a while because I needed a media break from feeling bad about myself.

    Fitspo images can be so elitist and give people the impression that they aren’t working out the “right” way (like “it’s not a workout unless you look hideous when you’re done!”). People get turned off to fitness when fit people get elitist and tell others their workouts don’t measure up.

  36. says

    I guess I’m neutral on fitspo: neither motivated nor irked. But I am irked by the obsession with Hollywood’s focus on looks and that’s the same thing really. We all have our warts and off days/weeks/years. Anyone who thinks otherwise is way off.

  37. says

    I look at horses for inspiration. In a gym I owned in the mid-80s, the only pictures on the wall were of horses. My members LOVED that.

    This way, they had inspiration, but nothing to compare themselves to…

  38. says

    I love the images of a healthy body and I LOVE inspirational quotes — and I’m guilty of posting my sweaty face after a hot run all over instagram. But when I see really chiseled or thin people, I definitely feel uneasy. You made some really excellent points — thanks so much for sharing!

  39. says

    Hmmm.. I neither like or dislike…they are what they are..
    just like pics of food or beautiful ocean scenery with inspiring quotes…

    For me…moving into I am enough was learning not to respond in a self defeating way when visual or verbal cues trigger emotions that use to send me to food for relief.

    Society and Marketing will always be based in visuals….it is our personal responsibility to learn to take what we need and leave the rest to those that are inspired by it and THAT is what we need to teach our daughters…..

    • says

      my meals NEVER turn out like the ones on pintrest or FOODTV.
      but i look to them for meal inspiration.
      yes, the foods presented might be plastic versions of the real food, lovingly sprayed with water or oil so that they shine. fantatic lighting used, high end cameras, etc. heck, probably even some photoshopping.
      while i understand that pictures of competitors (as shown above) are on comp day, they still inspire me as to what is POSSIBLE. if the picture of her was 2 months post comp with ‘average’ body fat, i would be less inspired. that’s me NOW. i want to be challenged, to be inspired to be MORE, to be BETTER. to never get complacent and say, “I am enough.” the minute i say that, i begin to die.
      i enjoy the pictures of uber-fit people at competition weight/composition, etc.

  40. Rachel says

    Oh, Miz. Thanks for piping up about this. I’ve gone through many a phase where I spent time looking at photos like that and longing to have “that” body, “that” motivation, “that” self control and work ethic. Even though I’m now more focused on practicing yoga than “working out,” it’s still easy to be drawn into a photo of someone else’s body practicing an advanced posture that isn’t a part of my practice and might never be. And while sometimes I enjoy one of those photos for the fact that it celebrates an individual body’s unique beauty and grace, it’s all to easy to start feeling that all-too-familiar need to STRIVE…because somehow I’m not enough as I am. And striving, for me, has been an unhealthy part of many many years of mental health issues including depression and a binge eating disorder.

  41. says

    My gigantic non athletic bewbs and squatty non yoga legs agree with you. Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

  42. says

    I agree with you. I do NOT like seeing ‘sexy’ half naked women with unattainable bodies splashed across my fb/pinterest feed. That does NOT motivate me for healthy living… if anything it motivates me to grab a bag of cheetos! ;)

    However, I DO like the quotes ON those images. I often find fitspiration images with just the quotes VERY motivating. ;)

  43. says

    Yes! I am with you. I do not like the fitspo images either. I don’t think they’re inspiring; in fact I find them limited and homogenous. Strong is action. Strong is how many pounds you lift at the gym or miles you run each morning. It is not how well your abs appear to ripple under perfect lighting.

  44. says

    This post is 100% on point! I especially appreciate your final thought– these ‘fitspo photos’ are taken at the peak of competition and do not represent the daily physique of any woman…..or an image that is either legitimately healthy or maintainable!

  45. says

    For me it depends. I like the quotes more than the images, and can take them without a photo and prefer them that way. If the message is inspirational and it’s someone fit doing something active I’m OK with it, but a lot of it is really just fitness-treated pro-anna photos and it can really give you an impossible goal to strive for. It took me a while to realize that most of those images are either photoshopped or of someone in peak condition…which I have been but am now not, but am totally OK with, because Im happy and strong…and know it’s severely hard work to remain that way and just not necessarily possible. I’ve got enough in my head to keep me occupied, and tune the images out most days. To me, strong is what you can do, not how perky or overly muscly skinny you look in a photo :).

  46. says

    For me, personally, I LOVE the quotes. They motivate me or make me chuckle. It is the sexified picture of the woman behind the quote that turns me off. I’ve unfollowed a lot of “fitness” pages on facebook and pinterest because there is so much fitspo. Same with instagram photos – I’ve unfollowed some people because there “fit” pixs look a lot like “adult magazine”. I don’t need to see your cleavage in every picture because you’re “getting fit”.
    I know, I sound like a grandma! :)

  47. says

    I’m not really inspired by fitspiration either! There are plenty of people who don’t understand my “obsession” with fitness – they think it has to do with weight loss or looking a certain way. For me, it has never been about weight!! I just love the feeling of completing a tough workout and feeling stronger than ever or knowing that I can run fast. Fitness to me is a personal quest to keep being the best I can be and has zero to do with appearance!!!

  48. says

    I hate them. I appreciate how you laid out why you don’t like them. People retweeting and sharing “motivational” crap just annoys me. If you like it great. If I wanted to follow that stuff I would, don’t shove it in my face. I find your comparison to Pro-Ana really interesting and it’s not something I had thought of before, but makes sense.

  49. Deb Roby says

    For a very short period of time, I kind of like some of the fitspo pictures. Then I thought about it:

    1. these pictures are professional fitness models. (They go through the same routine as competitors do, but they do the dehydration/carb avoidance thing for every shoot!

    2. Everything focuses on the abs. Honestly who cares?

    3. The pictures dehumanize women. Too often, their faces are cut off, or cut in half. Their bodies are chopped into the frame like pieces of meat.

    Now, I ignore them. But, hey, I’m not the target audience! Those are aimed at the teens and 20 somethings who are getting their minds totally screwed up by adoring them.

    And, for the life of me, I don’t see a way to rescue them.

  50. Matthew says

    I have seen how these so called motivating pictures drive my wife to disordered living. DISLIKE.

  51. says

    i posted this above in response to another’s comment, but wanted to repost it here, too….you know, ’cause that’s how i roll…

    my meals NEVER turn out like the ones on pintrest or FOODTV.
    but i look to them for meal inspiration.
    yes, the foods presented might be plastic versions of the real food, lovingly sprayed with water or oil so that they shine. fantatic lighting used, high end cameras, etc. heck, probably even some photoshopping.
    while i understand that pictures of competitors (as shown above) are on comp day, they still inspire me as to what is POSSIBLE. if the picture of her was 2 months post comp with ‘average’ body fat, i would be less inspired. that’s me NOW. i want to be challenged, to be inspired to be MORE, to be BETTER. to never get complacent and say, “I am enough.” the minute i say that, i begin to die.
    i enjoy the pictures of uber-fit people at competition weight/composition, etc.

  52. says

    Great post, Carla… I do agree with you. I think it’s not your average person and sets an unrealistic expectation for many people, including myself! I look at the definition I want and the leanness I’d like and after a bit of browsing feel “less than.” For that reason and the fact that so many women are wired differently than those models (including my 5’2″ self!), I’m with you on this one. ;) Thanks for sharing this despite it being in your drafts for a while!

  53. says

    I always take the stand of “to each their own”. I know what inspires me (UN-Photoshopped pictures for one) and what works to motivate me. Not what works for everyone. I think you should show the same image to 10 different people and get 10 different opinions on it. There will always be those that find the positive and those that find the negative. Our minds process imagery in direct relation to what we strive for in ourselves. It can be motivating to some, detrimental to others. Sadly, to do away with detriment would mean doing away with all forms of social media.

    Thank you for posting. This is a discussion that needs to be had :) XOXO

  54. says

    Everybody else has already commented on the double-edged nature of the images, so I’d like to hit two other problems with a lot of Fitspo (or whatever it’s called).

    1.) Beside the ‘skinniness’ or overtly sexual nature of the images, I also worry about the projected skin tone of (caucasian) models in the images. Leaving a toned, fat-free corpse behind due to malignant melanoma ain’t healthy either people.
    2.) The messages often tend toward black & white absolutes in a kind of dogmatic No Pain No Gain way… you can regret a workout in which your safety gets compromised.

  55. says

    Totally agree with you! Thanks for confronting this! To answer your question, no, FITSPO don’t motivate me at all. In fact, they mostly just make me feel more bad about myself more than anything! I find inspiration from digging within myself, challenging myself, setting goals for myself, and reminding myself WHY I love fitness.

  56. Hanan says

    I think most of them look unrealistic to those of us that are overweight. For me, I’ve never been skinny or looked like that, so I could never imagine myself like those photos. I think if maybe they started to slap on inspirational things on images of more women that are fit, but not necessarily skinny, it would be better. My friends over at Fitspiration For Moms, do a pretty good job at that!

  57. says

    I can take them or leave them (and find my own inspiration elsewhere). In the case of “…frighteningly close to PRO-ANA* draped in muscled clothing” and if it is someone I personally know? that bothers me, because this is someone with a following and the fine line becomes a dangerous place where others look up to that unhealthy ideal.

    many people can use these images as inspiration and do their own thing, others turn it into an obsession and it enters all areas of their life. that’s not good with fitness or anything.

    thanks for another fantastic discussion, MizFriend.

  58. says

    From a male perspective:

    Those images don’t inspire me. While some men might find them sexy I admire a woman with a little bit more body fat percentage than that ha…

    In any sense, when it comes to those images inspiring me when it comes to incredibly ripped guys, that doesn’t do it for me either. What does inspire me however, is the fitness behind it all.

    I really enjoy the workouts that go into it all and I’m more willing to want to try a difficult fitness routine than to get a body that I see in a magazine or an image that I see somewhere.

    Buff body in picture? No.
    Incredibly tough workout that they did to get it? Heck yeah! Bring it on!

    • MizFit says

      as a misfit with sadly too few male readers I SO APPRECIATE you, Mark & BIGZIG for chiming in.

  59. says

    I generally like most of those types of pics. For me, I find them inspiring and motivating. I love quotes too, so if there is an awesome quote associated with it, all the better. I have never considered your perspective before but I can see your point.

  60. says

    My 2 cents – they don’t bother me, but they don’t necessarily motivate me (the words more often than the pictures). I know that to look like that takes genes I don’t have and/or liking food a lot less than I do. It’s no use to me to be 5% bodyfat or whatever if I’m so b#$%&y that no one wants to be around me…

    Then again, I’m the kind of person that if I’m going to set a “looks like” goal, it’s going to be “I want to look more like” not “I want to look like”. It’s about looking better in a tri suit, but not to the detriment of actually performing in said tri suit.

    My favorite “fitspo” is a picture of crazy hills on a road, and simply the words “DO THEM”. Now THAT is a reminder I need. I hate running hills. :)

  61. Janis says

    Those fitspo things only inspire people to injure themselves, IMO. No, pain is NOT “weakness leaving the body.” Pain is your body trying to get i9t through your thick skull that you need to find a new way to do something, because the way you’re doing it now is wrong. Pain is your body trying to get you to use your BRAIN!

  62. MizFit says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE AND APPRECIATE all your thoughts and the fact we can disagree respectfully.
    thank you all so much for chiming in…

  63. says

    AMEN to all of this!
    It’s in the same vein as the “real women have curves” or “real women lift weights” JUST STOP!! We’re all REAL, right?!

  64. says

    I’ll tell you what – I am not a fan of fitspo when it’s simply a woman (or man) in an image with some purportedly motivational quote. Like you, I don’t find value in comparing myself to others and, at one point, these types of images were triggering for me. Something I DO gain motivation from is seeing women in ACTION. I love me some videos of men and women kicking butt in cross fit or sprinting or lifting heavy shit. That makes me realize how incredible our bodies are and instead of wanting to look a certain way, I want to get moving! I love documentaries like Strong and writers like Ragen Chastain (who is a fat athlete) who remind me that moving my body and challenging myself are great goals that are not contingent on me having a flat tummy or any specific shape.

  65. says

    They do motivate me to a point.

    I think it’s more so the phrases than the images themselves. The phrases make me internally say “YEAH!!! Let’s kick some ass today!”, but the images not so much because I know that

    A. – (like you said) this is a fleeting moment in time. They are being captured at their peak.


    B. – Women in particular shouldn’t be trying to maintain such a low body fat percentage for such a long period of time– unless their cool with possibly not having children and are down for some osteoporosis when they’re older. So I have zero desire to be that cut.

    It’s misleading to think that those images are what we should aspire to. I don’t want to live in my own personal hell of plain chicken breasts, egg whites, broccoli, and missing out on special moments with my daughter for the sake of striated muscles. NO. THANKS.

    With that being said– I’m thinking– At least this is how it started for me– that this was in retaliation of the “thinspiration” or “Pro-Ana” that you speak of.

    I personally was sick of seeing pictures of uber thin women and people thinking that’s what they should look like (I don’t want my daughter to feel those pressures! Scares the poop out of me!). So I turned to images of women who were muscular like me.

    But as with anything– too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. And it’s all just getting out of hand.

  66. says

    I hate Fitspo. I don’t think it’s inspirational or encouraging. I’d rather be inspired by REAL people!

  67. says

    I feel like what it comes down to for me, is the idea that to be “fitspo” you have to look like that. You know what inspires me? The crazy busy mother who makes time to get her workouts in, the overweight man running along the track and never giving up no matter how much he is struggling, the 90 year old grandmother who completes a marathon. If fitspiration is a real thing, it should come from all shapes, sizes, looks, ages, etc. As always, beautifully said and so thoughtful my friend!

  68. says

    Great post, Carla!

    I don’t really like fitspo either. Because I don’t like it, I actually started creating my own fitspiration images. :-)

    I’m too old to believe I’m going to look like those 20-something fitness models. Also, there is no way I’m suddenly going to invest an insane amount of my time and energy to the way my body looks. I’m more interested in how my body feels when I move.

  69. Janis says

    You know what I’m comparing this fitspo stuff to in my mind? Trying to get inspired to do the other things I love to do by pictures of people doing them. I don’t look at pictures of people knitting to get inspired to knit. I don’t need pictures of people playing piano to get inspired to play piano. Look, you too can look perfect and wear some expensive clothing and play a piano!

    Who freaking cares? I do these things because the activities themselves are things I want to do. I enjoy the sensation of doing them, the feeling of accomplishment, getting lost in the fine details and the present-tense of the activity, finishing something and starting the next thing. Seriously — how many people get inspired to climb Mount Everest because they saw a picture of a mountain climber in an Armani suit? They just want to be doing it. You can show me a picture of someone in a ratty bathrobe with a booger hanging out of their nose sitting in front of a piano and I’ll still want to go play.

    There’s no picture you can take that encapsulates the sensation of actually doing something.

    Fitspo pictures are a losing proposition, I think. They try to browbeat you into doing something you don’t really want to do by showing you pictures of people who don’t need the pictures to force them to love doing it. o_O No makka no sense. Moving your body feels good, especially once it starts to get used to it and you gain some fitness and stamina. So just get up and do it if that’s your thing.

  70. says

    “Ive let this post languish in drafts for a while because so many women *I* adore also adore them some fitspiration.” YES! I have one of these drafts as well, and I always reach a point where I say to myself, “but if it’s what inspires others, than maybe that’s okay.” I personally do not post “fitspiration”, do not like it, get annoyed by it, especially on instagram and see all the fake that surrounds it.
    The ones that get me are basically women who are posing with a 25lb dumbbell with oil, not sweat, coming off of their perfectly make-uped faces. You know what does inspire me? Action shots of real women competing. The ugly run face and the visable four sections of someones quads as they sprint to the finish. Or almost any photos from the crossfit games, where you see women (with good form) squatting, climbing, lifting etc in order to get ranked as one of the best. This is inspiring because it’s true athleticism in the middle of a competition. Anyone can look amazing when they’re photoshopped and have great lighting.

  71. says

    I read Oxygen, Fitness RX, etc… The pictures of the women don’t really motivate me at all. What motivates me is my own drive to be healthy. My mama also motivates me. My whole family is CRAZY ACTIVE – so it has sort of been ingrained in me since I was born!

  72. says

    fitspo does not motivate me and i actually try to avoid it! it can be very triggering for me and it’s hard for me to remember that it IS all an illusion. that is the point here that resonates with me the most. it’s so easy to see one image and think “apply all”. more like “N/A to every moment except that one”.

  73. says

    Once again, I absolutely love this post. I go back and forth about the fitspo pictures. At times, I find them motivating, but at other times, I find myself comparing myself to the women in the pictures. I wonder why I push myself so hard and eat right 90% of the time when I don’t end up looking like these women. That turns it from inspiration to devastation.

    In those times, I turn to one of my all-time favorite quotes-”comparison is the thief of joy”. It couldn’t be more true; if I had nothing to compare myself to, I bet I would always be proud of my accomplishments.

  74. says

    I’m far more motivated by the words than the pictures, and by people I know in real life, not nameless potentially photoshopped people in the pictures. Great discussion Carla, thanks for bringing this up for discussion.

  75. says

    I’m motivated by the words not the image. There is a fine line between FITSPO and PROANA/PROMIA. I try not to look at the images because on a bad day, it will send me into a downward spiral and I don’t need that.

  76. says

    I love the sayings but hate the images that most of the words are on. I’m 5’7” and weigh 175 pounds. Trust me when I say you never see an image of anyone who comes close to looking like me with “I don’t regret that workout” plastered across it.

  77. says

    I agree. Working out (not excessively of course) is healthy. Being strong (but not obsessing over it) is healthy. However, FITSPO is very NOT healthy… at least not for me. I love what you said here: “FITSPO doesnt shout health! or long-term happiness!, but is simply a snapshot of ONE ephemeral moment in time.” Such a great point!!!

  78. says

    I’m not a fan of fitspiration. I feel that your inspiration should come from yourself and your world, not from pictures of other people.

  79. says

    First of all, I again applaud you for bringing up a topic that seems to incite appropriate and meaningful debate among your readers. Its one of the reasons I return again and again to reading your blog.

    Second off, I’m not really sure where I stand with this fitspiration business. I guess I am a middle man.

    Some of the images and quotes inspire me. They make me want to do better, and I don’t feel like less of a person while looking at them. More importantly I don’t feel like they are trying to make me feel like less of a person.

    Some of the images and quotes don’t.

    But that’s the way it ends up being always isn’t it… some things work for some, some work for others. I say, as long as you aren’t being harmed by it (and if you are, which is totally possible, I say stop looking and take care of yourself) then each to their own

    But I definitely understand, appreciate and even agree with the points you make.

  80. Marste says

    I’m so glad you posted this. I agree that for me there’s a fine line between most of these (highly sexualized) images and the pro-ana images, and I DEFINITELY spent a lot of time flagellating myself for not having that kind of body.

    I also notice that most of the bodies in those images are one specific body type, not necessarily attainable for everyone, no matter how fit they get. Christina Hendricks will probably not ever look like a fitness model, you know? Not because she can’t get fit, but because her physical structure will always have bigger boobs and hips than a “fitness model” look.

    Finally, I *will* say that I LOVED those old Nike ads. Remember the ones that had a pic of a body part and started off with, “My butt is big,” “My knees are tomboys,” “My shoulders aren’t dainty,” that kind of thing, and then went on to extoll the amazingness of that body part. Those ads are the only fitspo-type stuff I’ve ever seen that honestly made me want to get up and get moving, not because I felt less than, but because I felt AWESOME.

  81. says

    Life is a film, not a snapshot. Let me know how your life is, not just what you look like. Except on your wedding day, that one i will give you.

    • MizFit says

      reading, nodding, loving how we can all be civil and disagree and it’s OK.
      we all find our motivation in different places…

  82. says

    I hear you… I don’t see fitspiration being all that different from images of skinny models in our teen magazines- it’s an image that is hard to achieve and leaves most of us feeling inadequate and dissatisfied with our own bodies. To that extent, it is not helpful!!

  83. says

    I’m not on social media except for my column stuff so I can’t exactly comment on this, Carla. I do know that I’m not much into sayings as there is always one to support any dysfunction that one may have. I’ve seen too many examples of that with people justifying terrible behaviors with sayings.

  84. says

    I usually like the motivational images, but now you’re making me think about them a little differently. They are motivating to me, but I see how people could find them de-motivating. I guess you can’t please everyone, but I enjoyed the thought-provoking challenge! :)

  85. Valerie says

    They’ve always made me a bit sad and grim. Until you articulated it, I never really grasped why. I won’t ever look like that, because I’m not built that way. I will look good, but I won’t look like that – which feels like failure.

    And it’s NOT.

  86. says

    Love your thoughts on this, Miz – I “like” fitspiration, in that I have a folder full of those photos with captions on my computer, but it definitely leads me towards an ED path. And I don’t like how it makes the assumption that you’re only “fit” if you look a certain way.

    Which leads to the “real woman” issue – which I hate. All those captions like “real women have curves!” and “real women lift weights!” seem so DEGRADING. Every woman is a real woman, no matter what her body type or fitness level!

  87. says

    they don’t seem to bother us, guess you can say we have mixed views. we know to some people they might be discouraging but to others they can be motivating. guess it all depends on the individual. though anything overdone is never good. but we can find some pictures of others progress motivating, most of the time.

  88. says

    I’ve never really gotten the whole fitspo thing. I don’t find it motivating at all. In fact I think you nailed it with the pro-ana. It’s all an imagine – smoke and mirrors. Fit is fit and let’s leave it at that.

  89. GIna says

    There is nothing uptight about Carla calling this out difficult but not uptight! Body image issues are on the rise in my practice and make no mistake eating disorders are cunning…images (used to be tv and magazine and now include the web) feed an insatiable desire for perfection. We need to be as thoughtful of what we look at as we would with what we put in our mouth. It matters and it matters BIG time (some posted here they don’t even “see” the images just the quote. They have still been imprinted with the image, yet unconsciously! We want to be fully aware what we are being FED Mind and Body.
    So some ingest junk food yes they have a right to yet they also have a right to the knowledge of what that junk does to their mind/body others like to ingest things junk media and they too have a right to know what this can do to their mind/body.
    Hat tip to you Carla for standing up and ringing the “wake up” bell. This is important to talk about in the open. Mahalo for all you do. <3

  90. says

    I share you’re dislike of those images. Perhaps it is because of my history of anorexia (I’m now 4 years sober/healthy) that makes me sensitive to these images: they are reminiscent of what I used to hang in my college dorm room to motivate me to “get thinner” (similar to the pro-ana images you mentioned). I don’t think they promote a healthy view of self and if they are at all motivational it is out of comparison/competition–not a motivation that has longevity.

  91. Keri says

    As an ED sufferer for almost 20 years and currently trying to overcome a relapse and kick this illness once and for all…I have to say- THIS “FITSPO is frighteningly close to PRO-ANA* draped in muscled clothing. The same way pro-ana sites feed off female insecurity FITSPO seems to only ‘succeeds’ if what I currently am is not enough. I am enough. Confidence & empowerment can be found in all shaped and sizes & one is not more “OK” than another. For me *all* emphasis on bodies–fit, skinny, curvy, BUFF, emaciated, whatever–is emphasis on the VESSEL not the woman inside. Im far more interested in the woman inside.” YES!!!!!!! Thank you! I am trying to focus more on being a good wife, mother, child of God, sister, daughter, friend, etc…all of which I cannot be if I am consumes with my outside appearance! Seriously, thank you!!!!!

  92. says

    I love this. I have started to “weed out” my social media feeds because I find some of these head-cropped-off-only-single-body-part-pictures to be disrespectful to not only the person that the picture is of (hello, where is your face?? that’s an important part of you!), but everyone looking at it. Again, only my opinion. I agree that it’s inflammatory in the wrong ways for me. Again, we all differ, but for me – I tend to agree more with you! (And if the images motivate me at all, it’s for the wrong reasons – ie: feeling not good enough, like I need to prove something, etc.) Great post!

  93. says

    For me the words are more motivational than the images. Even at my fittest I will not look like those women. I love inspirational words be I guess that’s why I read blogs.

  94. cheryl says

    You post pix of yourself in bikinis, running, in bras and of your abs.
    You have a blog about fitness.
    You are the antithesis of what you are saying.
    You are part of it.

      • MizFit says

        Im so glad you shared your thoughts!
        My post was focusing on FITSPO (as defined as images with quotes splashed across disseminated sans-post with sole purpose of “inspiring” healthy living)–but Id welcome welcome a guest post with a countering point of view.
        Id love that!

  95. cheryl says

    PS I have NO idea what FItspo or proana even is. Happier that way probably-what other women do or look like does not influence me in the least about what I do with and for my body.

    • parvati says

      If you have no idea of the subject matter then your 2 cents is exactly that:2 cents. Pro ana sites encourage anorexia, poisoning an entire society, social media has taken this to new levels and she was so articulately pointing out that fact so don’t tell her she is just apart of it.

  96. says

    Love you for this post. I used to like fitspo for the motivating messages but then I realized that it was playing much more on my desire to look and be like the person in the picture and in turn making me beat up on myself. And I totally get what one of the other commenters said about the fact that each person behind that image has a story and is human and has to make healthy choices but for the majority, that’s not what we see or take away from the photos. We just want that (body, legs, abs, arms, etc.).

    I have a draft along these lines sitting around too but haven’t published it yet. Maybe I will.

  97. says

    Yessss a thousand times yes!! To this: “For me *all* emphasis on bodies–fit, skinny, curvy, BUFF, emaciated, whatever–is emphasis on the VESSEL not the woman inside. Im far more interested in the woman inside.”
    I hate Fitspo. I’ve written about why in previous posts. Some say I’m tainted by my prior ED experience (and I’d say I’m tainted by my work in the industry the past few years – I’ve seen first hand what goes into making those images and you were right on the money about “dehydrated, carb-depleted, one-day” etc) but I just see too much damage in the pictures. Thank you for this.

  98. says

    Well I rarely like the pictures of people. I am not that person and I never will be and I don’t want to be them either. Some of the messages also feel like bullying to me. On the other hand I do like my friends favorite which is “When in doubt eat broccoli!” and I find it helps me with my food anxiety. I also like Nike’s “Just DO IT!” as I tend to plan to death but never start. For me I just try to be very selective in what Fitspo I look at. If you send me any “Happiness is …” cute stuff then I flip out ’cause I hate that stuff!

  99. says

    Maybe I am a bit of a misfit. You echo many of my thoughts about photos like that. I’m not sure if it is because I’m older and have no chance/desire/hope to look the the women in the fitspro shots, or if it is just that to me they really are not different than magazine covers. Beautiful, fit, and usually skinny (ironically the ones that say Strong is the new Skinny are usually pretty damned skinny!).

  100. says

    LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this!! Honestly I used to post and share pictures like that in my earlier blogging days but then one day I realized something, they didn’t motivate me at ALL.Yeah some had great words of wisdom but the people in the pictures looked nothing like me or most of my peers for that matter. I started making my own “fitspo” pictures with my own body and my own words to share with my friends.FIT has many meanings to me, there is no one definition of fit, its comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors!


  101. Azusmom says

    Too many fitspo photos are the same old thing in shiny new packaging. Re-touched, hyper-sexualized photos of young women, too many of whom over-exercise and undereat in order to look the way they do. I have seen and experienced too much of that for it to be inspirational to me in any way. It just angers and depresses me.

  102. says

    I honestly never gave this much thought until today! My motivation for working out and eating healthy comes from the way I feel with making good choices. I’m motivated by the changes I have seen in my own body and mind. Different strokes for different folks!

  103. says

    I love love love this. And thank you for saying this. I see my newsfeed filled with “fitspiration” images from lots of my friends not necessarily in the fitness community. I personally don’t get it… I don’t find motivation in a picture of a tanned, lanky, female because at the end of the day she is not me, I am a 5’2″ personal trainer who works out because it feels good and because I like to be strong.
    Those images are not realistic and I instead am more inspired by incredible weight loss stories from my good friends, seeing friends who never played a sport in high school run marathons and seeing friends shatter their PRs. That to me is fitness inspiration I can relate to because these are real people doing really awesome things.
    I hope this trend fades away sooner than later.

  104. says

    It motivates me to a degree, but I don’t seek out the Fitspo movement. I do admit it can get a little weird a times. However, an overweight woman pushing weights or doing burpees would inspire me, too.

  105. says

    The photos do not inspire me. at all. Knowing that after a huge weight loss and the skin issues – I am that strong, but will never look like that. It’s actually kind of depressing for me to see, so I don’t.

  106. says

    I agree with you. Honestly, I’m not really inspired with photos. I don’t want to expect that I will look so perfect. Good images can also have a negative impact so I don’t care much about that.

  107. says

    I am not a fan and I get my motivation from women and bloggers who I find real. I find these photos to be disturbing, sometimes unrealistic, and another pressure to put on women to look a certain way. Some of these photos are just not attainable. WIth that being said, it’s time to clean out my Instagram followers, which I have been wanting to do for a bit. I’m tired of getting constantly bombarded by these kind.

  108. denise says

    Love this. Agree. I’m sharing with my clients that request Fitspo graphics/their equivalents in so many other categories.

  109. says

    I do agree with lots of comments about the picture not being very inspiring. At least they are real instead of having pictures that are not really original. Very interesting!!!

  110. says

    I’m not a fitspo fan. It’s too far from my reality at the moment, so just annoys me and seems like they’re all saying ‘it’s my way or the highway’. Plus I hate the look of overly muscled women so don’t like the assumption that I should aspire to that!

    But… each to his own.

  111. says

    I agree. I appreciate pictures of real gym selfies on instagram and whatnot, but I get annoyed with all the pictures of fitness models or outrageous bowls of fruit. But especially the fitness model pictures with the little captions saying “sweat everyday” or something. They can be triggering for me, especially when I try to take rest days. Suddenly I feel lazy for resting one or two days out of the week; that’s not right. Great post!

  112. says

    I appreciate that people are starting to notice that anorexia isn’t the way to go and that fitness is a solid path but since the focus is still on skinny while disguising itself as fit is a problem. It’s the same way I feel about “real woman have curves.” I don’t have curves because I just wasn’t born with them but I’m not supper skinny either so apparently I’m not every real. I agree that the focus should be inside because every one of these campaigns winds up improving upon one problem (anorexia) but creating another (striving for something that is barely physically possible).


  1. [...] Why I Hate Fitspiration This is a topic that’s been on my mind for a while and I’m so glad that Carla from MizFitOnline wrote about it. I know that there are a lot of differing opinions about fitspiration – whether it’s harmful or helpful – and I also know that I a lot of people find the images inspiring. What I loved about this post, more than Carla’s perspective on the topic, is the discussion in the comments section. [...]