A Dietitian’s Rant on “Fitspo”

I came across a post on social media this month of a transformation picture – you know one of those before/after body comparisons highlighting someone’s weight loss. This transformation picture, like many others I came across, showed off a stark contrast between the before picture and a lean, ripped body as the after picture (often referred to as “fitspo” aka. fitness inspiration).

Now I don’t want to criticize this individual, that’s not my intention. This person clearly put in a lot of hard work and dedication to fitness. However, I think it’s unfortunate that so often health is shown in extremes on social media. From a starting point of overweight (clinically speaking) to an end result of six pack abs, people rarely seem to set their goals on the in between.

But maybe they should be.  Because “healthy” isn’t black and white like that. “Unhealthy” doesn’t mean overweight and “healthy” doesn’t mean six pack abs. Getting healthy can mean small changes – and in fact this is much more sustainable in the long term. Not to mention for some women, getting visible abs means dropping to an extremely low body fat percentage that can actually be harmful to our reproductive system and bones.

And it irks me to see these transformation pictures with captions that make it sound like anyone can achieve this physique: “You can do it too!”, “Work hard and get this body too!”, “What’s your excuse?”, etcetera etcetera. Sorry, but six packs are not realistic or even possible for some people. And I’m sure those captions have the intention of being motivational, but they can have the exact opposite effect for some people. No, not everyone can achieve six packs abs because some people don’t have the genetics, the time, or the budget. Some people worry about having the time to see their kids between working two jobs let alone having the time to work out at a gym for a hour and a half. And some people’s genetics mean it is difficult to the point of being impossible to get abs, like me. I have never and will never have them – I could go to the gym for 1 hour a day and run and do ab exercises til I’m blue in the face, drop 20 lbs, and I still won’t have abs (believe me, been there, done that).

So amidst all the “fitspo”on social media these days, focus on what’s right for you and remember that drastic change isn’t always the best change.

What do you think? Do you find “fitspo” motivating or unrealistic?

4 Comments

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4 Responses to A Dietitian’s Rant on “Fitspo”

  1. There are few things that irk me more than “fitspo”. PREACH, SISTER.

  2. Fitspo used annoy me too initially. While I do agree that the poster needs to do so responsibly, I also think that the responsibility falls onto the person looking at the photo. It’s important to remember that photos don’t paint the whole picture- while the person on the other side may look great, viewers need to realise what that kind of transformation entails. The poster may be smiling and coming across as inspirational but chances are she/he is socially isolated, eating a limited amount of foods and not being able to live life to the fullest. Six pack abs comes with a price- that’s the hard truth!

  3. I love it and I agree completely. Healthy doesn’t always equal six pack abs or rock hard muscles. Health is how you feel and what your blood work says, not how you look.

  4. I know fitspo is completely unrealistic but sometimes if I see it when I’m in a bad mood it does make me start to idolize it. I’m usually pretty good at snapping out of it and I’ve actually started unfollowing people who post that kind of stuff because I dont want to feel bad about myself!

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