Why I Hate: Fitspo 5

I tried to be one of those people who found inspiration in fitspo posts, but the more that I tried to appreciate the posts, the more I found my already bad self-esteem dropping. For me, fitspo is like going through living with Dadada again. Seeing posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr that would be called “fitspo” reminded me of how he used to tell me that my life pretty much wasn’t worthwhile because of my weight. Having friends post their accomplishments is one thing, but when the accomplishments turn into “inspirational” posts that tear down anyone who isn’t doing the exact same thing as them it becomes a lot less inspirational and a lot more hurtful.

For people who can do regular exercises everyday, that’s awesome. And if you want to share that, then that’s great. Please don’t tear down others who don’t, though. Please don’t make a post about someone’s struggles with mental illness into your crusade about how exercise will help them overcome it. Please don’t make a post about their eating a certain number of carbs or certain amount of calories or a certain level of protein into a lecture on how if they would only do what you do, then all the problems of their life could be solved. The evangelicalism of fitspo is off-putting. To me, it comes across as a way to rub someone else’s “failings” in their face. I know that isn’t the intent. I know that what people want to do with their posts is help make the world a better, healthier place, but that isn’t always the outcome.

I spent the greater part of the last few years doing little more than the bare minimum to survive, so I don’t need to be given grief over counting taking cold showers, cooking 3-5 meals per week from scratch, and hand-washing dishes as exercise. Except for taking a daily shower, I wasn’t doing those things before. I’d shut myself down. And so just doing those things now is a big deal for me personally. That might not be a big deal for your average fitspo-loving individual or even a non-fitspo-loving person, which is why I would never tell you that you had to count them. Right now, I have to consider them as personal victories. I need to feel good about the things that I am doing to make my life better. If I don’t, I will regress. I know this about my own struggles with weight. I need to be able to realize that I can handle this amount of activity before I push on. I need to be my own inspiration.

When I do these things and receive some sort of negative response about how if I would only do more or that what I’m counting doesn’t really matter, it makes me feel like a failure. That makes me either want to go binge or restrict my calories completely. Today’s a good example. I read something labelled fitspo that upset me, so today I have eaten less than a 100 calories all day, but I’ve gone for a 0.4 mile walk (barefoot and with shorts/no jacket in 50°F weather), done 60 minutes of food preparation, spent about a half an hour hand-washing dishes, and had a 25 minute cold shower. According to MyFitnessPal, I’ve burned 921 calories. According to another website, I’ve burned around 700 calories. Either way, it is more than what I used to do and it’s way too much for someone to do without eating. But because of the angst/rage/frustration I’m feeling about what I saw, I don’t feel hungry. I don’t want to eat. And, while some people might make some kind of crack about how I should just stop eating altogether because of my weight, I know that not eating is just as bad as overeating. I also know that tomorrow I may be hurting all over and too tired to move from the walk alone.

While it isn’t the other person’s fault for triggering bad behavior of me, their behavior doesn’t help. I know that being obese is dangerous. I also know that over-eating and under-eating are unhealthy and going without exercise is unhealthy. I also know that I have limits that need to be respected, not just by me, but by other people. Not every person can exercise at the same level.

Some of my limits:

  • tachycardia & arrhythmia
  • anemia & vitamin deficiencies
  • fibromyalgia
  • asthma
  • overheating easily

If I do too much, any of these issues can be exacerbated. I know the anemia part doesn’t make sense, but anemia prevents my body from providing the appropriate level of oxygen to my muscles. This tires me more easily. The vitamin deficiencies keep me from having the appropriate level of energy to even start exercising sometimes. I have to take these things into consideration every time I do any activity, even things most people do without thinking.

What does fitspo do? It makes me want to ignore the issues. It makes me feel like a bad person when I can’t. It makes me feel like I will never be good enough. Basically, it encourages me to stay in a cycle of negative self-talk. It inspires me to not take care of myself. So I need to avoid fitspo posts for fear that they will do the opposite of what is intended by them. I may even have to block certain hashtags or hide news from certain friends because my self-esteem can’t handle their fitspo.

About Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

5 thoughts on “Why I Hate: Fitspo

  • Sean

    Weight loss apps should be motivating, not trying to demotivate you. It should encourage you to be safe and not over strain yourself. I know when I load the Xbox Fitness app it says if your heart rate goes higher than normal take a break, which may seem like too much of a caution, but still is nice to know that they are trying to make it as safe as possible for everyone and not just one core type of person.

    • Janet
      Post author

      The apps aren’t really the problem. It’s the users who get too into it and expect others to get as hyped about it (or as physically able to do the workouts) as they are and seem to use fitspo as a way to bully people that upset me/remind me of bullies/abuse.

      Basically: I think the apps are great. It’s the people who suck.

  • Nicole

    I get what you’re saying, although I’m a little confused about going for a walk barefoot & dressed for summer in February? Was that to be punishing or.. ?

  • Amy

    I hate people like that. There’s no reason why everyone should be doing something at the same pace/using the same method as one another. Tearing someone else down just because you’re supposedly “succeeding” to a greater extent is stupid. Just focus on your own goals – any improvements you’re making are good and you should be really proud. Don’t let anyone tell you any different!

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