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
- 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.