fitspo | motivating or not?

Motivating? Or slightly depressing?


They say the camera never lies. I always recommend you take a full length picture of yourself in your undies as you start one of our programs – just for you.  It marks the beginning of your journey, and a candid ‘selfie’ is a great tool for motivation as you get set on a fitness program.

It shows you as you are. Often our self-perception is more than a little skewed when we look in a mirror… we are our own worst critic and sometimes seeing yourself in a photograph makes it easier to be less critical and more objective, kind even. It can be the perfect way to inspire you, and when changes start to happen, you can really see the results of your hard work. It shows you just how far you’ve come and gives you the momentum to keep going!

In our closed community support group, many Mamas have shared pictures of their bodies at the start of their program, which they update as they see improvements. Their shrinking mid sections and tightening waistlines are not only a source of great pride (quite rightly!) to themselves, but also a huge inspiration to those taking the same journey.

But I don’t cover this website with ‘before and after shots’ of my clients. We keep that for the relative privacy of around 10,000 women in our closed group ;)

I tend to think that most women prefer  to keep their semi naked bodies for the eyes of a safe, supportive community , not for the consumption or uninvited critique of the Internet at large.

I think that maybe the camera can lie, certainly if the image is out of context. The Internet is awash with ‘fitspo’ type images like the one here – gleaming, tanned, ripped bodies (actually often just parts of bodies – just a sweaty torso seems to be all you need to know about a person…). We are supposed to find these images hugely inspiring, they’re supposed to make us shift our ass and drink more green juice because maybe, just maybe, if we’re really, really disciplined, we too can look like that.

If indeed that is even real. Don’t even get me started on the Photoshop thing.

But we’re not all built the same, which means we can’t and shouldn’t all aim to look the same. What is achievable + realistic for one person, may be totally wrong for someone else. We don’t all have long lean limbs (my yoga teacher always gives me blocks in class due to my apparently ‘short arms’. Who knew your arms could be too short?). For many of us the BMI required to reveal a sculpted six-pack is entirely unhealthy (click to check out the rather lovely GoKaleo’s blog… just don’t forget to come back after!) for our genetic makeup. For the unenhanced among us, enormous perky pneumatic breasts tapering down to a 24-inch waist are not a realistic goal. My experience is that breastfeeding our babies is without question marvellous for mother and baby on many levels. The perky bra-less-breasts-in-skimpy-tank level… is not one of them.

But what about the more ‘real’ before and afters? I totally agree these pictures can be incredibly inspiring to many – but every picture has a story. I don’t just want to know that she is thinner, or ‘tinier’, I want to know if she’s healthy, energetic, vibrant, and eating enough food good to keep her strong and full of energy. Does she feel good? Does she laugh, eat and play? Does she feel sexy?  Is she proud and confident in her own skin and is the size of her waist or the gap between her thighs just that, or is it a hang-up that consumes her, and totally out of perspective? Because those are the criteria that really show if whatever plan or diet or technique or workout she is following, is really *working*.

Our abs do not define us. If lean sculpted abs are our goal, and we achieve them in a healthy, nourished and balanced way,  then yes, sure that can inspiring to others on their own fitness journey. But every bit as inspiring is the larger or smaller, curvy, soft, even stretch marked or scarred mother’s body, inhabited by a strong, fit, healthy, nourished, confident and vital woman.

What do you think? Do the obvious size differences in before and after shots, or the sculpted muscles of the fitspo images inspire you, or are they one more ideal or incomplete story to compare yourself to? I’d love to know your thoughts.