What's Wrong with Fitspiration on Pinterest?

What's wrong with Fitspiration on Pinterest? Pinterest can be an amazing tool to browse inspiration quotes, healthy meals, and find fun workouts. It's a fun way to share recipes, posts, and find new ones.

On the other hand, it also has its their share of negative, guilt-inducing pictures. Thankfully, it has taken measures to ban "thinspiration" posts, which encourage people to lose weight or achieve an unrealistic body through unhealthy measures. For those with disordered eating, or even a history of it, these posts can be extremely triggering.

Now, there are the "fitspiration" posts that talk about being strong, healthy, and getting fit. I don't think these are much better. Here are some of the worst ones. Please don't pin these, and share them anymore!

Worst "Fitspiration" Pins

You have to exercise for "x" minutes to burn off "x" calories.

Um, okay. If I'm eating cookies, I want to savor them. I'm not thinking, "Oh, god, I'm going to have to run 5 miles tomorrow to make up for this." No way, I'm eating them without guilt. You can eat your favorite foods, and you won't gain weight from eating a few cookies each week. What matters most is the nutrient density of your meals, and the total calories you're eating. Yes, I don't recommend counting calories, but they do matter.

Your body doesn't save the cookie calories to burn off the next day. Your body is complex, and the way it uses and energy depends on a number of factors like your metabolism, activity level, hormones, and more.

Instead, focusing on finding the activity you enjoy and can stick with. If you like to run, great. If you regularly do yoga, awesome. If you kick butt in karate, very cool. Stay active for the feel-good endorphins and because it feels great to move your body. Don't stay on the elliptical for an hour each day just to burn off 500 calories.

"Strong is the new skinny."

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for being strong! Gaining strength and muscle mass will help your metabolism, bone health, and more as you age, not to mention athletic performance. Focusing on your body's ability to run fast, hold a handstand, or lift heavy weights can help you build a better relationship with your body rather than focusing simply on the number on the scale.

The truth is most Pinterest pictures that proclaim "Strong is the new skinny" are just pictures of muscular, very fit women. They are still thin women These women most likely have a very low body fat percentage and may be professional athletes or fitness models.

You don't have to look like these women to be strong. The way you look is perfect. Women are supposed to have a little more fat on their body to help grow and support a baby. In order to have defined, six-pack abs, many women lose their period, which is not very healthy! You can be strong at any size and weight.

...and the worst one goes to:

"Do it for the gap between your thighs. Do it for the perfectly flat stomach. Do it because you'd rather love yourself later than hate yourself after that full feeling sets in. Do it because food does not satisfy you nor does it define you."

There are so many things wrong here.

First, a thigh gap is not even possible for most women. Jen Sinkler busts that myth. Everyone has a different body shape, and some women may naturally be thinner and have a thigh gap. Other women will never have a thigh gap. So what, who decided a thigh gap was sexy anyways? I'd rather have some extra padding in my thighs and butt anyways - plus, science says a big butt is a healthy butt. 

Second, who cares about having a perfectly flat stomach? You can be healthy without being stick thin with a flat stomach. I don't have a perfectly flat stomach. I'm at a healthy weight for my body. I know because I can easily maintain it within a few pounds without counting calories, undereating, and I feel good and have tons of energy at this weight. Maybe I would have a flat stomach 10 pounds lighter, but I'd also probably lose my period, be cranky and fatigued, and have to eat less than my body needs.

Third, you should feel comfortably full after a meal. You don't have to get to the point of uncomfortably full or stuffed, but eating until you're comfortably full is nourishing and satisfying for your body. It tells your body that you have given it energy, and a good-sized, balanced meal will keep you satisfied between meals.

Lastly, food can satisfy you. A piece of chocolate can add pleasure to your life, and a meal out with friends can satisfy you. Food can't fix your problems, but there's no reason why it can't satisfy you.

Other negative pins include:

  • "To sit down and still have a flat stomach." Who actually has this?
  • "The junk food you've wanted for an hour OR the body you've wanted for years." Restriction leads nowhere.
  • "Don't stop when you're tired. Stop when you're DONE." Sounds like a quick way to injury or burn-out.
  • "What you eat in private you wear in public." I've studied biochemistry. Eating a brownie doesn't automatically add a pound to your belly. You know what can increase belly fat? Stress from increased cortisol.
  • "Suck it up now and you won't have to suck it in later." Or, don't suck it in at all?

Inspiring Pins

I'm all about a balanced approach to food and fitness. Since I love positivity, here are some pins I can support:

positive-body-image-pins Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 3.58.14 PM Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 3.57.40 PMScreen shot 2013-11-16 at 4.02.24 PM


Embrace your body. Love it. Focus on health, not weight. You're worth it.

For fun, check out these 9 Fitspiration Pins, corrected.

Are you a Pinterest fan?

If you're on Pinterest, I have several love-your-body, empowering-health boards that you can head on over to check out. Share your favorite pins or boards below, and I'll check them out!