A few days ago something wonderful went viral: moderate fitspo from Lean Girl in Training. At first it looks like regular old (unmotivating at best, shaming and even dangerous at worst) fitspo.
But in fact, it’s not like that at all. It writes over and adds stuff to the regular fitspo it cribs from. The message “It doesn’t get easier, you just get better,” has been scrawled over so that it now reads, “It does get easier & you also get better.”
And “four simple rules” have been changed into four simple “tips” that support moderation:
Yes, “Lean Girl in Training” has her height-weight stats and is trying to lose weight. But in addition to the goal weights, she has another goal, which she thinks of as her ultimate goal: “Ultimate goal: to be free from chronic tendinitis; to be able to write, lift, walk and run without chronic pain; to respect my body and learn to treat it well.”
People can have the goals they want to have, but in the scheme of goals that make me smile and that resonate with me, this kind of thing, especially learning to respect our bodies and treat them well, works.
And the moderate fitspo messages work. Way back when I blogged about the inspirational dis-value of fitspo, I complained that (for me) fitspo has the opposite affect of what’s intended. Photos of slender, youthful, ripped bodies that will never be mine don’t get me out of bed in the morning for my workouts. And I think that’s good thing because it means I’m realistic. That’s progress. I haven’t always been realistic. Or moderate. Or kind to myself.
Even if regular hardcore fitspo works for some people, the messages are dangerous and unloving. They lead to overtraining. As the revised message in the “tips” says, we are not machines. We’re just doing our best to live an active lifestyle–ideally because it feels like a loving thing to do for ourselves.
Sam blogged earlier this week about what to do with our blog’s moderate message of finding stuff you love to do and opening up space in your life to do them if you’re not able to find any activities that you love. She had some good suggestions that ranged from resisting “healthism” and “the health imperative” to building activity into your everyday life–things you do anyway like gardening, cleaning the house, carrying the groceries.
For me, realizing that it was getting harder to carry the groceries a couple of years ago got me back into the gym. At first, I didn’t like it much, but I stuck it out and eventually it got me where I am now–leading a pretty active lifestyle and doing things I love, even things I never ever thought I would do (like triathlon!). See my post about never saying “never” here.
Fitspo was never going to get me there. Neither was a bunch of seemingly hardcore fitness enthusiasts telling me what *they* do. Why? Because to someone who is not active, or who is doing things in moderation, photos of people who look like they spend hours a day in the gym, or the workout schedules of people who actually DO spend hours a day “exercising,” are disheartening.
They’re also shaming. They send a message about what you’re “supposed” to look like and what you’re “supposed” to do to get there. None of that’s true. For all the messages we are bombarded with, we do get to make choices and we can resist.
That’s why moderate fitspo makes me happy. I love the idea that “three days without exercise is a holiday” and that “if you don’t go all the way, just go halfway.” These are realistic messages that keep me at it and take the pressure off when I don’t stick to my schedule.
For me, they’re motivational because they’re humane. We love that kind of thing here.
Rest days? Excellent! Blanket hugging on a rainy morning? Go for it! Doing less? By all means!
[all image credit goes to Lean Girl in Training]