My beef with Pinterest

by Khushboo on November 28, 2012

Happy hump day, homies!  Thanks for your comments about my workout hiatus.  After enjoyable workouts yesterday & today, it’s safe to say I’m back in business!  Continuing on the fitness talk, I wanted to post about the influence of social media, particularly Pinterest, on a healthy outlook.  To an extent, the internet can be a fantastic source of recipes, workout ideas, and general motivation.  Even simply tweeting about a planned workout or updating your Facebook status about your health goals alone can be a powerful motivator.

That being said, I have found myself repeatedly cringing at certain Pinterest images in the “Fitspiration” sectio..  Although this category of images are meant to act as motivation in the journey toward fitness and good health, some actually foster a negative and unhealthy approach to reach these idealistic standards.  Tell me I’m not the only one who finds that such images have distorted the idea of what a “healthy” lifestyle is.  To begin with these images promote unrealistic body image.  I’m sure those cellulite-free, airbrushed models worked their asses off for those figures but does presenting only one body type mean a slim lean hourglass is the only ideal shape while body? Way to make people who don’t live up to these ideals feel crappy about themselves!

It goes without saying that my appearance is a huge reason why I work out.  However, it’s not my only motivation.  These pictures seem to solely focus on influence of exercise on aesthetics as opposed to health.  Moving on, these images also suggest that such physiques can only be attained by extreme measures.  You know I love workouts which push me to my limits, but not every workout has to leave your body feeling like it’s been hit by a train.  As for the nutrition behind these physiques, maintaining such eating habits is not healthy in the long run.
In addition to workout intensity, these images suggest that such workouts need to occur every single day for progress. Heck if we want to see progress, we need to incorporate rest days.  Recovery days are when muscles grow…muscles burn fat…see where I’m going with this?  Rest days do not make you lazy or less dedicated.

Now for the actual messages which are being promoted on these images.  ”No pain no gain” is the underlying motto of most of them.  Push through the pain if you want to see progress, right? ER NO!  Run through it and you probably won’t be running again for a LONG while.

Fortunately there are still some inspirational and realistic pins in between all this crap.  Some of my favorites include:

There’s no denying that Pinterest is a great resource, but definitely one that needs to be browsed with care.  We can’t control what images are being pinned, but we can be responsible in how we interpret these messages.

I’m curious to hear your take on the “Fitspiration” section of Pinterest…!

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat November 28, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Hmmm this one is a double edged sword for me. See, with my ED, I was constantly ripping up magazines and putting stick thin models into my “thinspo” book. All of them looked the same. Thin body, no curves, and definitely no muscles. But now adays, I look at the fit women on pinterest, and THATS what I want to be. I dont want to be a stick, I want to be fit and strong. SO those pictures motivate me to be better, however yes I can at times get obsessed with them and feel bad about myself because my body doesnt look like theirs.
So, its a double edged sword for me!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I like that you brought up the point of it being a double-edge sword. Although I am not a fan of these images in general, it is good to see that they illustrate the extent of what women are capable of.

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karina November 28, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I do love the ‘fitspiration’ section in pinterest but you are absolutely right that some of the messages are more harmful then good. Sometimes no matter how hard I work out in the gym and how much I’ve progressed in the last six months, when I look at those pictures I feel so demotivated that I still do not look like those women. Your positive attitude is always so inspiring KT!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Thanks, KC! You look fab and I’m not just saying it :)

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Alex @ therunwithin November 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

couldn’t freaking agree more, I stay far from that page. i think it encourages a very wrong image of fitness. it makes fitness all about the physical affects rather than health or overall well being. I hate that people think every workout should put you in pain, so false. I do it for me, for my mood, for my sanity!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

You and me both, my friend…exercise keeps me sane and also uplifts my mood! Workouts should be a source of pleasure, not pain!

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Parita @ myinnershakti November 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I agree with you 100%. I love that people want to be healthy – but there is not a one size fits all definition. Our bodies are all different and should be treated as such. I avoid the fitspiration type pics as much as I can. There are days when I’m not feeling so great about my body and I come across one of those, and I don’t feel motivated or better – I feel like crap to be honest. Better to just avoid!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Although some of the messages on these images can be motivational, I rather steer clear completely too…plenty of other sources that I can find motivation from!

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TorontoRunner November 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

I don’t do/check out the pinterest stuff, but I’ve definitely seen it around on a lot of websites/blogs.
It’s a tough one. I like it when they have great sayings/quotes to get you going, because I love those types of things.
But, I agree with you – the images and the intensity of the stuff it promotes is not exactly healthy.
As you said, definitely browse with care!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:43 pm

It’s motivating but too unbalanced….they portray exercise as two ends of the spectrum: either high-intensity 24/7 or nothing at all! I definitely fall in the middle of those extremes!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 28, 2012 at 9:20 pm

Lol Omigosh I love the ‘Run like you stole something’ sign. But anywayssss… my biggest beef with fitspiration is that it idolizes a particular body type that most people will never be able to achieve. It’s like thinspiration, but instead of obsessing over super skinny girls, we’re now becoming obsessed with super muscular and chiselled girls; and instead of starving ourselves, we’re now killing ourselves in the gym and following all sorts of crazy unbalanced diets. I’m all for motivation but not when it comes from looking at a certain body type and feeling guilty that I don’t look that way.

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm

EXACTLY! Thinspiration has morphed into Fitspiration…although one relies on food whereas the other exercise, they both come down to the same thing: an obsessive need to be in control. And that alone the idea that only one body is best is ridiculous…and also boring!

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Allie November 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm

This post NEEDED to be said! I mean, I’m a crazy gym-goer, and I still absolutely cringe at all the “fitspiration” on Pinterest and Instagram–The messages seem to be all about shaming, guilt, and holier (or fitter)-than-thou attitudes–NOT about finding YOUR health, your habits and your balance of staying healthy and happy. I’m all about building muscle, but I don’t for a second think that it’s for everyone (no exercise or body shape is!) or that everyone should pursue “that” body type/image. Grrr…Much needed rant :)

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Haha I’m glad you share my sentiments! Like you I’m all for weight lifting but our goals are completely different….that’s not to say that either one is better.

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Dixya @ Food, Pleasure and Health November 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

I am not much of a pinterest person but I could totally see how it could go both ways. All these models for fitness, beauty products etc are so unrealistic and makes you feel bad about yourself. Because in real life common how many of us are 5’11, Size 0 with flawless skin and thick shiny hair. A lot of my patients told me that they lose motivation when they come across these things because it made them feel like they will never get to that point inspite of so much hard work and strict regimen. I like realistic looking people with some flaws because those are more believable and attainable! Thanks for posting about this issue.

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Thanks for your comment, Dixya :) ! The ironic bit is that these images are meant to be a source of motivation yet ultimately end up being the complete opposite. A while back, Dove had a campaign where they used models of all sizes and it was such a breath of fresh air…if only other companies could follow suit!

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Alexis @ Hummusapien November 29, 2012 at 6:56 am

I really appreciate this post. Yes, sometimes inspiration from pinterest makes me get up off my butt and go to the gym, but other times it does make me feel a little crappy looking at a million perfect bodies with phrases that make it seem like it’s possible for everyone. I like pinning actual workouts or good inspirational quotes as opposed to unrealistic perfect looking bodies. Great post!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for chiming in, Alexis :) ! Although I do think that putting up images of what you aspire to looklike can be motivating, I think we also have to be realistic about what we put up….it takes a LOT of deprivation and dedication to achieve those kinda figures, if ever! Given the damage you are putting on your body & mind, I’m not sure it’s even worth it!

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Shreya @ rushofendorphins November 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

I keep away from these pages! Everything works differently for everyone – if I work out everyday (been there!), I start to dread my workouts so much and I become all stoner-like. Haha! And these “perfect” bodies shown by the media are so so unhealthy. The models/actresses live off on 1500 calorie plans with intensive workouts. Crazy! No wonder they never live past a certain age, or blow up when they hit 40!

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Couldn’t agree more! As I’ve not been enjoying my workouts as much lately, I am considering adding in an extra rest day! Workouts should be a source of enjoyment, not dread!

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Shreya @ rushofendorphins November 29, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Girl that is exactly what I did!

I used to work out 6 days a week some time back, afterwards I cut it down to 5, and now that I’ve started 2 days of lifting, I’ve cut back my running to 2 as well. 4 days of exercise with the *very very* occasional relaxing walk/Pilates/yoga thrown in is what’s been making me look forward to every session!

On an unrelated and random note, it is my dream to run along the Queen’s Necklace! ;)

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I was doing 6 sessions a week up until recently and am now down to 5…I am considering bringing it down to 4 now. During yuor weights sessions, do you do upper/lower body split or total body weights twice a week?

If you ever are in Mumbai, let’s definitely run along the Queen’s Necklace together :)

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Shreya @ rushofendorphins November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Yeah I personally find that I’ve been performing better after cutting it down. I do a day of lower body, and another day of upper body!

And that definitely sounds like a plan! :)

Jess November 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I love “run like you stole something” too funny!!!!
Totally agree with you that there are some poor role models/ pics out there. Quite sad really.

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Khushboo November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm

If I was running a race and saw that sign, it would definitely be much appreciated :)

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig November 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Oh gosh, this is why I don’t have Pinterest! It makes me ragey. Most of the things make me laugh out loud…. except the skinny girls look good in clothes one – it is totally true, I said it to one of my coworkers today! Haha ;)

These pictures remind me so much of the thinspiration images I used to look at when I had an ED. That’s NOT a good thing. Replacing thinness with largely unobtainable levels of leanness and muscularity is not fixing the problem.

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Khushboo November 30, 2012 at 11:46 am

Exactly..it’s not fixing the problem. It’s just diverting a problem in hopes that this new obsession is more socially acceptable..which clearly is not!!

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Kym November 30, 2012 at 2:58 am

Yeah, i love motivational fitness posters but there are definitely some that make me cringe. Like you said, recovery is important… working out EVERYDAY is not the only way to get results… i only work out 3x a week! And you’re right, healthy and fit doesn’t ONLY mean 6 pack and whatever else those “fitspiration” photos use. Haha!

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Khushboo November 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

Exercise is one of those things where many people think that quantity trumps quality. Personally I rather have 3 GREAT sessions than 5-6 mediocre a week!

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Sara @ Nourish and Flourish November 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm

My love for Pinterest is like my love for peanut butter: immense. However, I learned the hard way, and now stay faaarr away from the Fitspiration pages. Sure, those images are motivating; I even recall attributing a particularly *killer* workout to the fact that I’d spent 30 minutes pre-gym browsing Fitness pages. For me, the problem lied in idolization. I found myself placing these women on a pedestal, as if they’d achieved something bigger and better than I ever had. It made me want to push harder and harder, which we both know, never ends well. ;) For some, I’m sure it has the opposite effect though– serving as a visual representation of a physique that’s completely unattainable. The best way to motivate and inspire change in someone is to make a task or goal seem realistic. These images are NOT realistic, unless you want to live your life in a gym!

I’m perfectly happy pinning scrumptious looking recipes–some with attainable outcomes; others not so much. ;) The difference is that looking at pictures of beautiful food makes me happy. Looking at pictures of beautiful women? Erm, no. ;) xoxoxo <3

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Khushboo November 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Haha Pinterest is so addictive! I definitely agree about ensuring your goals are realistic. Although they should challenge you to some extent, they also need to be attainable. Otherwise watching your efforts not being rewarded to the extent you hoped is only going to crush your spirits!

Like you, the food section of Pinterest is much more up my alley ;) !

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honeywhatscooking November 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Really good post, you write so well. :)
I definitely believe the media markets just 1 type of body, and that is so wrong. I love JLo’s body – big ass and firm. Shakira.. that lady on Modern Family. Thick women can be sexy too… and the focus seems to be skinny everything.
THe Nike ad was pretty awesome with the girl’s butt.

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Khushboo November 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Thanks so much, Nisha! I used to find stick thin figures SO hot but I am definitely all about the curves these days…it’s so much more attractive in my eyes!

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Min November 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Hi, Khushboo! I know this may sound like an excuse but I really haven’t had the time to workout like I used to..Just two more weeks and this semester is over! No more research papers…well for a month. Anyway, I’ve been doing a lot of sitting that my butt’s def feeling heavy. Looking at these pictures make me feel really…self-conscious and unattractive.

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Khushboo December 2, 2012 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for your honesty Min…plenty of time, those images do more harm than good! Hope your papers are going well and sometimes you have to prioritise, even if that means gaining a few lbs in the process!

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Sig @ Melbourne Maharani December 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

Totally agree with this!! I had a thought a while back, actually soon after I posted my “Strong is the new skinny” post – were we just replacing one form of ideal beauty with another?? “Thinspiration” with “Fitspiration”? To be honest, I don’t trawl the pinterest fit boards often and tend to gravitate towards the more motivating messages rather than those with pics of ripped abs lol. I’m never going to look like that and don’t want to :D

I agree that it CAN be motivating, I just think it’s a dangerous line between inspiration and obsessive idolization.

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Khushboo December 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

You’re absolutely right…it’s just one form of obsession being replaced with another! To an extent, over-exercising seems socially more acceptable than undereating/purging….ultimately they are both disorders which are detrimental to our health!

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CurlyCrazy January 16, 2013 at 3:43 am

You’re totally right! I just got done writing an blog about the very same topic. I think this whole fitspo trend is pretty much just “thinspo” repackaged to be more socially acceptable. Either way, it’s just setting another unattainable standard for us women.

I do, however, like some of the quotes, but I could do without the half-naked bikini model picture in the back. I will never look like that, and if that’s my sole motivation for working out, I’m going to end up hating myself in the end.

Excellent post!

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Khushboo January 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

Thanks for your comment :) ! As much as I love to workout, I am not sure I want to reduce my lifestyle to be based around exercise and working towards the “perfect” physique.

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