Saturday, December 1

Not a fitspo blogger

I wear many hats. I am a runner. A traveler. A writer. A weight-lifter. A cross trainer. A statistician by day and a sociology teacher by night. I even write about fitness and outdoor adventures for (Feel free to subscribe!)

But please don't call me a "fitspo blogger" or "fitspirational." Heck, maybe I'm not even a "fitness blogger."

True: I appreciate a good salad, and my go-to breakfast is oatmeal with extra bran and flax.
True: I have not had a soda in years.
True: I work out an average of 6 days per week.

In short, I lead a fit and active life, and there are health-and-fitness blogs I adore.

But in the world of online personalities in which each blogger is trying to outshine others, the terms like "fitspo" and "fitspiration" are frequently distorted to reflect the extremes of diet and exercise.

Friends, I submit to you...

Exhibit A:

Marie Claire article, "The Hunger Diaries: How Health Writers Could Be Putting You at Risk"

Good fitness bloggers provide excellent tips on strength training, nutrition advice about getting enough protein, or suggestions for how to improve speed and endurance for long-distance events. But there is a darker side to "fitness blogging" that glamorizes disordered eating.
...weight-control tips and even cover "food sabotage" (spoiling treats to avoid eating them). Weeks before the 2009 San Diego Marathon, Anderson ate some coconut mousse cake, then destroyed the rest. Younger, who wrote about netting out at 1,100 calories one day, trying to maintain her "happy weight," has described pouring salt on desserts after one bite. In a post about whether this kind of food destruction was "disordered eating," Pare recalled trashing an entire batch of cookies after craving "just one more."
This theme of disordered exercise and eating is particularly pervasive on the fitspo and fitblr tagged posts on Tumblr.

To be fair, there is an obesity epidemic in the United States. Some of the nation's top fit bloggers defend their work, saying:
"The vast majority of Americans aren't anorexic or bulimic. They're overweight and have no idea how to eat healthy," says Boyle. "If they read blogs like mine, maybe they'd learn something." Anderson—who blogged about running a 5K, a 15K, and a marathon race in one weekend—says some readers have told her they've gotten hurt imitating her workouts. "I just assume people have common sense," she says.
Anderson has a point. Just because one blogger can handle high mileage does not mean everyone should try it. Readers need to maintain a level of personal responsibility for their actions.

Moreover, in a free-speech country, bloggers have a right to write about whatever they'd like.

But I have an equal right to be weirded-out by bloggers who sit down for a pre-marathon feast... then hit the gym to "work off the calories" because they "feel fat." (Running 26.2 tomorrow isn't enough? This happens with freakish regularity on certain "fit" blogs.)

I appreciate healthy recipes. (I find black bean brownies fascinating!) But I won't follow bloggers who restrict their caloric intake to < 1,500 calories per day while training for a triathlon.

There are healthy-and-balanced bloggers in the blogosphere, many of whom I love, but the terms like "fitspo" and "fitspiration," are often used to embrace the extremes.

Exhibit B:

The "fitness" pins on Pinterest are out of control. Healthy eating is a noble goal. Disordered eating is not.

The most shocking captions (selected from, literally, hundreds posted within a few hours):
  • "Negative Calorie Foods" (top left)
  • "How to lose body fat while pregnant." (top 2nd from left)
  • "7 days to skinny jeans" (top middle)
Clearly there is no such thing as a negative-calorie food.
A fit pregnancy is a lovely idea, but losing weight while pregnant... um... downright dangerous!
There are no 7 days to anything in a healthy lifestyle.

...and don't even get me started on the bones poking out of the model in the middle. Ugh.

There is nothing fit or healthy about protruding hip bones, weight-obsession, and exercise addiction... yet these images consistently show up in the "health and fitness" section.

Exhibit C:

I find #FatFluential to be the funniest thing on Twitter.

I rest my case:

You can stick me squarely in the not-a-fit-blogger camp.

I'm fit.

I blog.

But I am not a here for fit-spiration.

What's your take on the fit blogger concept? Healthy inspirations or unhealthy extremes?

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