"Training hard - women and fitness for self image"Snap, click, edit, and post. Hashtag “fitspo” “fitspiration” “cleaneats” “cleancheats” etc. Life wellness, nutrition, and fitness have become trendy in the last couple of years due to websites like Instagram and Pinterest, which has positively motivated people to get into “fitspo” aka “fitspiration” worthy shape. We are all guilty of clicking on Pinterest or Instagram and lurking those perfectly sculpted abs of a random girl who is a quote on quote a “lover of fitness” or gawking over a “cleaneats” meal. I for one know I am. I follow about 20 different Instagram pages related to fitness, wellness, and nutrition. When I am snooping around Pinterest, the first category I look at is Health & Fitness. I believe because of these pages and blogs, people have been inspired to “do” health and nutrition. They are so inspiring because the bulk of the users of Instagram are real people. Not Victoria Secret models or Vogue models. They are real life people just wanting and showing their progression of fitness and sharing their knowledge about it in a creative way.

“Fitspiration” includes pictures of women and men living healthy lifestyles in hopes of inspiring others who look at their photo to do the same, either them hiking at an ocean front trail, lifting weights at the gym, or uploading a post workout smoothie blend. Many people post their progressions and how they’ve personally changed their own lives to become health conscious and fit. On Instagram, I love to see the progression of the person’s first post to their most current one. It inspires others that the quote on quote “normal” person can change their unhealthy habits because, let’s be real, we all have unhealthy habits of some sort. It proves that women and men don’t need that A-list personal trainer or chef to get fit and change their life.

LiveFitEatClean, FightForHealthy, HealthyNut, MyHealthyDish, are just a few examples of Instagrams that I follow related to health and nutrition. What people don’t realize is these feeds can be informational. Social media goers do not typically think of Facebook or Instagram to be the most brain stimulating hobby, but they can be wrong. Instagram and Pinterest can provide info on tips on how to be creative in healthy cooking, different types of exercises targeting certain different spots on the body, and super easy recipes. Nutrition and fitness are both a passion of mine and I commend these people for making and keeping up with their posts of Instagrams and Pinterests. It’s hard work. Trust me. I tried to follow in their footsteps by making my own “fitstagram”; little did I know how much work really goes into it! Long story short, it didn’t work out very well.

Some argue that “fitspo” can be dangerous to girls because it often has images of overly thin women, but I think this is more the working of “thinspo” or “thinspiration”. Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., and the director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program believe, “A lot of fitspo is a thinly veiled version of thinspo, promoting the same obsessive tendencies and impossible appearance ideals, and that’s a trap.” The reason for fitspo is to show that you do not have to be skin and bones and the size of a toddler to be fit and healthy. It’s a new generation, and people want to be fit…not anorexic. Valerie Waters, a celebrity trainer and creator of Red Carpet Ready workouts states, “Saying that looking at pictures of fit people could trigger someone’s eating disorder is like saying that that person is not safe in the world, because there are fit people everywhere!”.

“Thinspo” and “fitspo” have distinct differences. While thinspiration is showing pictures of models and mostly just pictures from photo shoots on a white sandy beach in somewhere like Brazil or Hawaii. Fitspiration advocates healthy, real women actually doing exercises and working towards the body that they have or initially want. The pictures usually have motivational sayings or quotes to motivate people to get up and complete the goals they have in their heads. “Eat Clean Exercise Dirty” is an example. I can barely stay seated after hearing that one.

Well, even though the whole “fitstagram” didn’t work out in my favor, I am still an avid fan of all the ones that did work out. Instagram and Pinterest’s fitspirations will continue to give people drive and motivation to “train dirty” for many years to come. Thinspo is out and fitspo is in pretty soon the whole world is going to have to “learn to love the burn”.

 By Cassandra Ahwah, University of Oregon