Say No To The Wedding Diet

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I have always loved weddings. Two people, lucky enough to have found each other in this mad, crazy world, pledge to love, honour, and support each other, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, for the rest of their lives. They share their joy and commitment in a beautiful ceremony in front of all their loved ones. Everyone gets to dress up, eat well, and have fun.

Weddings are truly magical. But, in the past 15 years, they also got nasty. At least for the bride. I remember, when I was a child, brides-to-be talked about how much they loved their fiancé, the delicious foods they planned to serve to their guests, the beautiful location they had chosen for the reception, and all the other myriad details that make planning a wedding both exciting and stressful.

No one talked about weight. No one, regardless of what size they were, ever even thought they had to lose weight for their big day. They just chose a dress that flattered their body type and that was that. Now every bride, regardless of what size they are, goes on a wedding diet.

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Brides-to-be wake up earlier to go to the gym everyday, go on strict diets free of carbs, sugars, fats, and whatever else the diet industry has decided to demonize that year, and, if that doesn’t work, even resort to dangerous diet pills or other drastic and harmful “lose weight fast” programmes some internet guru is selling.

So, what’s changed? What’s prompting women to put their health at risk at what should be the happiest time of their lives? Well, around 2000, the diet, fitness, beauty, and media industries, knowing there’s always a lot of money to be made in promoting unrealistic ideals of beauty, created this new “flaw”. Exploiting the natural desire every bride feels to look her best on her wedding day, these industries have started promoting their own ideal of wedding beauty: thin and flawless.

All of a sudden, bridal magazines featured weight loss and plastic surgery ads, workouts tips to make you lose the last few pounds quickly, the newest cleansing juice to detox, and lists of bloating foods to avoid. TV shows like Bridalplasty and Shedding For The Wedding, where brides-to-be go through hell to win a plastic surgery makeover or lose a few pounds for their big days, started appearing on our TV screens. Fitness and diet experts began creating weight loss programmes aimed at brides-to-be.

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Their goal, supposedly is to help brides wow their groom at the altar. Never mind he was already wowed or he wouldn’t have proposed at all. But, if you go on a wedding diet, there’s a real chance your fiancé may seriously regret popping the question. Your fiancé fell in love with you the way you are. He doesn’t need, nor wants, you to change to please him. He’s pleased when you are well and happy. And diets get in the way of that.

Trying to achieving an unrealistic beauty ideal is stressful and tiring. Dieting deprives your body of the important nutrients it needs (yes, your body needs some carbs, sugar, and healthy fats too to function properly). It takes away the pleasure of eating, which makes you cranky. It leaves you feeling hungry and tired almost all of the time.

It darkens your mood and prevents you from making the best decisions. Planning a wedding is stressful enough as it is. It is even more so on an empty stomach. And it can wreak havoc on your sex life too. It’s difficult to get in the mood and enjoy yourself when you are concentrating on all your “flaws”, wondering what your fiancé may think of them, sure he dislikes them as much as you do (he doesn’t, or he wouldn’t be with you, trust me).

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Wedding diets make the bride miserable. And they make the groom miserable. No wonder men often ask their fiancées to stop dieting. And yet, they are ignored. Brides want to look good on their big day. And they want to look good in the wedding pictures. Those are forever. A permanent reminder of how good they looked on that day.

Problem is,they’ll never look like that again. If you need to go on a strict diet and workout regime to maintain a certain weight, then that’s just simply not the ideal weight for you. Nothing you do will ever change that. But, every time you look at those photos, you’ll wish something could.

So, basically, in the months before your wedding you starved yourself, woke up way too early to exercise, and drank disgusting detox juices just so that you could feel good about yourself on your wedding day and hate yourself for the rest of your life, wishing you could fit at least once more into your bridal dress. Where’s the sense in that?

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There is none. Dieting, unless it is for health reasons and under medical supervision, makes no sense. It makes even less sense when you are getting married. Because that’s the time where the lies of the diet, beauty, fitness, and media industries are revealed. They tell us that we need to look thin and perfect to be loved, and yet, there you are, about to marry the love of your life. So, enjoy it!

It’s that joy that will make you look your best on your wedding day. Have you noticed that the best wedding shots aren’t those that are perfectly orchestrated? That the most beautiful brides aren’t necessarily the thinnest? No, the most beautiful wedding pictures show brides caught unaware, with that huge smile on their faces and twinkle in their eyes.

You won’t get that if you are worrying about the little underarm fat you haven’t managed to get rid of in time for the wedding. You won’t get that by starving yourself, munching only on salads and drinking only lemon water. You won’t get that by running for miles. You won’t get that by shedding two dress sizes to fit into a tiny gown.

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No, that “I’m-marrying-my-soulmate” glow that makes every bride look radiant and beautiful only emanates from within when you are fully enjoying your big day, celebrating the love you and your husband share, together with your friends and family.

So, say not to wedding diets, and reclaim your wedding for the joyous celebration of love and commitment it is supposed to be. And enjoy every moment of it.

What do you think of wedding diets? Have you gone on one or are planning to? Or do you think we should ditch them and just enjoy our big day too?

Are Fitness Magazines Making Us Unhealthy?

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I have already talked about why I’ve stopped reading women’s magazines. They promote an unrealistic idea of beauty that damages women’s self-confidence, often even encouraging dangerous behaviours that harm our health in a futile effort to fit into ever narrowing standards of attractiveness.

But there’s one type of magazine that is even more dangerous. I’m talking about fitness magazines. Women’s magazines are, after all, considered a light, frivolous read. They tell readers what’s in style and give them advice that’s often ridiculous, hoping they’ll buy what’s advertised in their glossy pages.

Although harmful, especially to younger women who haven’t fully developed their ability to think critically, we know better than believing their every word. But fitness magazines are different. They are supposed to be more “serious” reading. Their mission is to make us all healthier. But do they?

Nope. Just a glance at their covers clearly shows that these magazine promote a warped idea of health. One that has very little to do with well-being and ability, and a lot with sexiness and thinness.

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“Fat-proof your life – Research-backed tips to eat smart and stay trim”, “Shed two sizes – the 4 week workout plan”, and “Why lifting weights =a killer body”, are just some of the teasers that have recently appeared on the covers of some of the most popular fitness magazines, next to images of scantily-clad, super photoshopped models and celebrities posing in passive, not active, positions. The emphasis is clearly on looks.

The articles inside are only slightly better. They are peppered with words like “sexy”, “slimmer” and “gorgeous” that have nothing to do with health. They often offer misleading diet information, demonize certain foods and drinks, perpetuate fitness myths, and suggest dangerous, quick, and drastic weight loss plans that could seriously damage our health, not improve it. In particularly vulnerable individuals, they may even trigger an eating disorder.

Even in the features that contain serious and proper health and fitness information, the focus is on physical attractiveness. We are supposed to work out, lift weights and eat healthy to have a gorgeous, fat-free, thin body that will attract male attention, not to improve our health and well-being and live an active, full, long life.

The images that accompany these articles rarely focus on fitness too. Even when they show women engaging in physical activities, they are usually wearing tiny outfits and posing in such a way, with their breasts exposed and bums sticking out, to leave nothing to the imagination. The body is always shown as an object, not an instrument. Again, the emphasis is on sexiness, not health.

Fitness magazines have created, and are normalizing, a new definition of health, one that equates health with thinness and attractiveness, and that sexualizes women’s bodies, perpetuating the harmful belief that they exist only to please men. That’s an oppressive, dangerous idea. It’s even more dangerous when it is presented under the disguise of “health”.

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This warped idea of fitness doesn’t just hurt women. It hurts men. It hurts children. It hurts all of society. When women focus their energy on achieving a distorted idea of health, spending ever longer hours in the gym or following diets that deprive them of important nutrients, making them feel tired and depleted all the time, they don’t have time to pursue their career or influence politics.

They’re unable to take care of themselves and their loved ones, and make a significant contribution to their community and society. They’re disempowered. And they can become ill. Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders are just some of the dangerous problems that have been linked to body dissatisfaction. When women are disempowered and ill, everyone suffers.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you too have a problem with the misleading idea of health promoted by fitness magazines, don’t buy them. Tell your friends why they shouldn’t either. But if you, or they, enjoy them and don’t want to give them up, don’t.

But read them critically. Be aware of how these magazines are spreading dangerous ideas to make a quick buck. When you learn to recognize the nasty, negative messages they are promoting, you’ll be able to enjoy your favourite magazine without falling for them.

What do you think of fitness magazines? Do they hurt or improve our health? Do you read them?

Beauty Should NOT Hurt

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One must suffer to be beautiful.

That’s what every woman is told when she complains about the excruciating pain of waxing her legs, the bunions and corns a day in high heels has left her feet with, or the hunger, dizziness, and nausea she feels when she’s on a too strict diet.

We sighs, wish things were different, and then, the next day there we are again, enduring pain to improve our looks. It’s not like women have much choice. With the exception of makeup and a haircut, pretty much every beauty treatment hurts.

Waxing, threading, diets, peels, botox and derma fillers, plastic surgery, lasers… Every year a new treatment is invented, and, while you can’t be sure of its effectiveness, you can rely on it being painful. Sometimes, even dangerous. We’ve all heard those horror stories about women ending up in hospital with serious waxing injuries, chemical peel burns, or infections from botched botox. Or plastic surgeries gone horribly wrong and diets turned into eating disorders.

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But that doesn’t seem to deter us. We keep spending a lot of money, and time, on anything, however painful and dangerous, that promises to remove our flaws and make us beautiful. Why? Because feeling inadequate, flawed, and worthless hurts a lot more.

We are bombarded, every single day, with millions of images of perfect, flawless, young, and thin women. We know these images are digitally enhanced and manipulated. We know no one, not even the women in those images, look like that in real life.

But they still affect us. They make us wish we had thinner thighs, perter breasts, smoother skin. If we don’t, we feel like we have no business even walking down the street, let alone don a bikini at the beach. We feel like we have a spotlight on us all the time, and are sure that everyone around us is scrutinizing every inch of our bodies, pointing out all our flaws, and wondering why we were allowed to leave the house looking that hideous.

And so we pluck, tweeze, squeeze, peel, diet, and force our feet into shoes that hurt them, all in the hope that, one day, we will finally feel beautiful and worthy of love. But that day never comes. Instead, the standards of beauty keep getting narrower and narrower. Ten years ago, size zero did not exist. Now, it’s not small enough. Hair has become unacceptable anywhere bar the head. A thigh gap is seen as a “must”.

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The media and beauty, diet, and fitness industries keep creating illusions, promoting standards of beauty impossible to achieve in order to make millions. They need to convince women they aren’t pretty enough and destroy their self-esteem so that then they can generously offer them the solutions (which rarely, if ever work) to their problems. Problems those industries have created. In women’s heads.

I don’t want to shame anyone who tried any of these treatments in the pursuit of beauty. I did too. I still tweeze my eyebrows and wear high heels from time to time. But I think it is important to recognize what we are suffering for. If we endure the pain to achieve the happiness and love that we are told only beauty can bring us, then we are setting ourself up for failure and a life of misery.

We need to redefined our definition of beauty. True beauty is not about thin thighs and luscious hair. And it certainly is never painful. True beauty is fun, happy, positive. It is in your soul, and comes from within. It’s about who you are as a human being. Your values and your personality. It’s about love. It’s embracing yourself for who you are and striving to be the best person you can be. True beauty is imperfect, but never flawed.

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There are a lot of ways to learn to embrace true beauty and inspire others to do the same. Here are a few:

  • Refuse to engage in “fat talk” and body shame. Speaking negatively about our own bodies is not just common. It is expected. It’s how women bond these days. But the price is too high. When you say nasty things about your body, you negatively affect your own confidence and negatively impact those around you. So, stop. Refuse to say anything bad aloud and ask your friends to do the same. Soon, those negative voices in your heads won’t be so loud anymore.
  • Be kind. Instead of putting yourself and others down, be positive. Complement the women in your life for their talents, accomplishments, and character traits, like honesty and kindness. Those are the things that really matter, that makes us feel appreciated as human beings, and that encourage us to be the best people we can be.
  • Put yourself in his shoes. Have you noticed that men are never told they have to suffer in the name of beauty? And they don’t worry about every little “imperfection”, like women do. Although the beauty, diet, and fitness industries are starting to target them too, men are a lot less likely to try drastic diets, laxatives, and waxing, especially in their nether regions. So, next time you are thinking of trying some painful treatment, ask yourself: “would my man do this too?” If not, don’t. Chances are what you are trying to fix is not a real problem, but one created by the beauty industry to make a profit.
  • Ask why. Before you go see a plastic surgeon or decide to embark on another diet, ask yourself why you are doing it. Is it because you are ashamed of yourself and the way you look? If so, don’t do it. Shame has never solved anything. It can sometimes be a powerful motivator, but a very dangerous one. Shame is what prompts us to make bad choices – like taxing laxatives to lose weight or try non FDA approved treatments to get rid of any perceived flaws – that only compromise our health.
  • Go on a media ban. Ignoring the media completely is impossible, but try to stay away from as much of it as you can for a week or two. When you then come back to it, you’ll notice how much more carefree you were on your ban, and be more sensitive to the images and messages the media promotes. You’ll notice how unhealthy, unrealistic, and plasticky those airbrushed images really are, and learn to appreciate your body a lot more.
  • Become an advocate. Once you learn to be critical of the media and its messages, help others do the same. When you hear someone say something negative about her appearance, tell her to stop. Tell your friends why you have stopped buying that magazine or watching that TV shows. Share positive body image articles on social media. Starts discussions about the unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by the media on forums. Take every opportunity you can to make people think about these issues.

Beauty shouldn’t hurt. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.

What painful treatments have you tried in the pursuit of beauty?

7 Ways To Practice Daily Body Love

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Body love doesn’t come naturally to too many of us. It didn’t to me. From my early teens to my late ’20s, I hated my body. I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, avoided wearing mini skirts and anything that was just a little bit revealing, and whenever anyone looked at me, I believed they thought “how ugly she is”.

For too long, body hate held me back, and robbed me of the confidence I needed to live my life to the full. It took me years, and a lot of hard work, to start to appreciate my body and all it can do. There are still days when I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, wishing I’d be a bit taller or had bigger eyes. But these days, these negative thoughts occur less and less, and they don’t get me down as much.

That’s because I practice daily body love. There are a lot of ways to do this. Some will work for you better than others, but none are quick fixes. To start loving your body, you need to change your mindset first, and that takes time. But, by practising these tips daily, or at least regularly, your relationship with your body will change for the better.

Here’s what helped me:

1. Stop consuming media that make you feel inadequate

Magazines. TV. Blogs. Social media. Radio. Billboards. The media is all around us. We can’t escape it. But we can chose what to consume and how. I used to be an avid fan of women’s magazines, but it’s been ages since I last read one. They have a few features I like but, mostly, they make me feel inadequate. They’re always telling me I’m too short, too fat, not stylish enough or pretty enough.

So, I ditched them in favour of blogs, such as Gala Darling or Beauty Redefined, that make me feel good about myself and the way I look. It’s so refreshing to be told we don’t have to waste time fitting into a certain narrow Western ideal, and can focus on being the smart, fun, imperfect, and awesome people that we are. It gives such a boost to your self-esteem!

Maybe magazines don’t make you feel bad about yourself. But watching the news makes you scared of travelling alone, making you pass up wonderful work opportunities. Or dealing with Twitter trolls ruins your day. So don’t. If something makes you feel bad and gets you down, you don’t have to consume it.

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2. Don’t hang out with toxic people

Media can be toxic, but so can people. We all have Negative Nellies and Debbie Downers in our lives. Those folks who complain about everything, constantly criticize others, and can’t see the good in anything. They just create unnecessary stress for you, and their comments can seriously erode your self-esteem and confidence. So, if you can, avoid them.

Break contact gradually if you don’t want to upset them, but do it. If you can’t, because they’re family members or colleagues you see almost daily, you can limit your interactions with them to a minimum. Then, when someone starts complaining, ask them how they are thinking of fixing the problem. That usually shuts them up. It that doesn’t work, find an excuse to get away.

Whatever you do, don’t pity them or sympathize with them. That’s just what they want, and by so doing, you’ll encourage them to continue ruining their, and everyone else’s, life. Instead, hang out more with positive people who encourage, inspire, and support you. You’ll become a lot happier, resilient, and motivated to reach your goals.

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3. View food as fuel

We are what we eat, and we eat what we are. If you use food for comfort, you’ll eat way too much (often of the wrong stuff too), only to regret it and loathe yourself afterwards. If you see food as an enemy, you won’t eat enough or deprive yourself of important nutrients your body badly needs to function properly.

Question your relationship with food, and what’s behind it. Are you trying to fill an emotional void? What can you do to fix the problem without using food? Then, get educated about nutrition. Find out what different foods do for your body, and the physical and psychological effects they have. Do they give your body the energy it needs, or do they have the opposite effect? Once you start viewing food as fuel, following a healthy, balanced diet becomes a lot easier.

4. Do The Work

Developed by Byron Katie, The Work is a way of identifying and questioning any negative thought that runs through your mind. You just have to ask yourself these four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?

Doing The Work is uncomfortable at first, but it really helps put negative thoughts in perspective, and then they won’t affect you as much. You’ll be free to be the person you would be without that thought, the person that you truly are.

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5. Look at yourself naked in the mirror

I know, I know. This feels so weird and uncomfortable, but it can really help you love your body. How? Rather than look away quickly as you catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror, look at your body and say aloud what you love about it. If you struggle to find something nice to say, start by focusing on one body part, and tell it that you love it.

“Dimpled cellulite thighs, I love you!” Even if you don’t believe it, say it anyway, and continue till you do. Then, think about of what that body part does for you. Our legs allow us to walk, run, and jump. Focus on the good, not the “bad” (or what we’ve been conditioned to see as bad). Our bodies are instruments, not ornaments.

6. Use your body in new ways

Try yoga. Take up a new sport. Enrol in a dance class. Go mountain trekking. Learn to climb trees. Find new ways to move and use your body. You’ll be amazing at what it can do.

7. Hang confidence enhancing posters on your walls

A quick search on Etsy turns up hundreds of motivational posters that inspire you while making your house look prettier too. If you’re the artsy type, you can make your own posters. Write something like “You are amazing”, or “Be your beautiful self” in bright bold letters on a canvas, frame it, and hang it on your wall. Or you can write yourself love notes and leave them on your desk, your car, your bedside table. It sounds silly, but this constant exposure helps rewire your brain and help it look and feel about your body differently, in a much more positive light.

Do you practice daily body love? If so, how?

What Do You Love About Yourself?

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We live in a world that constantly tells us we aren’t good enough. We should be thinner, taller, more intelligent, have smoother skin, earn more money… We are constantly encouraged to reach for standards that are impossible to achieve. And all so that companies can sell us stuff that we don’t need.

When we focus on what others (who?) think we should be, we lose sight of our qualities, our strengths, our accomplishments, and the many things that make us special and unique.

So, when you feel a bit down, grab pen and paper and write down all the things you love about yourself. It may be difficult at first, especially if you’re used to putting yourself down. This exercise may feel like boasting and make you cringe.

But I suggest you do it anyway. To feel good about yourself, you must appreciate yourself and realise what an amazing person you are. Your confidence will grow. Your will become happier and you’ll be able to achieve bigger and more amazing things.

To get your juices flowing, here are a few things that are on my list:

My sense of humour
My unquenchable thirst for knowledge
My willingness to challenge myself, change, and evolve
My compassion
My honesty
My willingness to help those in need
My refusal to compromise my values and do what I believe to be wrong
My ability to translate complicated ideas into something easy to understand
My green eyes
My taste in music
My ability to take criticism
The way I spend hours reading
The way I defend and support my loved ones
The way that I recycle
That I can write
I’m a good listener
I’m open-minded
I’m thoughtful

What do you love about yourself?

5 Reasons Why Fitspo Is Unhealthy

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I spend way too much time on Pinterest. It’s a great resource for inspiration about anything. How to decorate your bedroom. What to wear with your new yellow crop sweater. What new haircut you should try next. How to find motivation to stop spending so many hours sitting on the couch watching TV and start being more active.

The latter has a name. Fit inspiration, or Fitspo. Images involving beautiful, super fit women, often accompanied with motivating phrases like “the voice in your head that says you can’t do this is a liar”, and “never give”. They seem innocuous enough, and a great way to inspire people to get healthier.

And some of them are. But too often, rather than a healthy desire to lead a more active life, these images induce body shame and hate, undermine self-esteem, and perpetuate the message that a woman’s value is based only on her looks. Here’s how:

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1. Fitspo promotes impossible to achieve ideals

Just like women’s magazines, Fitspo encourages us to compare ourselves to others, which is never healthy. It is even less so when the ideal you are encouraged to strive for is unachievable. Fitspo promotes only one body type, and the girls who appear in those photos are chosen because theirs conforms to this advertised ideal of beauty and already exercise a lot.

Even then, they are usually very young, undergo fitness and dieting regimes for a few days before the photoshoots, and have their images taken by professional photographers using short-term “peaking” techniques. But only after a makeup artist and stylist have used their skills to hide their flaws (that’s if they get to show their faces at all).

And what can’t be hidden, can be deleted with photoshop. That’s also how their waists are made smaller, their breasts bigger, and every inch of their body altered to make them look fitter and slimmer. But even if these images weren’t digitally altered, no one can achieve someone’s else body type. A short, pear-shaped girl will never become tall and with a tiny waist, no matter how much she exercises or how little she eats.

And that’s ok. Everyone has a different body type, and they are all beautiful. But Fitspo ignores that. Just like it ignores that our bodies have different limitations, and different fat storage systems. Most importantly, it ignores the fact that women are more than their bodies, and that we should be valued for our goodness, intelligence, and achievements, not the way we look.

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2. Fitspo perpetuates fitness myths

Even when we realize we’ll never look like the models and athletes in those photos, we still believe the lie that losing weight is simply a matter of eating less and exercising more. And if that doesn’t work, it’s because we’re weak and lazy. If only we had more willpower, we would achieve our goals. That’s a lie. Weight loss is more complicated than that. Socio-economic factors, stress, bad habits, hormones, and genetics can all affect your weight, and all need to be tackled if you really need to lose some. Eating less and less and exercising more and more will just make you ill.

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3. Fitspo encourages us to exercise for the wrong reasons

Working out is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It improves both your health and your mood. But that’s not what Fitspo usually focuses on. It tells you to work out to “make your supporters proud and your enemies jealous,” implying that a tight arse or a flat tummy, nor your brains or good heart, are desirable characteristics highly valued by your friends and who make your better and worthier than your enemies.

Worse, Fitspo often reduces women to sexy eye candy for leering men. Images rarely show the whole body. Heads and legs are usually cut off, implying that these body parts aren’t really that important. That women’s job is not to think or talk, but just to look sexy. Often, these women don’t even wear gym clothes, but just a bikini, underwear, or nothing. Even when they’re dressed, they are usually pictured in sexy poses that objectify women. The message is clear: we should exercise to be sexually attractive to men, not to be healthy.

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4. Fitspo can trigger eating disorders

Charlotte Hilton Andersen, author of The Great Fitness Experiment, believes that “fitspo may be thinspo in a sports bra.” So do I. Thinspo, or thin inspiration, are pictures of very thin women used as willpower motivation for eating disorders like anorexia. Fitspo is supposed to be healthier. After all, it tells you to exercise and eat healthy, which are very good things. But in moderation. If you exercise too much, and keep going even when your body is too tired, you’re going to seriously injury yourself.

And demonizing food can lead to eating disorders. A diet based on hamburgers, french fries, and cupcakes will make you ill and overweight, but in moderation, they don’t do any harm. But Fitspo makes you think otherwise. It tells that, if you want to be fit, you can’t eat anything tasty and, if you’re still not losing weight, it is because you’re still eating too much. For some people, these messages can trigger eating disorders, such as anorexia and orthorexia.

Lesser known than other eating disorders, orthorexia (the term was coined in 1997) starts with a genuine desire to eat healthy, but sufferers soon become so obsessed with it to the point of worsening the quality of their lives and even putting their health at risk. They may start by becoming vegetarians or vegans (nothing wrong with that), but soon the amount of foods on their blacklists becomes so long that they can’t eat anything that’s not “pure” and that important nutrients are left out of their diets. And that’s never a good thing. Our bodies need all nutrients, including fats and carbs, to function properly.

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5. Fitspo undermines your self-esteem to sell you stuff you don’t need

Have you ever wondered who creates a lot of these images, and why? Sports brands like Nike, gyms, work out DVDs, and anyone else in the fitness industry profits by these images. Images that depict beautiful toned women, often without heads, in alluring poses. At first glance, these shots, and the accompanying slogans, may seem empowering, but in reality they are designed to make you feel bad about yourself. To lower your self esteem and make you feel like you’re not good enough until you look a certain way.

And to achieve that, you’ll have to buy their DVDs, or sneakers, or whatever else they’re trying to sell you. That’s why women’s waists and thighs are getting smaller and smaller every year. The goals must be unachievable because, should you ever become comfortable in your own body and love the way you look, you’ll stop working out so hard and so often. And their profits will collapse.

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Of course not all Fitspo is bad. Some photos can really inspire you to stop spending so much time on your sofa watching TV and start being more active so you can be healthier.

How do you know when fitness motivation is healthy?

When it focuses on health, fun, and a balanced lifestyle rather than looks, sex, and dangerous extremes.

When it makes you feel excited about working out rather than miserable for not looking hot enough.

When the goal is to be healthy, not skinny with muscles.

Only when you take good care of your body, rather than trying to change it, you can truly be healthy and happy.

What do you think of Fitspo?