A few months ago, I read an awesome piece about so-called ‘inspirational’ fitness posts on Pinterest; unfortunately, I can’t relocate the blog post.  But the author wrote that instead of feeling inspired by certain images, she thought they were promoting restrictive/compulsive/unhealthy behaviors under the guide of ‘being your best’ (does anyone know what blog post I’m talking about?).  This is not the same article, but it sums up the philosophy quite nicely:  Why Fitspiration Isn’t So Inspirational.


The authors of both blogs are talking about Pins like this – it’s not just the images but also the text.  And sometimes it’s the combo of the images and the text.  And of course it depends on the perspective of the person looking at the pin.

fitness inspiration

So.  I’m not saying that those pins are “bad” or “wrong.”  Maybe that kind of stuff works for you.  Maybe it reeeeeally motivates you in a positive way.  Everyone is different. 


But, like the authors of those blog posts, those images don’t have that positive impact on me.  That stuff makes me feel bad on numerous levels – if I internalize the messaging.  I understand the sentiment (short-term sacrifices for long-term gains are typically true in all areas of life), but this messaging makes me feel like we’re confounding health with hotness… and that version of health is about deprivation.  And super muscular, super skinny is the only acceptable way for my body to look.  Sometimes, I can get behind the text alone, but then the image ruins it for me.


So a while back, I started a board on Pinterest called Non-Warped Fitness Inspiration Pics.  I try to fill it with motivational stuff, positive images, happy quotes, and funny clips – like this:








I notice that the Pins that inspire me the most address concepts like:  staying committed, having fun with fitness, making positive choices, having a good attitude, and reinforce the idea that you don’t have to be perfect.


I’d love to add some more pins to my board!  What Pins really inspire you? Link away! Do you like the super sexy woman pins or do they just not do it for you?



  • katie July 3, 2014, 7:53 am

    thanks for sharing these! i agree with your thoughts… the so-called ‘inspirational’ pins are generally the opposite for me; i prefer something with humor or goal-oriented inspiration, rather than the idea that being skinny and ripped is the end goal.

  • Eileen July 3, 2014, 8:22 am

    First off, I love the examples of the images you posted — perfect blend of humor and motivation! If I had a Pinterest account (it’s not for me), I’d follow you (if that’s the right terminology).

    As far as the other images…I guess I just chalk it up to ‘there an audience for everything’ but recognizing (and removing) things that don’t bring enjoyment/good feelings/positivity into your life is important.

    Looking at beautiful homes in magazines that I’ll never be able to afford doesn’t really affect me in any way, but sometimes human ‘perfection’ toys with our heads. All very interesting and it was helpful to learn what things do that to me.

    Really enjoy your posts!

  • Emily July 3, 2014, 8:39 am

    I agree with you, Caitlin. The images make the quotes seem condescending and unattainable. Why should fitness always be associated with being a “hot babe” or a “hulk”. I hated P.E. At school for this exact reason. Why can’t fitness be about enjoyment, endorphins, fresh air and having fun in good company. Those “ripped” motivational memes seem to be all about exclusion.

  • heather July 3, 2014, 9:35 am

    Different strokes for different folks. We all have different reasons for working out, just as much as we all like different forms of fitness and have different goals. It makes sense to me that what inspires or motivates some might not do the same for others, but I don’t think that makes it bad or wrong. I like the first images you shared, my fitness goal is to be more ripped and I believe there is an abundance of truth in the quotes “if we quit every time we felt uncomfortable we would’t achieve anything” and “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now”. However, I am not the type of person to look at something like that and analyze it to the point of thinking it is saying something bad about how I look or allowing it to make me feel bad about myself. The images/quotes you shared are nice and warm and fuzzy, but they don’t particularly motivate me to go smash my PR or improve my time on something. I like a little fire, a little “eye of the tiger” if you will. 🙂

    • Liz July 5, 2014, 10:19 pm

      Just to play devil’s advocate for a minute – those girls in the first images aren’t particularly ripped. They’re just…thin. I totally hear what you’re saying and agree that different things motivate different people, but ripped certainly doesn’t always = thin.

  • Haley July 3, 2014, 9:39 am

    So glad you wrote this – those kinds of pins have bothered me for a long time, and I don’t think we do ourselves (or other women) any favors at all by posting them! Go girl…keep it up!

  • Anne Weber-Falk July 3, 2014, 10:33 am

    I do enjoy the humorus ones, like the leg day dog, and many of the inspirations through word only. I do find that inspiration pins affect me in different ways depending on my mood. If I’m feeling negative about my looks, seeing a lean, sweaty woman in a skimpy bikini just irritates me. It makes me think “give me a break”. On the other hand, seeing a strong, athletic-looking woman that is more covered up makes me think “yeah, I can do that”. One of my favorite movies that really inspires me to get off that couch is Personal Best. Not for the acting but for the shots of the women working hard to reach their goal. When I watch the characters running up that sand dune it makes me think that I can do that too, even if reaching that sort of goal is miles away.

  • Lara July 3, 2014, 10:39 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time (since Henry was born!) but have never commented before. This post inspired me to do so. I completely agree with what you’re saying here. To me, there is a line between fitspiration and thinspiration…but both go back to body image and the message that your body isn’t good enough until it looks like this really thin chick or this really jacked chick. The body revolution has just replaced the “feminine ideal” of thin to fit (which usually means thin with muscles). I think we need to emphasize health above all, and finding happiness in exercise, be it yoga, or running, or weight-training, or etc. So, thanks for this! It’s not a topic typically discussed by healthy living bloggers, so I appreciate your courage in bringing it up!

    • Aerevyn July 3, 2014, 11:09 am

      Fitspriration vs thinspiration. Bang on.

  • Victoria July 3, 2014, 10:46 am

    I definitely agree with you on this point. I feel like these images really tend to make me feel down about myself. I workout regularly and I make a point to try to eat as healthy as possible, but my body looks nothing near the images of these women. Those pictures can really get to you because it makes you feel less or not good enough because you don’t have that ‘perfect’ body. They tend to perpetuate the idea that there is one image of a perfect body, and if your body does not conform to that ideal, then you are doing something wrong or not trying hard enough.

  • Aerevyn July 3, 2014, 10:47 am

    Love this question.

    Am I strong because I’m sexy, or am I sexy because I’m strong?

    I do adore the woman in the bikini. I’ve been slacking lately, and it gave me a kick in the backside. But I want to be motivated by feeling awesome, being positive, bursting with energy, a life of balance. And I think sexiness is more than being a hot package.

  • Davita July 3, 2014, 10:52 am

    Thanks for these! I love that they are so focused on performance and effort – not a body that may not be attainable! Pinspirations that leave you feeling worthless aren’t worth having; I’m definitely following your board now as a starting point for some high quality inspiration.

  • Samantha July 3, 2014, 10:56 am

    These are awesome! I’m following your board now. Those other types of pins aren’t inspirational for me either. They also aren’t very realistic (at least for me and my lifestyle).

  • Sarah July 3, 2014, 12:37 pm

    Interesting topic! I do find images of athletic, strong women more inspiring than just quotes. There is a lot of proven value in visualization when it comes to reaching goals and these images help me stay motivated in a positive way.

    Of course, I don’t deal with body image issues and I can see how these images could be negative for those who do.

  • Kelly @ Finding a Skinnier Me July 3, 2014, 1:55 pm

    Amen! Seriously, I have been staring at the so called inspirational pins with women with perfect muscles and heart shaped booties just disappointed. So you are telling me that if I don’t have a 6 pack or heart shaped booty, I am not fit or healthy?! Ugh! I tend to post things that speak to me about loving myself and that is why I exercise.

  • Lori July 3, 2014, 2:07 pm

    The article is from beauty redefined. Here’s the article, http://www.beautyredefined.net/why-fitspiration-isnt-so-inspirational/

    • Caitlin July 3, 2014, 2:08 pm

      No that’s not it – but I linked to that one in the first paragraph! It’s a good one. The one I’m thinking of was a woman’s personal blog. And the post was super sarcastic and funny!

  • Lori July 3, 2014, 2:49 pm

    The thing about the internet is that everyone has exposure to WAY TOO MANY different types of opinions and things. Similar to the way older forms of media started affecting the self image of many, it’s multiplied by a gagillion with the internet! I think it’s the responsibility of the reader/viewer to steer clear of images/messages that make them feel bad about themselves. It seems like so many people need the rest of the world to be sensitive to their specific situation, to use sensitive language about every subject, to include everyone, pat everyone on the head, and on and on and on… This will never happen on this thing called the internet; maybe from some sources, but not all. People that want treatment like that should seek out the support they’re looking for in appropriate places, and if they encounter something on the internet that they disagree with or that makes them feel bad, I think that’s their deal. They shouldn’t internalize it. Not everything can be about them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an idealist and I wish everyone felt loved and happy and warm and fuzzy, make love not war, equality for all…. But I understand that the world is just not that way, and I don’t think we should expect to feel personally validated from everyone on Earth.

    • Caitlin July 3, 2014, 2:51 pm


  • Breanne July 3, 2014, 3:40 pm

    I have a board of “Motivate Me” and most are more like what you posted. There are some with human images, but even those to me feel like the focus is more of the saying versus the image (e.g. http://workout-girl.tumblr.com/post/6810901219). This is probably one of my favorites on my board: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/218635756880343236/

  • Rosamund July 3, 2014, 7:55 pm

    I love your idea of having a pinterest board for nonwarpped pics! My problem with these ‘fitsporation’ messages is that they are often focused on an impossible goal and give the idea that you have to work through pain, injury and sickness to achieve it. One of my least favorites is the one which states ‘you can cry, you can throw up but you can’t give up.’ What a terrible thing to tell people! There is a fantastic podcast on this subject on the Stuff Mom Never told You channel, I believe the title is ‘is fitspo unhealthy for women?’ They point out that a lot of these pins build up confidence by tearing down another body type. For example when they say ‘strong is the new skinny’, a negative message is sent to women with smaller frames who can’t necessarily gain big muscles. The podcast is definitely worth listening to!

    • Carina July 7, 2014, 2:28 pm

      To me, this comment is absolute proof that different things work for different people. The “you can cry, you can throw up but you can’t give up” one is one of my favorites! Yes, I have a tempo or track run every single Thursday for about 14 weeks, and yes, during that workout, there are numerous times I want to cry, think I’m going to hurl, and honestly consider bagging the workout and just running some easy miles, but in the end, that doesn’t help me attain my running goals. I think it’s just that there are so many different goals out there. Some people want to just run marathons to finish, or with their friends, or to beat Oprah. Other people are chasing a challenging PR or goal, trying to BQ, trying to break 3, trying to qualify for the trials, etc. It just makes sense to me that some people want the “work hard” quotes, other people want the “one run away from a good mood” quotes.

  • Nicole @ Squash on Squash July 3, 2014, 8:58 pm

    I think that there are a lot of different perceptions of “fit” and “healthy” out there. Personally, I don’t find the super skinny pictures on Pinterest motivating, but I do however find the fit, athletic and toned girls’ pictures
    Inspiring. I do however think that this is not always a realistic goal for many women, and therefore it shouldn’t be seen as “the ideal”.

  • Kaila @healthyhelperblog! July 3, 2014, 10:09 pm

    I wrote a post on this a few months back! Maybe it was mine? http://healthyhelperblog.com/2013/12/08/changeourfitspiration-wrap-up/

  • MomHTP July 3, 2014, 10:22 pm

    After heavy yard work today, I’m in bed reading your blog…feeling like the leg day dog. I like humor with my workout pain. I really am inspired by the thought that time will pass no matter if I’m working on a goal or doing nothing.
    So it happened – Henry’s a free “man”! Are you going to put a chain lock on his door so you’ll have time to get to him before he gets somewhere he shouldn’t 😉 ? He’s a precious handful.

  • Ann July 4, 2014, 9:09 pm

    I read blogs of women who overdo the workout motivation thing, who seem to eat too little for all the crossfit/bodypump/yoga/running/etc. they do and honestly, don’t even try to comment on their blog to say something. They are obsessive and don’t realise it sadly — sometimes I quit reading them. It’s a big problem in the “healthy-living-food-blog” world, it’s difficult to find blogs with a good balance, and a healthy relation with life/food/love/sports/knowlegde, etc. They are a lot of narcissistic behavior, and it’s difficult to draw the line between the blog being a leisure, a work or a place to live neuroses… Well, it is sad sometimes for these girls. I hope they find peace and get off the internet. (I don’t think it’s your case :)) But it is just my opinion on this friday night.

  • Sue July 7, 2014, 3:22 am

    I went and looked at my pins and I dont have any that have the fit, thin models. This pin is my current fave.. http://www.pinterest.com/pin/236227942929284198/

  • Jessie July 8, 2014, 7:34 pm

    I’d add that there’s an awful lot of this going on on instagram too. I found myself following several accounts for “inspiration” and ended up feeling pretty awful after scrolling through my feed. Once I took a step back I saw that a lot of these accounts are rather disordered/unhealthy imo.

  • Rebecca July 12, 2014, 7:59 am

    My favorite goes something like your body made children, it can put one foot in front of the other for 13.1 miles!

Healthy Tipping Point