Fitspo — short for fitness inspiration — is everywhere (especially on social media), and it may be doing us more harm than good. In this episode, we challenge the notion that comparing your body to others is likely to be a positive source of motivation. And we suggest ways of relating more consciously to the Fitspo memes and messages that show up in your own world.

This week on The Living Experiment, we consider the pros and cons of Fitspo, short for fitness inspiration — that stream of idealized body imagery and imperatives that dominates a lot of social media feeds these days.

We question whether this supposedly aspirational torrent of photos, messages and hashtags is doing health seekers more harm than good. We challenge the notion that chasing an aesthetic ideal and comparing your body to others is likely to be a lasting, positive source of motivation. And we explore a demonstrated correlation between increased exposure to social media and lowered self esteem.

We wind up with some simple experiments you can run in your own life as a way of relating more consciously to the Fitspo memes and messages you’re likely to encounter, and as a way of reconsidering the impact they may be having on your own health and happiness.

“Fitspo” Episode Highlights

  • The Fitspo phenomenon that’s flooding our social media feeds (3:25)
  • The important difference between internal and external motivations (5:30)
  • Why Fitspo tends to increase anxiety and lower self-esteem (6:45)
  • How supposedly inspirational pop-culture memes and messages are negatively shaping our self-image (8:15)
  • How to spot and deal with the onslaught of “you’re not good enough” messages we’re slammed with daily (10:30)
  • The problem of chasing superficial body ideals at the cost of your long-term health (14:30)
  • Why buying into a perfect-body fantasy is unlikely to get you what you really want (19:10)
  • Dallas shares his own history as a skinny, scrawny kid, and how he came to terms with his own best body (22:15)
  • Evaluating whether your social media feeds reflect your real-life goals and priorities (24:35)
  • When you’re the one posting Fitspo — how to get more conscious about what you’re sharing, and why (26:40)
  • Experiments for the week (29:40)

Notice the Fitspo images you come across. How do they make you feel about yourself?

  • Pause at images of fit bodies on social media and in advertisements. Ask yourself: Do these make my life better?

Think about ditching social media feeds that don’t match your real-life goals and values. Ask yourself how your own Fitspo posts represent you.

  • Go through your social media channels and consider deleting and un-following any feeds that post images or messages that don’t serve you (and particularly those that make you feel worse about yourself).
  • Look at your own profile and social feeds. What messages are you sending with your fitness posts? Do they reflect who you really are and what you most care about?

Share the Love!

Each week, we offer you a few life-shifting experiments to try on your own. We’d love to hear how they turn out, and what insights they provoke. Connect with The Living Experiment on Facebook and share your stories there.