Houston, we have a (fitness) problem. You’re fat! How’s that for motivation?!

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Social media is great because it opens all sorts of doors to information and opportunities to connect with or follow those that share common interests. I’ve been all over Facebook, Instagram, tumblr, Pinterest and Twitter looking for inspiration. From fitness to healthy eating, it’s all right there to guide and inspire you. But there’s a problem. A big problem. Many popular channels are missing the point! Being better is not about the perfect beach body, before and after pictures or feeling guilty about eating a cheeseburger.

Recently, I’ve been getting frustrated by the messages sent by those trying to inspire us. One of the worst was an unnamed fitness site that celebrated successes by featuring an “athlete of the month.” Sounds harmless enough right? Well, the feature included before and after pictures that didn’t sit right with me. The before shot was a pic of an expecting mother and the after was post baby. This was attempting to show that you can get in shape after a baby but it missed the mark. Are you saying that a pregnant woman is overweight? Out of shape? Of course she is overweight – she’s got another person in her belly! It says nothing about how she feels nor does it give any indication of health. Can’t you be happy and healthy when you are expecting?

Some others that irk me are the 21 day fix (spoiler: it’s not over after 21 days) or the beach body routines designed to get you to the point where you feel comfortable in a swim suit. Those before and after pics are even worse. Many before pics show what appears to be a fairly fit and healthy person and after is the extreme – barely any body fat and of course there are the abs. Again this tells us nothing about the overall health or happiness of the person. They’re probably not happy at all because they feel that they need to fix themselves (in 21 days no less). This isn’t natural, it’s not sustainable and it’s not healthy.

Being better takes time – a lifetime. It’s a never ending journey, a lifestyle change. Not a quick fix. Kudos to those who have changed for the better and props to those who are trying to change for the better, but don’t let these misguided messages be your motivation. And thank you to the trainers, fitness gurus, and all those who try to inspire others. Without those people, we’d have a much tougher time navigating the path to better – just please be mindful of the messages you are sending because, despite your intentions, there is always much more to the story than you can express in those before and after pics. So you still want to be better? Good for you. Do it for you, your health and most importantly your happiness!

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