We see it everywhere on social media, a picture-perfect picture of some influencer showing off their toned abs and flexing their muscles.
It sometimes motivates us to get up and do some crunches or go for a short run. But most of the time, these pictures only spark a feeling of jealousy and temporary depression.
How many times have you looked at a photo like that and thought, "I wish I looked like that?"
Some influencers are leading an online movement called "Fitspo" or "fitness inspiration," where they share everything about fitness with their followers, working out, healthy diet, and staying in shape. But it is not as healthy as they think it is.
This trend has deviated from its original purpose of motivating people to become healthier, leading to an unrealistic, often unattainable, body image.
Amanda Lekland, a former fitspo influencer, has spoken out and shared her personal experience with the movement.
She currently uses her popular social media accounts to spread body positivity and debunk Instagram lies.
Thanks to the shared effort between Amanda and her boyfriend, she first went viral back in 2015.
They would reward each other with a loving kiss after whatever workout they did. The couple became famous as a result of this. It wasn't, however, a sustainable lifestyle for Amanda.
For them, working out would always come first.
"For me, this wasn't healthy. It didn't make me love myself more—quite the contrary. I became aware of every little detail on my body and obsessed on how to change it.
And because we tend to celebrate this kind of content on social media, it's hard to spot unhealthy, obsessive behavior.
Fitspo, as Amanda says, may lead the influencer to adopt extreme lifestyle habits, but since people think that what they do is best for their well-being, they get stuck in it for a long time.
"You've spent years starving yourself. Or maybe you've been throwing up your meals. But now, you're strong and healthy. You're all about counting your calories and macros."
Praise keeps influencers going. It also keeps them stuck in a toxic cycle of trying to meet unrealistic expectations.
Because of the attention influencers receive, they feel obliged to work out and keep a "healthy" diet.
"You're gaining some muscle, and people around you applaud you for your results. You are dedicated and disciplined."
It's hard to show your followers that you've put on some weight or even that you had a baby. You only want to see appreciation and compliments, so you keep showing them what they want to see, not what they should see!
Amanda talked about: the "fitspo cage." She implies that people overdo fitspo so much that they get trapped by this seemingly healthy lifestyle, striving towards unattainable standards.
"You are still obsessive about food, workouts, and your body. You still have anxiety about missing one workout and don't allow yourself to eat certain types of food."
For Amanda, it was an endless cycle.
Truth Is One-sided On Social Media
Amanda is now taking to her Instagram to show people the big difference between fake Instagram poses and actual reality poses.
This includes pulling up the sides of the swimsuit or underwear to hide any "rolls."
Because she works in an eating disorder clinic, Amanda can actually see how easily Instagram pictures can have a negative effect on young girls. She said:
"I can actually get so tired of social media sometimes. Since I work at an eating disorder clinic, I see the way young girls are so pressured to look a certain way it has gone too far."
Too much of anything is bad, including working out. Amanda still works out, but she does so in moderation, which is the healthiest way to do it.
"Your life is more than a workout. If you need a break, take it. The gym will still be there. Don't worry. Do what feels best for YOU!"
Be careful who you follow!
"It is SO IMPORTANT to be picky with who you follow. You might not think that social media is affecting you, but if your brain is exposed to perfection day in and day out... [Of course] that's gonna leave a mark."
Angle is everything!
"You have to remember that everyone chooses what to post. They have probably taken 200 photos that didn't make the cut."