Fitspo and Why I'll Never Post A Half-Naked Gym Selfie

The word 'selfie' makes me cringe.  What's worse is what fitspo (a.k.a. fitness inspiration) has become these days.  I mean really.  You're telling me girls actually work out wearing this, or that an image of a half-naked woman with probably-photoshopped abs (or at least filtered and enhanced) is going to motivate someone enough to clean up their diet and get to the gym or that fitness class?  I think not.

Fitspo and Why I'll Never Post A Half-Naked Gym Selfie

Fitspo is polluting the internet these days with countless images like the ones linked above and it makes. me. sick.  As a fitness professional, there's nothing more UNprofessional than posting pics that might as well be soft-core porn on social media under the guise of inspiration and accountability.  Not to mention the pictures with the 'motivational' messages like "once you see results, it becomes an addiction," or "nothing tastes as good as being fit feels."  Actually, exercise addiction is a very real issue and something that shouldn't be taken lightheartedly.  A balanced diet that includes some treats every now and then is part of a healthy relationship with food.  These messages are out in full force and are doing more harm than good by creating unrealistic ideals.

Fitspo Is Insidious At Best

In my opinion, these messages are insidious.  They're everywhere and after seeing them day in and day out, eventually they're hard to ignore.  You might think okay, I will do this.  I will make it to the gym or do this workout if it kills me because society is telling me I need to be that thin.  (But 'that thinis borderline anorexic.)  After a while, you see some more images with ripped abs and a barely-covered perky backside and think that's what you need to look like in order to be accepted in this world.  (But those abs and glutes are so digitally enhanced, they're beyond realistic for anyone!)

Why the Half-Naked Pictures Matter...

There's no denying that fitness has recently become more of a glamorized trendy endeavor for the young.  Everyone and their friends are posting pictures of their latest sweat sessions.  So, what about these porn-like pictures (I mean "selfies") that are in every Instagram and Facebook feed?  You know, the ones of girls lifting up their shirts in the locker rooms to show off their midsection, or posing for the camera with severe lordotic lumbar posture in order to accentuate their backside.  What messages are those pictures sending?  I'd argue that they're no better than the 'motivational' messages mentioned before.  

Everyone's body is built differently, and you can't hold yourself to the same standards as a picture you see in passing on the internet.  It is, after all, a picture and not the actual person standing in front of you.  You don't know how doctored that image is or what that person's fitness journey has been up to that point.  What's more is that these photos are turning what should be a pursuit of health and self-love into a sexed up competition for whose body is harder.

... And Why I'll Never Post One

This might be the more personal part of this blog post, but I don't see the point in posting those types of pictures myself.  Like I mentioned at the beginning, I think there's something very UNprofessional about posting a snapshot in your underthings to show off muscle gains.  Sure, I do post the occasional bicep flex or shoulder pic (and I suppose one could make the argument that that's along the same lines), but what I'm talking about is the porn-i-fied photos of midsections and butts that young fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and trainers seem to love.  Do these pictures make them any more knowledgable as a trainer?  Do they promote their services and encourage people to contact them because of how they look?  Maybe on a very rare occasion, but I'd argue that the majority of the time, these pictures are scaring people away and turning people off.  As an instructor, that's the last thing I want.  My goal is to be seen as a professional who helps others on their fitness journeys.  Pictures of me in a sports bra and underwear don't help anyone.

Bottom Line: Make Health the Goal

Instead of setting the standard with a 6-pack and unhealthily low body fat percentage, we should be focusing on how our bodies feel and what they can do for us.  Focus on curing the cardiovascular disease.  Focus on developing proper movement patterns.  Focus on gaining muscle and increasing flexibility in order to make quality of life better (i.e. decreased lower back pain, improved posture, reduced body fat, which lightens the load placed on the knees and ankles.)  The list goes on.  Instead of glorifying the sexed-up super-fit, focus on health.  Focus on getting your body where it needs to be in order to live your best life possible.

Readers: chat with me!  What's your take on fitspo?  Do you find it motivating or a turn-off?  If you find it uninspiring and could replace one message with a positive one, what would it be?  What DOES motivate you and fuel your fitness goals?  

Instead of posting related blog posts here, I wanted to point your attention towards some other amazing articles and blog posts on this topic.  If you have a minute, they're worth the read:

Cert By Selfie by Amanda Vogel via ideafit.com
Why 'Fitspo' Should Come With A Warning Label by Rebecca Adams via The Huffington Post
Change Our Fitspo by Kaila Proulx via The Healthy Helper Blog

Get Paid for Your Healthy Choices with Wellcoin

Get Paid For Your Healthy Choices title.jpg

Happy New Year to you all! 

With the turn of a new year comes new resolutions (or as I like think of them: SOLUTIONS - more on that later this week).  If I had to guess, most of you out there have goals related to fitness and living a healthier life this year.  Those goals come in all shapes and sizes, too: joining a new fitness class, getting into strength training, practicing yoga, eating healthier, getting enough sleep... the list goes on and on.  I bet a lot of you are saying that this year will be THE year that you don't fall off the bandwagon.  You're going to commit.  GOOD FOR YOU!  But are you really?  What happens after 3 months of trying?  Are you going to stick with it through the cold seasons, through the summer vacations, through the holidays of 2016?

If you're needing a little more motivation to hold yourself accountable this year, there's a new fitness app out there that I'm excited to tell you about.  It's called Wellcoin.  It's an app that pays you to live healthy.  You can earn coupon codes and gift cards for a bunch of health & fitness related gear - Dick's Sporting Goods, 20% off Reebok sale items, free fitness classes, and more.  Before we get into that though, let me tell you how the app works and show you a bit more about it.

How It Works:

Wellcoin is similar to social media in that you have a community of people who can view, comment on, and "like" your activity.  I like to think of it as a less filtered Instagram meets a fitness accountability log.  You sign into your account, choose an activity you just completed for which you want to earn coins, upload a picture, and post it to the Wellcoin community.  If you made the post public, people in the community can rate the activity (based on how well it fits your description & categorization) in order for you to earn additional coins.  There are also options to post to Twitter and Facebook to earn additional coins too (+1 for each).  Here are some activity examples:

Wellcoin Healthy Activities

All of those are pretty awesome, but the best one I find is logging your workouts.  You get 10 coins for every 10 minutes and you can choose from a variety of activities like resistance training, fitness classes, pilates, etc.  So a good 60-minute workout will earn you 60 coins right off the bat, plus a few more if you add in the extras like location, who you were with, and share it to social media.  You can also log non-traditional fitness/health activities like buying healthy groceries (5WC per $10), cleaning the house (5WC per 10min), spending time with your kids (10WC), and checking your blood pressure (5WC).

click the profile image above to connect with me!

click the profile image above to connect with me!

Another nice thing about Wellcoin is that you can link it to other apps and devices like Runkeeper and Fitbit.  I can't really speak to these since I don't have either, but I see people earning coins using these apps all the time!  One device I hope they allow a connection with in the near future is the Apple Watch.  I received one for Christmas (and LOVE it so far!), but there isn't a way for me to connect it to pull my daily activity, steps, sleep, etc. automatically.  Here's hoping they jump on that bandwagon soon!

Once you earn enough Wellcoins, you can cash them in for some pretty sweet deals.  I've been eyeing a few for a while now: $10 gift card to Sports Authority and 20% off sale items at Reebok.  They have other awesome deals like free fitness classes, deals on food products & subscription services, and more.  

Wellcoin purchases I'm eyeing

Wellcoin purchases I'm eyeing

Fair warning, though: since Wellcoin is a Boston-based company, most of the in-person redemptions like classes and in-store coupons are only good in the greater Boston area (at least for right now), so pay attention to the fine print when you check out the Marketplace.  This is another area I hope they expand on, because Whole Foods gift cards would be amazing, but they're not good for anything if I have to travel to Boston to use them!

Bonus Coins for Blog Readers!

That's right!  You guys will all get a 500-coin bonus for signing up using the code "infitinhealth". Note: bonus coins are only added if you choose the "sign up with email" option, not through Facebook.  You can click the link above (or the image below) to be directed to the sign up page where you can create an account with a username, password, profile picture, bio, etc.  From there, all you need to do is start snapping photos of your healthy choices and upload them to the Wellcoin community!  If you do sign up, make sure to connect with me, too!  

Click on the image above to sign up for Wellcoin and earn your 500 bonus coins!

Click on the image above to sign up for Wellcoin and earn your 500 bonus coins!

Readers: chat with me!  Have you heard of Wellcoin?  Do you think it will help you with your New Year's SOLUTIONS?  If you already use it, has it helped keep you accountable?  Have you redeemed any coins yet?  What are some of your goals for 2016?

Disclosure: I am a Wellcoin Ambassador, however I was not compensated to write this post.  Some images were provided to me via Wellcoin to share here on the blog, and others are my own.  My goal for this post is to share an accountability and motivational resource in hopes of helping you start and stick with your health & fitness goals.

5 Couch Exercises to do During A Commercial Break

Confession: I've been binge-watching Scandal on Netflix for the past few weeks.  I know, I'm behind the times with that show, but my. god. it's amazing!  (Anyone else watch it?  Do you love it?  No spoilers please!)  Anyway.  All that is to say that I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on the couch recently, despite my workouts and teaching classes.  I know, I know... but we all have our lazy days right?  Now, granted Netflix doesn't have commercial breaks, but last night between the "oh my god did they really just go that far" moments, I got up off the couch and did a few exercises so I didn't feel like a total slob.  I tried to make them last about as long as a commercial break would - or until I just plain couldn't do them any longer.

So, here are some ideas for exercises you can do while the commercials air and you're waiting to pass the time.  (Hint: with football season in full swing, I bet a lot of you are parked in front of the boob tube more often!)  Fair warning: some of these are killer if you do them for the entire break!  So quit channel surfing, put down the remote, and use that couch (or chair) for more than just sitting.

5 Couch Exercises You Can Do During Commercial Breaks

5 Couch Exercises to do During a Commercial Break

Any of the following exercises can be done on their own or in combination during a commercial break of your favorite TV show.  Try to keep going for the entire commercial break!

1 | Knee to Elbow Planks - start in a plank position with your feet on the couch, hands flat on the floor, shoulders over wrists.  From here, bend one leg out to the side and try to bring your knee to meet your elbow.  Alternate sides, keeping your abs engaged and spine neutral with your gaze slightly ahead of you.

2 | Decline Push Ups - get into a push up position with your feet on the couch.  Keep your abs engaged and back/spine straight.  From here, do a push up.  For variations, you can try holding the push up halfway down or all the way down, or adjust your hand width to be closer (tricep push ups) or farther away (chest).

3 | Raised Leg Sit Ups - lie down on the floor with your heels propped up on the couch, legs straight, arms crossed over your chest.  From here, sit up and reach your hands toward your toes keeping your legs straight the entire time.  Lower yourself back down slowly, bringing your arms back to your chest (not over your head). Trainer Tip: the reason I say to cross your arms here is to avoid the added help you get when you swing your arms up with your body.  I want the sole focus to be on your abs. 

4 | Figure 4 Plank Dips - get into a plank position with your feet on the couch, hands shoulder width apart with your shoulders aligned over your wrists.  Cross your right foot in back of your left knee and elevate it, like you're forming a figure 4.  From here, slowly dip your left leg so your knee approaches the floor (note: it shouldn't touch the floor unless your couch is really low).  Raise it back up.  Do 5 dips on the left and then switch, alternating every 5 for the entire break if you can.

5 | Side Plank Leg Raises - start in a low side plank on your elbow with your top foot resting on the couch, bottom leg bent so your foot is under your hips, with that knee resting on the ground.  From here, raise that bottom leg up to meet your top leg while maintaining the side plank position.  Lower it back down.  Do 10 dips on one side, then switch to the other for 10.  Alternate for the entire commercial break, or combine with other exercises.  Trainer Tip: the only thing that should move here is that bottom leg up and down.  Your hips stay raised the entire time, and your obliques, adductors (inner thighs), and shoulder should be engaged to hold that position.

 There you have it!  Feel free to play around with these exercises and make up your own too.  There are many more exercises I did last night that aren't listed here, so I'll likely be posting another one of these soon!  You really can get in a great workout from your couch in just a few quick minutes.  And guess what - you won't be bored during the commercials! 

Readers: chat with me!  Do you watch TV often?  (Do you watch Scandal?  I'm halfway through Season 4, so no spoilers!)  Have you ever done exercises during the commercials using your couch?  What exercises would you add to this list?