Food/fitness blogs: Pressure or Motivation??

Hey everyone! Hope you’re having a great day 😀

I wanted to take a second and discuss something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and something I’ve been pondering even more since I read Jenna’s amazing post on one comparing themselves to food/fitness blogs.

If I rewound back a handful of years, I could see myself feeling so pressured and inadequate from reading food/fitness blogs. I would feel like I didn’t eat healthy enough, work out enough, run fast enough, and would probably get myself down. Before my weight loss success, I didn’t know what a flax seed was, how far a 10k was, or about the glory of almond butter. I could also see myself diving headfirst to replicate everything I saw in the blog world, and being horribly disappointed when I didn’t succeed.

Everything I know now is a huge work in process and even though I’ve become much more educated about fitness and nutrition, I still have eons more to learn. Now, I’m able to look at food/fitness blogs for motivation, ideas, and ways to improve my fitness and quality of life. When I get to the gym, sometimes just thinking about how a certain blogger might tackle their workout is enough for me to pick up the weights or press start on the treadmill, or thinking about grabbing something quick to eat may be squandered by the thought that a healthy food blogger is out there making a scrumptious homemade dinner. A big blog motivation for me was running my first half marathon (and blowing my goal time into the dust)- a feat that I’m pretty sure wouldn’t be possible if I didn’t read food blogs and know that there are girls out there, my same age and fitness level, beating goals like that all the time.

I think the most important thing to remember if you’re just getting into changing up your eating habits or starting a fitness regimen is that you need to take baby steps. Diving into anything headfirst is a surefire way to get burned out. There’s no reason to start running 20+ miles a week if you haven’t done that before, eat mostly raw if you’re body isn’t used to it, or make any drastic change without easing into the process. When I first meet with new clients, we have a plan on changes they can make each week to become healthier. For example, one client’s goal might be to not eat fried food or drink soda for one week, add in fruits and veggies one week, walk 2 miles every day the next week, change white bread to wheat, etc.

So my question is, what do you think? Do you feel food/fitness blogs cause pressure, or spark motivation? Or a mix of the two?? I can definitely see how it could be both.

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92 Comments

  1. RunningBetty on September 22, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I think blogs only cause pressure in people with low self esteem or high self doubt.
    I am confident that I am doing what I can in a way that fits into my life right now, so the blogs spark motivation.
    You get more workout hours than I do, but that’s part of your job. I make more websites than you do, because that is my job. But you still maintain your web site (almost) daily, and I still work out (almost) every day – because we’ve made it a priority in our lives.

  2. Paige @ Running Around Normal on September 22, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    What an awesome post, Gina. Short, sweet, and to the point. I think you point out a valid factor that jumping into anything head first can lead to burn out. I think there is a pressure to live up to the ways of some food bloggers, and we all need to remember where we are in our path along the healthy lifestyle road and know what works for us. Great post 🙂

  3. Paige @ Running Around Normal on September 22, 2009 at 9:29 pm

    Oh, and also – your strength training workouts totally motivate me when I’m at the gym!

  4. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) on September 22, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Great post, girl. I’ve seen a few other people asking this question recently about food blogs and comparing and I think that if you go into the food blog world with your head screwed on straight and look to it for inspiration and some ideas, it’s a fabulous tool. If you’re sort of bumbling along and not extremely sure of where you’re going or where you should/need to be going, then this world is a bit much. There is always gonna be someone who eats healthier (whatever that means b/c it’s diff for all of us), someone who works out more/better/faster, cooks more vegan/more raw/more organic, is skinnier/more toned/more bulked up/etc. Pick an area, there will always be someone who is “better” and if you can realize that going in and not feel the need to bring yourself to that level, if that’s an unhealthy place, then food blogs are fun. But if you’re getting sucked into unhealthy comparisons, then back off…for sure!

    I have not looked at all the commments but I’m sure I’m not saying anything new here. It’s just you gotta be grounded, quit comparing, it’s just like yoga. When I have new yoga students who are lookin around the room, wondering why so and so can do this or that…well, so and so has had a daily 2 hr practice for years and is also naturally inclined to certain things. And then it’s, quit comparing, focus on you, look inward, the path will be revealed in time. Be gentle to yourself, love yourself, and try not to worry about what all the other cool kids are doing in school 🙂

    Love you girl, you’re awesome. Thanks for this post. It’s important that you brought some attention to this. I also get private mails from people regarding the high raw/vegan lifestyle and it’s sad they are so unsure of themselves they just dont know where to turn and all I try to do is set them straight on their path. As you do with all your readers and clients 🙂

    xoxox
    averie

  5. Molly on September 22, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Honestly, as a recover-ee from anorexia, it’s sometimes tempting to let other people’s eats and exercise habits have too much credit. I’m really learning to listen to my body a lot more. As a college cross country and distance track runner, I’m obviously getting a lot of exercise. and everyone has varying caloric needs, and sometimes that just comes down to genetics. i’ve learned a lot from blogs about other people’s journeys, and one thing i’ve learned is that each one is unique. overall, i think they definitely help more than hurt, but i can see how someone still in the bouts of an eating disorder could mis-use them.

    • Fitnessista on September 22, 2009 at 10:49 pm

      i totally agree

  6. Wendy on September 22, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    Motivation for sure! I have been making slow changes since January. I can’t believe how far I have come. I have made lifestyle changes and feel great! Love looking at blogs for motivation!

  7. Lisa on September 22, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    These blogs have motivated me to do stuff I love – eat healthy, cook, bake, exercise, read, go out with friends, and write about it all. I’m lucky that I’m at a point in my life where I am completely comfortable with myself and my body and know how to be healthy. I think it’s important that people realize that what girls write down about the foods that they eat might not be exactly/only what they are eating (aka, the blogger might eat more than she writes about, so another girl shouldn’t starve herself b/c she thinks that the blogger only eats raw veggies all day every day). And, I think it is also important to promote eating healthy food in the amounts that your body requires and based on how much physical activity you get – not everyone is going to need the same about of food. As long as people use the blogs for promotion of health and not as ways to overly obsess about weight, food, calories, and excessive exercise, then I think they are a great tool to share ideas and support each other in a quest to stay healthy.

  8. WholeBodyLove on September 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    I think it all depends on the reader. As you reference your former self and the person you are today, you speak of two types of potential readers. Those who believe in themselves can use the spark of confidence within them to digest the words on the screen and use them in a positive way. Those with self doubt may be motivated by the strong, healthy happy women of the blog world as well. But, there are some who may internalize the day to day words of health bloggers as a reminder that they are not “healthy enough”. We all know that’s not true. But, the reaction of the reader is not something we can control.

  9. Tay on September 22, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I get lots of motivation to try out new recipes and got lots of great new ideas. However I also feel lots of pressure to keep my meals “new” have an actual recipe for dinner rather than something easy (like cereal occasionally).

  10. debby on September 23, 2009 at 12:13 am

    Gina, first, I love your blog, and I’ve gotten so many new food ideas from you and have tried new foods that I might not have tried before (and liked them!) In fact, my personal trainer gave me some kelp noodles to try, but I wouldn’t try them until you said a couple of times that you loved them!!

    I get tons of new food ideas and recipes to try from different bloggers. You start to know which bloggers have the same tastes as you, and you’re more likely to enjoy a recipe from them.

    The part about food bloggers that sometimes backfires on me is when they post pictures of foods that might be okay for them but are not so good for me. And seeing the pictures just makes me want to eat that thing that might be a problem food for me. Sometimes I just have to stop visiting certain blogs for a little while.

  11. GirlonRaw on September 23, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I would love to read all the comments here, but just so many, so I will probably be repeating what alot of other people have already said, but I too agree that they will only cause pressure on people who were going to feel pressure anyway. If you are comfortable in your own skin, and kind to yourself enough to realise that we are all doing the best we can given our individual circumstances then that pressure blame could only be put on yourself (the reader) if they feel it. I actually adore reading all these blogs (of course yours is at the top of the list) and credit them with getting them back off my butt and getting me more motivated to get more active again. Coming from a girl that was always extremely active anyway in the past, I just needed that little push that comes from reading (and writing) inspiring blogs like yours. Reading blogs is a choice and if anyone feels pressure then they have the choice not to click on. Please keep up all the good you are doing…the volume of these comments is more than enough to let you know you are doing a great thing. Kudos to you fitnessista and all the other food/fitness bloggys out there:)

  12. Shelby on September 23, 2009 at 5:46 am

    It’s a mix of the two for sure! Sometimes I feel so much pressure to post what the readers want to see, that I forget to enjoy my food and eat what I want to eat. Most of the time though, it’s motivation and inspiration. I get so many ideas for cooking/baking that I find myself trying so many new things I’ve never tried before. Same thing with working out. If I get bored with what I am doing at home, I can look at what other bloggers are doing and get some ideas to switch it up.

    I think it depends on the individual person and how he/she takes the advice or ideas.

  13. VeggieGirl on September 23, 2009 at 7:26 am

    You already know my thoughts on this, my dear 😉

  14. Jessica @ How Sweet It Is on September 23, 2009 at 7:58 am

    Gina, I had to come back and comment again after reading your ‘how I feast’ page. I think one of the MOST inspirational tips I have ever heard is one you state on the page – that you focus on foods you love instead of foods you CHOOSE to avoid. Great advice. I think you are very motivating for everyone. 🙂

  15. Megan on September 23, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Spark motivation! I would have never stood a chance without other women bloggers and reading about their journey. It gave me the strength and courage to start my own. It does take mental strength to realize that only jogging two miles in my first two weeks is actually good, and that I won’t see big changes over night… but I think if you can do that (mental check) then these blogs are a huge motivator!

  16. Kimberly@Living Free on September 23, 2009 at 8:23 am

    I have had both experiences with blog reading. It really depends on what kind of state I’m in with my health. If I’m struggling with my health and trying to figure out what I can and can’t eat–reading a lot of blogs can be frustrating because even healthy foods can be a no-no for me. So, I see all these yummy foods and want to try them but can’t.

    On the other hand, if it weren’t for blogs, I don’t know where I would be! I have found SO much inspiration from other bloggers. I have found some recipes that DO work for me and some that don’t. It has helped me to see how others view food in a healthy way. I enjoy my food more now than I ever have before. As someone who has had a history of an eating disorder, reading blogs has helped me learn what ‘normal’ eating looks like:)

    I just recently started reading your blog and LOVE it! Can’t wait to try some of your recipes:)

  17. Emily (Healthy Fit Mama) on September 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

    I think for the most part food & fitness blogs are motivating, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I feel a little inadequate because I’m not a runner. It seems like so many bloggers out there run marathons and, although I’m very fit, running just isn’t my thing. I just have to keep reminding myself that everyone has something that they’re good at, and other things they’re not so good at. For me, it’s Spinning rather than running.

    • Fitnessista on September 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

      spinning is excellent exercise and doesn’t impact the joints.. nothing wrong with choosing that over running!

  18. ashley on September 23, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I am just starting on this new healthy life journey. I love the food/fitness blogs (esp. yours!). I find them to be very motivating and I’ve learned so much.

    My only problem- or thought- is that most people who have these blogs have already reached a “high level” of healthy living and eating. I would have loved for instance, to have read your thoughts when you first started your journey (when you started the South Beach diet) to track how you got to where you are today. Sometimes its nice to know that others experienced the pit falls and set backs that I continuously have now. I feel like the blogs I read make it looks so easy.

    With that being said- I’ve started my own blog in the hopes that I too will one day make it look easy- but also show readers that it wasn’t always that way. Bottom line- I love the blogs- and I do think to myself WWFD? (what would the Fitnessista do?) ha. and it helps! Keep up the great work!

    • Fitnessista on September 23, 2009 at 4:00 pm

      haha wwfd. i love it 😀
      i wish i would have kept a blog or record of my weight loss journey too.. you’re right in saying a lot of bloggers are already to a point where we have it figured out, but it took a lot of pitalls and setbacks to get to fitness and nutrition satisfaction

  19. Gena on September 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

    Great discussion, gorgeous girl!

    I think that, first of all, people need to be held accountable for what they do and don’t choose to read and fixate on. I realize that many blog readers are very young, but the simple fact is that blogs are public resources; how a person chooses to approach them is a personal matter, not the fault of the material.

    I do think that blogs stoke and provoke a lot of comparison and competition, not to mention disordered habits. That’s too bad. I also don’t think it’s going to change, because it isn’t really the blogs, per se, that do this; it’s the psychological underpinnings of those who read them.

    For every person that a blog triggers, though, there will be many others whom it can inspire, support, comfort, or motivate to better health. And in this regard, food and fitness blogs are great.

    It would be nice to toss the negatives aside and focus on the positives, of course, but it’s impossible to instill in people (especially people in the throes of an eating disorder) a sense of comfort about what they do vs. what others do, or to quiet the need to compete. On time, treatment, and self care will do that. In the meantime, blogs will either be triggering or comforting, and which they’ll be will depend on the person reading.

    Gena xoxo

  20. Sheri on September 23, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    I always get lots of motivation from reading the food/fitnees blogs. It gives me new ideas for recipes and for exercise. I could see depending on the person reading how it could effect them and their self esteem. Everyone is different and it could place pressure on some people to “match” what other people are doing. Sometimes I admit that I may feel a little inadequite to some of the other bloggers out there but then I think about what is right for me and how I am feeling and snap out of it.

    When I blog I like to give a true picture of what I eat and how I exercise. I do not want to give a false picture of myself! I eat what I LOVE and exercise because it feels great!

  21. LCD Protector on January 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    .’* I am very thankful to this topic because it really gives useful information “;”

  22. KokesW on August 19, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    I found your blog a month ago (I was looking for an Indian aubergine recipe and you popped up Lol) and I have been slowly reading my way through your posts. I have been tempted to comment so many times, but figured there was no point as the posts were years old – but I just had to comment on this post. You have been such an inspiration to me and I can frankly say that in the past month, I have finally come to recognise the damage I have been doing to my body over the past 15 years with my crazy dieting. I used to be pretty skinny but after my first child was born (I have 4!) I got on a treadmill of dieting (I have done Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Blood Type, Clean Program etc) and have lost and gained the same 20 pounds over and over again, damaged my metabolism and just made myself completely miserable. In the past month, I have started to allow myself to eat normally”

  23. KokesW on August 19, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Sorry, that post was incomplete! I am now eating normally, allowing myself healthy grains, all fruit ( for some reason I was scared of the sugar in fruit) and lean proteins. I have told myself that nothing is off limits so I do have my treat days and eat something if I am craving it but for the most part, I have focused on eating good healthy food that I enjoy and which benefits my body. I recently had surgery so have to wait another month or so before I can work out it I am looking forward to resuming my workouts and taking a few Zumba classes. I am terrified of spinning but have resolved to give it a shot and see how I do. I have in no way felt pressured or intimidated by you, just inspired. Reading your blog, I have regained my love of food and I have lost all my excess weight to boot. I can’t wait to read the rest of your inspirational posts. Thank you, thank you!

    • Fitnessista on August 19, 2012 at 11:01 pm

      hey, thank you so much for such a sweet and wonderful comment. i’m so happy to hear that you are taking care of yourself (and 4 kids! amazing) and finding workouts you enjoy. i appreciate you reading more than you know <3
      xoxo

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