Body Image Fitness


Since when did “fitspiration” become synonymous with photos of photoshopped, tan, single digit body fat women in a posed photoshoot in skimpy lingerie/workout clothes with maybe a dumbbell or two for emphasis?

When I think of the term, “fitspiration” (a mash-up of the words “fitness” and “inspiration,”) it brings images to mind of people doing. 

And while posed photoshoots are awesome in their own right, honestly they aren’t as inspiring to me. Maybe my bit of modeling experience has jaded me on it, too- but honestly I’ll see images of MYSELF from past photoshoots and think, “that’s not even me. That’s not real. It’s an idealized version of myself.” While I can appreciate the photo for what it is, it’s not who I am.

DSC_0122             2014-01-08 16.43.24

See my point?

So I thought- instead of completely banning “fitspiration,” why not re-invent it? Why not make it real, relatable, and actually inspiring and representative of the term “fitness inspiration?”

According to Wikipedia: “Physical fitness is a general state of health and well-being or specifically the ability to perform aspects of sports or occupations. “

Odd then- seeing as most fitspo doesn’t actually show people “performing aspects of sports” or a “general state of health and well-being”  at all, just an idealized version of what a fit body should look like. The real irony here is that some models and competitors aren’t even in a state of health or well-being at the time the photo may have been taken! Some fitness competitors have coaches putting them on plans eating 600-800 calories and doing 2 hours of cardio on a daily basis to get “shredded.”  That’s not healthy. And it doesn’t promote a healthy state of well-being, I assure you.

I will say there are many more fitness competitors doing things the right way these days, though which is awesome! Thanks to people like Layne Norton and others who are revolutionizing the fitness competition coaching industry, it is possible to do competitions and be a fitness model the healthy way, and if that is something that is a goal of yours, please make sure your coach has your well-being in mind. Many don’t. I’m also not a competitor so I don’t have much information in that area, but looking up Layne Norton’s video blogs are a great place to start if that is something that interests you!

FYI I am not against fitness competitors in any way, just making a point that
just because you see a photo of someone who is at an extremely low body fat, doesn’t mean they did it in a healthy way or are happy, necessarily.

But I digress.

I know personally, I’m always so inspired seeing people perform amazing feats of strength and fitness and I know others are, as well! I’m also inspired by people who have made positive mental transformations when it comes to health, fitness, and body image.

The #REALFITSPO Project:

Through my Twitter account, I asked my followers to send me some photos of them doing something awesome and inspiring whatever it means to them! (Health/fitness related, of course.) Some were photos of lifts, doing a crazy awesome physical feat, and some were just a simple progress photo.

I didn’t want to set too many limitations, because we all are inspired by different things! The key here is that they are all real people undergoing a fitness journey and living a day-to-day life.

(Not that models aren’t real, duh. But you know what I mean. 😉 )

So here is the first batch! SHARE them with your friends, Pin them, do what you want. The goal is to get these OUT THERE and overshadow the masses of photoshopped idealism masquerading as fitness inspiration.

Some of the below participants added their own quotes/edits, and some were completely edited by me. I added the #REALFITSPO stamp to them all.


photo 5



one handed handstand

overhead lunge






These were so inspiring to me and I hope to you, too! Make sure to follow these lovely ladies on Twitter and congratulate them if you so wish, I highly encourage that 🙂 

The #REALFITSPO project is ongoing, and I’m ALWAYS looking for more submissions! To participate, here is what you need to do:

1.) E-mail me ( a photo of you similar to the ones above. It can be anything that inspires you and that you think would inspire others!

FYI:  I encourage you to submit even if you don’t feel like you’re at an “After” photo state if that makes sense. One of my most-liked photos of me ever was the one where I’m literally pinching my lower bellyfat and saying “DEAL WITH IT” and just embracing it. Nobody is perfect- we are all on the journey together! And this is what this project is all about. Embrace YOU! 

2.) Include a quote that motivates you, or just a simple statement of how fitness changed your life/mentality.  I’d rather it not be similar to some of the “fitspo” images you may have already seen. (AKA nothing like “Suck it up now and you won’t have to suck it in later.)

If you can’t think of anything, I will find something and add it myself, so no worries!

3.) Include your twitter handle, blog name, any way of identifying you on the web. Or if you just want your name, that’s fine too!

Don’t worry about doing any fancy editing, that’s what I will do afterward! All you have to do is send me a picture.

And that’s it! Again, my e-mail is

I’m so excited to open this up to my blogosphere and see what you inspiring ladies come up with. I feel really strongly about this project and many have expressed interest in seeing it evolve.

Check out #REALFITSPO Issue 2!


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  • Reply Megan @ Meg Go Run February 9, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Girl I loooooove this project! I will be sending you a photo. To me, fitspo is images that motivate me, and like you, I am motivated by the doing! I wrote about it here: Anyway this new movement is so cool!

    • Reply janinecdemichele February 10, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks for the link! I’ll have to check it out. I’m so glad others agree with me! 🙂

  • Reply sdorsay (itrainthereforeieat) February 9, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I Looooove this idea and all of these photos! What an awesome project 🙂 I agree with you 100% that “fitspo” needs to change, and this is a great step in the right direction. Huge high five to all of the ass kicking ladies pictured here!

    • Reply janinecdemichele February 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Thank you so much! I’m really excited about the project and am happy others are too 🙂

  • Reply lozette February 10, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Take a look at the “reclaiming fitspo” tag on Tumblr, too, it has loads of great pics & stories:

    • Reply janinecdemichele February 10, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Thank you so much! I am not huge into Tumblr, so I’m not keen on all the trends going on but I’ll definitely have to check that out.

  • Reply Lately in my life.. - Wine to Weightlifting February 19, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    […] all that other good stuff that I am a firm believer in. She is SO positive and even has created a #REALFITSPO project which I encourage you to check […]

  • Reply #REALFITSPO Issue 2 | LIFTmeupFitness March 6, 2014 at 12:02 am

    […] of all, I am blown away at all the positive encouragement I have received regarding my initial #REALFITSPO post, and I am so excited to show you the second installment of fearless, fit, strong women doing what […]

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