that is not what working out looks like

There are photographs out there floating around the interwebs that are referred to as “fitspiration” or “fitspo”. They are pictures of fit, well toned women in athletic apparel seemingly in the throws of a hardcore workout. Their purpose is to inspire the viewer to work like the woman in the picture is “working” so that you can look like she does.

K, but here’s the thing.


It does not look like this:

or this:

or this:

(Seriously? Pushups with your hair down? Who do you think you’re fooling?)

Working out looks like a bright red splotchy face.

Working out looks like sweat circles on your armpits and yea, probably on your bra.

Working out looks like blowing snot rockets into the bushes because it’s been an hour and a half since you could blow your nose.

Working out looks like rocking unshaved legs with those running shorts because Mama don’t have time to shave AND run.

Working out looks like forgetting that you were wearing non waterproof mascara until you get home and look in the mirror.

Working out looks like taking a walking break with your arms above your head because you have a side ache.

Working out looks like having a spray trail up your back because it just rained and the path was wet.

Working out looks like this:

Sure, it’s a horrible picture of me and not worthy of tagging as “fitspiration”, but that’s ok, know why?

Because working out looks like not caring what working out looks like.

43 Responses to “that is not what working out looks like”

  1. Jessica

    You look gorgeous girl! I can’t wait to get the doc’s ok to start working out again, exercise is great for those endorphins! You look so happy :)

  2. Kim

    Uhm, I’d call that total fitsperation. All those other pics do is make me angry. You rock on. And I’ll try to get up and rock it out and start running as well!

  3. Brettan

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU…Pinterest has my mind going a million miles a minute with all those pictures that you posted above… with inspirational sayings about “just doing it” and “this is what STRONG looks like.” I say the picture I have of holding my son after an intensive no-meds, screaming my head off delivery is the picture of strength I want to strive to achieve. The running, the workouts, those things leave me looking like a HOT MESS and loving every minute of it.

    You look amazing and happy! And you are “just doing it.” Even if that means you dont have 6 pack abs while its being done!

  4. Amanda

    YOU are my fitspiration, my dear. That you make the time to exercise even with the 2 babies and everything else – that makes me believe I can do it too. I’m starting small, just trying to get my core muscles built up again… but who knows, maybe I’ll take up running again someday too. :) And yes, those other photos just make me mad. I despise all of the ridiculous “inspirational” photos of teeny tiny women (who certainly have never born children) on Pinterest.

  5. Alison

    I think your picture is far more inspirational than any of those others. To see another busy Mom with two little ones who actually takes the time to work out? THAT’S what inspires me.

  6. Andrea O

    So true. Thanks for this! I really dislike those “inspirational” pinboards on Pinterest as well. It’s not inspiration, it’s unattainable standards!

  7. Jennifer

    Thank you. I needed this. I’ve been struggling to get out and work out for myself. Having a 2 and 3 year old makes it hard, but you get that and there you are in you splotchy face glory ( right there with ya!). I’ve been using the guise of needing a double jogging stroller so I can take the boys with and not feel guilty about leaving then but I need to buck it up. Have or do you feel mommy guilt? What made you kick it?

  8. Mo

    way to tell the world! now that is inspiration!

    oh, and the “Working out looks like rocking unshaved legs with those running shorts because Mama don’t have time to shave AND run” SO TRUE!

  9. Jess

    You inspire me to go work out :) if you can do it with your boys so young, then I can do it too… those other pictures are so fake and I swear pintrest is the only website you’ll find with girls looking like that with cookies next to them haha

  10. Stephanie

    You look awesome! I’m totally impressed by the work you’ve been doing!

    Also? I HAAATE those pictures! I hate when I log into Pinterest just to see all those unrealistic pictures and it especially saddens me when the thinspiration/fitspiration is a picture of a girl who is totally unnatural due to obvious plastic surgery and/or someone who looks like they’re probably too skinny to be healthy and then it’s labelled “this is what healthy looks like” or the worst one “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” Really? Have you ever had a perfectly crisped piece of bacon? How ’bout a Chipotle burrito? Because those things taste pretty darn good! :P

    Seriously though, it makes me sad that people’s view of what’s healthy is SO distorted and then they spread that distorted view around through pictures like this! Skinny does not automatically equal healthy and we don’t need to be bombarded with more images of unattainable “beauty” like perfectly muscled women “working out” with perfect makeup, hair, and not a drop of sweat! Yeah, right!

  11. molly

    Good for you! I agree. I am a hot mess when I work out, which is never. But I’m about to change all that. I don’t have fancy work out clothes. Just some yoga pants from Target and t-shirts. But I don’t care. I am doing this.

  12. Sarah-Anne

    AMEN. you don’t wanna see me when i run…i’m pretty sure i was the inspiration behind that pin of the girl running with the ice cream cone…deer in the headlights look and everything.

  13. Tasha R.

    YOU are an inspiration! Not just with your fitness, but with so many areas of your life that you share with the interwebs. As a new-ish mama to an almost 4 month old, I’ve found so many of your posts to be encouraging and helpful. Seriously, I wish I would have had it as all together as you do at your age (I’ve got a few years on you, honey) or even have it together that much right now! Keep it up!

  14. Elaine

    Amen, SISTA!!!!

    And that last chick also looks like she’s having WAY too much fun doing push ups and they are so NOT fun.

    On a side note, all the pics I’ve seen of my while running just look like I’m about to die, nothing like that girl up there… ha ha ha!

  15. Jamie Ivey

    SO TRUE!!! I think that every single time my RUNNERS WORLD magazine comes in the mail. Same picture on the front of a super skinny girl (or totally fit guy) running and making it look very painless. that is not what running is to me!

  16. Amanda

    Thanks SO much for this post my dear! I was trying to decide whether or not to hit up the gym after a long day with my 2 year old little man…you have inspired me :)

  17. grace

    Can I get a HOLLAPRAISE?!?! Preach, woman, preach.

    I don’t even know you and I love you. That is all.

  18. Sarah

    I respectfully disagree. I’m not sure what’s “wrong” with the photos you’ve provided (although, pushups without a ponytail are a pain). The ladies in the first photo are sweaty and have messy hair – lots of women look like this after working out. And while my cheeks tend to get red when I run (because I have a fair complexion), my less-pasty friends (like the girl in the second photo) often don’t turn all splotchy when they run.

    Just because they’re skinny and pretty doesn’t mean: that they’re less athletic than you, that their bodies are unrealistic, or that they aren’t inspiring. I don’t like so-called “beautiful” women degrading others based on their appearances, but I also don’t like to hear (or read) women berating the “beautiful” women. Pettiness in either direction is far, far from attractive.

    • Stephanie

      I agree that the negative attitude can go in both directions. I disagree about the first pic though. I do see a group of gorgeous women who are obviously athletic and appear to be healthy and I think it’s a beautiful pictures. HOWEVER, it’s obvious these women haven’t just come from a workout! They’re glowing (i.e. strategic lighting), they’re posing, and flexing their muscles, and let’s not ignore the gentle breeze (fan) that’s subtly blowing their hair in a pretty way. That’s NOT what you’d see if you took a quick snapshot of Average Jane stepping off a treadmill :P

      • Sarah

        I’m not saying that the staged element of the first photo isn’t there, but I see women who do, for the most part, look like those ladies after working out – nearly every day.

  19. Emily H.

    AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! This post is glorious and should be spread everywhere!

    Good lord, those first few pictures are just laughable. I found myself nodding furiously as I was scrolling down your page.

    Preach on sister! LOL.

  20. Josie

    Oh my Gosh, I love you. You are so real it makes me cry sometimes. In a good way. Good tears. Finally, honest words from and honest life. Ahhhhhh………thank you, Mrs. Real.

  21. Kaycee

    Ha! Push ups with your hair down – RIGHT! These pictures are driving me nuts, they are so ridiculous. THANKS for actually posting a real inspirational picture! Your picture makes me want to go work out like you, the rest? Make me want to smack someone! :)

  22. Leigh

    So true!! The funny thing is, when I work out those pictures are what I *think* I look like. Then I look in a mirror, or I see a picture taken during a race, and I realize that I *actually* look like a total klutz. :) But that’s completely okay–I’ll just avoid looking in the gym mirror and keep thinking of myself as a graceful, powerful athlete.

  23. TamPlum

    Thank you! Today I snuck in a little over an hour at the gym between dropping kids off at school and picking my youngest up at pre school. I did not look like those pictures, but I felt like a million bucks when I was done.

  24. Mandy

    Maybe if the women in the first picture could smile. Because if working out makes me as miserable as they look, count me out!


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