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Daniel Bartlett​ On Why Fitspo Can Be Bad for Mental Health

Daniel Bartlett​ on Why 'Self-Inspo' Is More Important Than Fitspo For Your Fitness Journey

Mental health and wellbeing is very close to our hearts, and while we aim to have an always-on approach to covering all aspects of mental health, we have chosen to shine an extra bright light on #WorldMentalHealth today, and for the rest of October.

We bring you The Big Burn Out — a content series made up of honest personal essays, expert advice and practical recommendations.

In a world where 'beautiful people', as Ed Sheeran would call them, are put on a pedestal, it can be hard not to admire them from afar. No doubt your morning routine sees you frequently perusing the activities of well-known fitness and lifestyle influencers, scrolling through Instagram to absorb inspo and get motivated for the day ahead. Amongst the sleuth of posts are body positive quotes intended to encourage greater balance and challenge the status quo.

All of this is fine. But bearing in mind this subliminal tug-of-war between a whirlwind of 'perfection' and our reality, there's an added mental load when it comes to the relationship you have with your own body. Finding your own way to exercise 'self-inspo' can actually have more benefit in your health journey. Here's how:

Try to Limit #Fitspo and Focus on #Selfspo

Finding motivation in another, when they are at their peak fitness, can do more damage to both mental and physical health than it does good. We need to change the voice inside our head from saying, "I want to look like that," or "I wish I could change this part of me" to "I love me, now" and grow from there. Social media can be a positive tool for sharing ideas, support and learning, but try trading off the image-focused culture and comparisons, to instead, join groups that have a more holistic approach to health and encourage you to do the best you can. Embracing who you are — no matter what stage of your journey — will set you up to be the very best version of yourself mentally and physically.

It's Progress, Not Perfection

The majority of us, when starting our fitness journies, quickly set so many expectations, which creates an incredible amount of pressure. When goals are too high there is more of a chance of relapse. This strain is not a healthy or positive way to kick-off. Living up to progress, not perfection, takes the edge off. Instead, take it one moment and one movement at a time. Every second of exercise that you complete is a win, you don't need to 'finish' a workout to be a success. You can pause, you can slow down, you can stop and come back tomorrow. There is no need to push it to the limit. You are far more likely to succeed in the long term and enjoy the journey if you meet exercise where you are now.

Incorporate Five Actions to Get You on Track

When it comes to mental health, exercise is something simple that can bring an important sense of accomplishment. Many people see this as their anchor and a consistent positive element in their lives, regardless of circumstances or mental health. This alone is an incredibly persuasive reason to develop an exercise routine that works for you. Try incorporating these top five tips to set you up along your journey:

  • Don't get overwhelmed with the longer-term goals, or future barriers. Just focus on one day at a time.
  • Start at the level you are now, now where you think you should be. You'll enjoy it more that way.
  • Start with the knowledge that you won't always feel motivated and that's OK. To be consistent, you've got to commit, regardless of how you might feel.
  • You'll probably miss days, stop workouts before they've ended or have a less productive session when life gets in the way. None of these things is a disaster. As long as you come back the next day, you've won!
  • Take the time to reflect on your achievements as you go. Woke up 30 minutes earlier to work out? That's something to celebrate. Started your first work out and felt challenged? Congratulations! Every step is a step in the right direction.

Daniel Bartlett is a passionate health activist who believes many of us are sleeping giants with a potential for greatness that can be unlocked through the attainment of excellent health and the energy and vitality it brings. Learn more about David and Team Body Project here.

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