Marie Claire Controversy: Fitness Bloggers and Body Image

Belly Love: Is this obsessive or healthy?

Wow, this is a big one for me.  An article called “The Hunger Diaries” in this month’s Marie Claire discusses “six popular bloggers [who] advocate healthier living” but asks if what they write and how they come across could have a negative, even dangerous, impact on their readers.

I see what Marie Claire and the author are trying to say in the article.  I also regularly read almost all the bloggers mentioned in the piece so I am familiar with their content.  Overall, this article brings up a lot of issues for me.

Here’s the thing: I had an eating disorder; started out anorexic, switched over to bulimia, and wound up hospitalized for it when I was 22.  It was a six week in-treatment program and they saved my life; this I know.  That was a long time ago for me. I’ve completely recovered and moved on with my life, but I had to go through it.  I’m sensitive to it, and I think about it when I write, a lot.

I’m also a fitness professional; I have a bachelor’s of science with a lot of biology related classes.  I have a 500-hour certification through an incredibly reputable organization for Pilates and I have been working with clients in gyms and studios since 1997.  I know what I’m doing, I keep people safe, dole out reasonable advice, and err on the side of caution.

I am very aware that I am working with a person’s most precious and delicate possession: their body.  I treat it with the respect and reverence that it deserves.  These people trust me, they listen to me, they take my advice.  I keep this at the front of my mind when I blog too.  I look at my readers as I do my clients.  I am respectfully trying to keep your bodies happy and healthy.

So I talk about all things in moderation, and I talk about balance.  I write posts on training for a 5K by alternating walking and running, gradually building over time to a full run.  In some ways the advice is boring; it’s not sexy to walk for two minutes and then run for 90 seconds, but that’s what I say.   I try to make it fun and upbeat and “atta girl,” but it’s really just boring, safe advice.  I know it’ll get you there, though, and I know that you’ll be happy when you do.

Then I see the extremes in the fitness industry.  The TV fitness personalities with online certifications, never even having to step foot in a gym to become “certified.”  The celebrities pushing some fitness contraption or other, usually a B-lister trying to add a few more dollars to their retirement fund.  Or the marketing companies pushing useless or dangerous supplements and cashing in on the desperate hope that there really is a magic bullet that exists and this “thing” might actually be the one.

The six fitness bloggers discussed in the article for the most part do their own thing.  They are fitness bloggers, not fitness experts, and that’s a big distinction for me.  They are quirky, funny, dedicated, and I’m a little envious of their ability to keep their figures.  Most of them don’t have kids; I wonder how they’ll do if and when that happens.   I’m generally happy with where I am, but I feel pressure being in the fitness industry to look a certain way.  I have seen the glances of judgement, good or bad, when I meet people face to face.  But that’s okay; I know this is part of what I signed up for.

Marie Claire‘s point is that people who are prone to eating disorders can become hooked on these blogs.  The bloggers are beautiful, young, vivacious, and thin.  I can see where a reader could get caught up in the cyber-documented lives of the bloggers and try to emulate them to negative effect.  I’m not saying these bloggers have eating disorders, but they do provide a framework that someone with an eating disorder could take too far, and that makes me uncomfortable.

Personally, I have an obligation to convey healthy information to my readers because I consider myself a fitness “expert.”  I feel like the bar is higher for me than it is for these women.  But I feel all fitness bloggers should keep in mind what is best for their readers, at least some of the time.  (A big exception from the article is the nutritionist who is a registered dietician; I would put her level of responsibility as high as mine.)

How do you feel about this?  Is it the responsibility of a blogger with no real training in fitness to censor herself just in case someone with an eating disorder is reading?  What does it say about the blogger if she is attracting an audience of people with eating disorders?

Me? I still don’t know; I really have to think about this some more.  One of my main reasons for becoming a fitness blogger was to dispel the misinformation that is out there.  I am ridiculously passionate about it.  I just want everyone to be happy and healthy.

BTW, I’ve talked about this before.  Here’s 5 goals for Fitness Bloggers.

What do you think?

Lisa

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About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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40 Responses to Marie Claire Controversy: Fitness Bloggers and Body Image

  1. Sarah October 4, 2010 at 8:14 pm #

    I think this is a question about blogging in general, not just food blogging. Bloggers choose to put what they put on their blogs. Not all pictures taken make it to being uploaded, not all stories get told, not all secrets divulged. I think often times bloggers (myself included) put the good side of them on their blogs, simply because they are trying to focus on the positive and not necessarily air their dirty laundry on the internet (let’s face it – we all have it).

    I don’t think the MC article touched at all on reader responsibility. Yes, you can be inspired by the women you read, but you should still be you own person, own who you are.

    Unless these six bloggers are downright doling out advice and claiming that people need to follow it – I see what they are doing as completely innocent.

  2. Lisa Johnson October 4, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Sarah, I agree with you that the intent of the six bloggers is innocent. They are merely recording their lives and sharing with others. I also agree that the reader has responsibility for their behavior. I guess my question (and it’s truly a question) if you start to see comments on certain posts that raise a flag, that make you wonder about the health of the reader, do you have an obligation at that point to try to set the record straight? I honestly don’t know what the answer is. If someone has an eating disorder and wants more information on about it there are WAY worse places to get it from. Do a google search some day, you’ll be aghast …

    Thanks for your thoughts, I appreciate them.

    Lisa

  3. Ross Carey October 4, 2010 at 8:23 pm #

    Very honest piece. Not all readers are reading with the same goal or purpose. It’s tough to say that someone in your position should cater your posts to people with eating disorders but it’s certainly something to keep in my mind when writing.

  4. Lisa Johnson October 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    Thanks Ross, the funny thing is I don’t write about eating disorders, at all. I just don’t go there. I focus on health, fitness, feeling better about yourself, the positive stuff. I’m wondering if I should now … lots of pondering to do. You’re quite right, not all readers have the same goal or purpose and how responsible is the blogger for that? L–

  5. Gini October 4, 2010 at 8:35 pm #

    My best friend was bulimic, has had gastro-bypass surgery and still deals with food issues (though I doubt she’d actually admit that out loud). I remember the first time she purged in my presence when I was 17 & then instructed me to not saying anything. I had no idea what to say or do. I had no idea what she was going through.

    After reading the Marie Claire article, seems it would be impossible to expect someone suffering from an eating disorder to censor themselves or even recognize the effects their blog postings are having on others suffering as well. If they had reasonable perspective on things, they probably wouldn’t be suffering from a distorted body image.

    The blog environment is one in which the reader needs to do their research & vet their favorite authors if they are relying on them for “expert” advice. We all need to remember that unless the author is a well known celebrity *seen* on national television, there is always the chance the twenty-something super fit nutrition expert is actually a fifty-something overweight couch potato grandfather.

    We must also keep in mind that what is shared in a blog is only a glimpse into someone’s life. A blogger may seem to have the perfect body, eating habits, exercise discipline…life, but we ALL have an achilles heel. We all struggle day-to-day with whatever life serves up. It’s dangerous to emulate someone else’s life. Better to live your life and incorporate little bits of positivity garnered from positive blogs.

    Thanks for sharing your struggle, Lisa, and thank you for shining a light on the potential danger lurking inside those blogs. I think that is a positive step.
    Warm regards,
    Gini

  6. KCLAnderson (Karen) October 4, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    The ironic (for me) part of all of this is that I’m not really familiar with the blogs in question. I’ve read the Marie Claire article and I’ve read lots of the responses and rebuttals.

    I’ve also been thinking about what happens when a blogger goes from someone who is writing about their own experiences and journey to someone who is teaching others or setting an example. And where exactly is that line? And when does it get crossed?

    I tend to write about the emotional aspect of the weight loss journey and have come to my own comfortable and confident place…but I also know what it’s like to be in the place where you’re looking everywhere but inside yourself for the answer… we tend to want someone to tell us what to do but if we don’t even know what it is we really want, it’s easy to latch on to what we consider “successful.”

    The larger issue, in my humble opinion, is the whole “reality” celebrity culture and creating controversy to get attention, which is instigated by big media, all in the name of more money and more power. I mean, yes, these girls are making a living doing what they’re doing, but big media is “using” them. It’s like the whole diet company thing…”before and after” has become such big business, not just for the diet companies, but also for big media. The regular person who happened to lose XX pounds and who has this new-found-but-still-shaky self confidence and wants the limelight…wants to share their story…to be an inspiration!! I know because I was that person. But that’s not to say that some other person might have a fabulous empowering experience…it’s to say that I didn’t…and I had to regroup and figure stuff out.

    Okay, enough rambling…

  7. Fitarella October 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm #

    Really well said Lisa. Thank you for being so open & honest.

    For me, I do feel like I have a responsibility to my readers because I chose to get my fitness & nutrition education to help others as much as I can. And like you, I too had an ED for many years and that hell that I lived inspires me to be of service every day.

    Whether the 6 have eating issues is not for me to say, but I do think that if you are attracting thousands of readers a day, speaking at summits, getting paid/sponsored by brands, and getting book deals – then YES, you do have a responsibility to your readers and should be aware of the messages you may or may not be sending. I think just saying “i’m just blogging what I do” and then taking a hands off stance when it comes to reader responsibility is careless. Yes, of course readers have a responsibility as well, but c’mon, how many people with disordered eating issues look for a PhD source to get tips & tricks for maintaining/losing weight? They go to the blog that gets 300 comments/post. And although you & I may know the distinction between a fitness expert and a fitness blogger, I have come across MANY, and I mean MANY that didn’t and have no idea what the difference is between and online cert and the MS in Nutrition i’m finishing right now.

  8. Lisa Johnson October 4, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    Gini, thanks so much for your thoughts, it must have been a struggle to watch your friend go through that. I’m sure you see it in an occasional client and you go right back to how on earth can I help this person? Thanks for sharing.

    Karen, I love how you say shaky self-confidence and wanting to share in the limelight. You can be so grateful to finally grab that brass ring that you want to know that anyone else can do it to with the right attitude and fortitude. I really appreciate your thoughts.

    Fitarella, I hadn’t thought about the impact of a blogger with a book deal and a wide national audience versus the obscure blogger who only gets read by friends and family. I think you’re right that should be part of the “bar” that I mentioned. The larger your audience the more responsibility you do have. But, as you said you’re almost at your MS in Nutrition and these girls have gotten their information from where? Maybe a college course, maybe from reading magazines and online food sites? I don’t know. Is it fair for them to say I’m just me, not an example for you? At the higher levels of blogdom perhaps not. Good point and thanks for bringing it up.

    L–

  9. marzipan October 4, 2010 at 9:30 pm #

    I agree with fitarella – there is a certain amount of responsibility and accountability that comes along with making money, getting book deals, and having thousands of readers. You have got to know that there are many, many girls out there looking up to you – and act accordingly. I’m not saying that it is their fault that others find their work triggering, but I do think that they are in the dangerzone for this type of accusation and I don’t find this article all together surprising.

    That said, I believe that everyone who blogs, whether big or small, has the responsibility write with integrity and authenticity. I think that it is good practice for your life in general, to only say what you mean, and to be careful and exact with your word.

    thank you for your lovely and honest post.

  10. Sarah October 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm #

    Hmm … You raise a really good point. Do you think it makes a difference in responsibility if bloggers are getting paid or not?

  11. Lisa Johnson October 4, 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    Thanks Mara, I just commented on your post! Very similar to what you say here. I have always felt personally responsible to convey information but I honestly hadn’t thought of it in the general sense of all fitness bloggers having an obligation as well. Silly I know, but I’m a live and let live kind of person and the idea of applying my values to someone else’s blog doesn’t feel right. I rolled my eyes at the spammers with unhealthy products and just glossed over the people who were naive about what they were dispensing. I’m still pondering …

    Sarah, as for getting paid or not, I suppose yes. They are now considered “professionals” and I think that does bump them up a level. When I started writing for AOL’s That’s Fit I was one of the few fitness professionals regularly contributing, it was mostly what I called in this post fitness bloggers, people who like to work out and talk about it. The last time I talked to my editors about it they said they are now only hiring people with some sort of professional fitness background. I thought that was awesome. :-)

    L–

  12. Kris O'Connor October 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing yourself with us, Lisa. That’s all I wanted to say ;-)

  13. Sheri Gurock October 4, 2010 at 9:56 pm #

    Lisa, this was a very brave and honest post. I’m honored to be the recipient of so much of your solid advice. I love that I can always count on you to keep me safe and help my body be the best it can be, without dwelling on conventional standards. You are a beautiful person, in and out.

  14. Lisa Johnson October 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm #

    Sheri & Kris, thank you so much I appreciate you both stopping by and being supportive. :-) L–

  15. Steve F October 5, 2010 at 1:08 am #

    Lisa,

    I have family members with eating disorders, so I am all too familiar with the destruction they can wreak upon one’s body and the emotions of their loved ones. I much appreciate your balanced, err on the side of caution approach to fitness, and agree that your body is to be cherished. Sadly, some people abuse their bodies in the name of trying to save them.

    I, too try to give my readers sound advice concerning their health and fitness. It is unfortunate that some bloggers may be somewhat extreme. However, that both the beauty and the curse of the Internet in general, and the blogosphere in particular. There is a wealth of information and a plethora of viewpoints, many of which have at least some validity, while others are untrue, mistaken, or just way out there.

    It is a shame that with all the information at people’s fingertips, there is still so much ignorance regarding what to put into one’s body and how to maintain a healthy level of weight, body fat, and fitness.

    The sad fact is that a simple trip downtown in virtually any city in this country will demonstrate the almost sickening disregard too many people seem to have for their bodies. There is almost no way to achieve the level of obesity that many people demonstrate, without a borderline willful ignorance.

    Yes, many people do not know what comprises a truly healthy diet, and many have been mislead by corporate marketing as to the health attributes of many food products (should the words food and products ever be combined?). That is not a complete excuse in the information age however, when basic nutrition information is at almost anyone’s fingertips who has the desire to discover it.

    In any case, common sense would dictate that a double bacon cheese burger with mayo and large fries does not a healthy meal make, yet that is just the sort of fare that comprises many American’s diets.

    Is it better that people are ignorant of any kind of nutritional or fitness intelligence, or is is better that some bloggers lead them a bit too far one way or the other? That is an answer that I am not prepared to give, maybe your readers have some ideas on the subject.

    One thing is certain, however. North Americans can not continue on their current path to obesity and beyond. Our life expectancy is possibly declining for the first time in history, and the obesity is a prime reason why. It is a shame that in an era when there is so much information on how not to be overweight and out of shape, so many people are.

    Thanks for the post.

  16. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    Steve, Thanks so much for adding your thoughts. I agree, food and product should never have to be combined to describe something we put in our bodies. The obesity epidemic is something I blog about a lot. I am always trying to encourage people, gently, to live a little bit healthier. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion. It’s a great contribution.

  17. Allison October 5, 2010 at 7:37 am #

    Lisa

    Thank your for putting your thoughts and feelings out there on this topic. I have a similar story to yours, I did get to skip a hospital stay thinks to friends of mine college. I was a exercise physiology researcher in lab and now I am pilates teacher.

    I get questions all the time about should I try this and or that. It hard to get people going in a healthy direction. The long road to health and a healthy body is not sexy when the scary short cuts are all over the media and internet and sound amazing.

    Thank you for sharing!

    Allison

  18. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks Allison, I really appreciate your input. :-)

  19. Comments October 5, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    Quite frankly, I’m not going to debate issues surrounding Marie Claire article, other than I do believe fitness bloggers profiting from their ventures do have a reasonable responsibility to their readers.

    However, one thing I’m going to make time to address, is what appears to be a bit of hypocrisy on your side. As a fitness professional, I’ve been around many qualified professionals with certifications from multiple, accredited organizations. I think it’s very narrow-minded for you to assume that because someone received their certification online, as with ACE for example, that they are less qualified.

    Coming from someone who is familiar with both an organization like AFAA and ACE, they each have significant merit. Yet, often times some of the in-person (step inside a gym) trainings raise questions as to how some people even pass and obtain their certifications. Whereas, others learn far more about the human body through a program like ACE, due to their scientific and medical emphasis.

    The bottom line is that any of the top organizations have their strengths and weaknesses. It appears you are highly qualified, but I encourage you to open up your mind regarding some of your peers in the industry, recognizing that simply because they did not choose to pursue educational training in the same manner you did, does not mean they are less qualified than you.

  20. Diane October 5, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    It’s really interesting reading the thoughts and comments here. I do agree that there is a much higher level of responsibility to readers when you have a high level of media representation with book deals, conferences etc.

    But I feel that part of the responsibility lies with the organizations that are offering that coverage. Surely a reputable publishing house/brand etc. needs to carefully choose the people they are endorsing or using as sponsors?

    What gets me though, is how easy it is for these people to say whatever they want, and have people try and follow a regime which may have been misrepresented. Kind of like the fitness queen with liposuction in Legally Blonde!

  21. Joyce Cherrier October 5, 2010 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Lisa~ I read the article at MC and had mixed feelings about it, knowing many postings that are similar to MC’s get lots of comments and hits. Hey, we’re all talking about it right?

    After more than 25 years in this business, I think the major thing that’s changed is the easy/instant access to every kind of info, good & bad. 20 years ago you would get it at your local fitness center from a professional/resident expert. Now there’s thousands of fitness blogs you can follow and become part of the community. I think that’s a big attraction to someone struggling with weight issues~ finding a connection and feeling not alone. The question is how healthy is the connection?

    I don’t have an issue with fitness bloggers who use science and sound medical, and an expert reviewing their posts to back their content. I do take issue when the power(and we do know it’s power online) becomes about getting advertisers, book deals, and celebrity status at the expense (like you mentioned) of content considered boring/not sexy yet correct/safe.

    Thanks for sharing your story & struggle~ makes me appreciate & luv ya all the more :)

  22. Peter October 5, 2010 at 10:17 am #

    Hi,

    One aspect of this ginned up controversy (by MC) that is good id that I’m coming across great blogs I’m not familiar with, like yours, Lisa.

    I do have two comments – I have PTSD – it is my responsibility to avoid triggering situations, not society’s to guard me from them. If some one has an ED (or PTSD) where do you draw the line of censorship? I’ll go with the First Amendment, thanks.

    Outside of eating an appropriate amount of calories for activity level and eating a wide variety of organic (and non-organic)foods, Healthy Tipping Point doesn’t give nutritional advice (except that whole vegetarian thing – I blame her husband).

    I read the other blogs occasionally, but have never seen what the
    article talks about.

    HTP Dad

  23. Liz Marold October 5, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Lisa you have always been open about your eating disorder and your recovery. I know you are a fanatic about putting out accurate and safe information for your readers. Hopefully sharing your story in this format will let others who may be suffering from eating problems that there is help out there and recovery is possible.

    You have worked hard to get where you are and are blessed with good friends and a supportive family.

    Mom

  24. Suzanne October 5, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    I don’t read the blogs in question. Blogs that document every bite taken and every mile ran are a little creepy to me. I have no interest in validating someone’s obsessive need to blog about every move they make. That said, I think bloggers as popular as these do have some responsibility here. They are impacting people who might be very vulnerable. Sure, it should also be “reader beware.” But it’s the commercial nature of these blogs that make them accountable.

  25. Suzanne October 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    Incidentally, I am not formally educated in fitness (yet) but I back up my posts with research and many years of experience. Most bloggers do their best and have good intentions. Still, readers should act like consumers when they read any online information.

  26. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    Peter,

    I know what you mean, there’s a slippery slope between personal accountability and receiving dangerous information. Do I think any of these girls had dangerous info? No, not really. Just that someone looking to use it in a negative way could. That’s not really their fault. thanks for your comment. Glad you found my blog. :-)

    Joyce,

    I completely agree with you. It used to be a lot more censored, you got bad fitness advice in the checkout line at the grocery store and good fitness advice from your high school coach. ;-) Now it’s hard to consider the source. Everyone seems friendly and successful with their own health endeavors so how much does that transfer over to actual credentials? Definitely not as much as I’d like.

    Diane,

    A reputable publishing house doesn’t know anything about fitness either! They are just looking for best sellers and anyone with a platform has that potential. The people making the decisions on which book to buy have pretty much the same level of information as the general fitness population. That is to say that they might workout and have proficiency at a sport or specific exercise regimen but that doesn’t mean they know how to discern good information from bad. Case in point, how many people bought Suzanne Somers thigh master?

    Lisa

  27. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    To Comments,

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all. I took the AFAA certification back when it wasn’t online and was absolutely horrified at how little information I was given before I was “turned loose” on the general fitness population. I began taking weekend class after weekend class trying to get more and more information. When I see someone with an AFAA cert waltzing around like they have as much information as I do frankly it annoys the crap out of me. AFAA and ACE are both entry level certifications to the fitness industry. They should not be considered the standard or a “better than average” certification. They are only average at best. Do a little research and look at NSCA and ACSM certifications or better yet compare that to a college educated trainer with a Bachelor’s in exercise physiology or kinesiology and then get back to me on who you would prefer to work with in a gym.

    Lisa

  28. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks Mom :-)

  29. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Suzanne, there are definitely two sides to this, there is reader and blogger responsibilities. Hopefully this post and others like it will encourage this discussion to be more wide spread so that readers can learn more and more about where they’re getting their information.

    Thanks,

    Lisa

  30. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm #

    I have taken down two responses. A 2nd post from Anonymous & a reply from me. While I’m happy to debate the issue of credentials. I have decided this comment thread isn’t the place. I’d like to keep it focused on the Marie Claire article and the responsibilities of bloggers and the personal responsibility of the blogs readers. I am happy to offer a guest post to the Anonymous person (but you’ll have to tell me who you are) to discuss the merits of various levels of certification in the industry. I never delete people’s comments because I believe every voice has validity even if I don’t agree with it. So, Anonymous, the offer is out there for you. I’m happy to have you guest post.

    Thanks,

    Lisa

  31. BostonSportsWoman October 5, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Lisa:
    I commend you and all those who have responded to this article. MC has clearly done their job, and done it well.
    What I have read in several posts commenting on this article is just what so many of your readers are asking: the responsibility of the blogger and the information they provide. As bloggers are not journalists, or at least they weren’t until the newspaper icon Howard Kurtz left the Washington Post today for the Website, The Daily Beast. Blogs were initially web logs and now as in all things, the web has evolved as our resource for information. What we all need to learn now, similar to when we did our first research project, is how to determine the information we are reading is fact, fiction or fantasy. This is a new generation of writers, they are young, vibrant, honest and naive.
    Our website carries two of these blogs, in fact, we carry several food bloggers who take pictures of their food, post it and share it on the web. I would hate to censor them in any way, or question their intention with their words, as it is just that, their own words.
    Until the rules for blogging are made clear, it is an open book, and open for discussion on how information is displayed on the Internet. Until then, the reader needs to make their own judgements just like with any article you read even in the Boston Globe.

  32. Lisa Johnson October 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Kathy, thank you so much for your comments. Will the bloggers ever be given guidelines? I hope not. Not unless they freely choose to live under a certain set of guidelines anyway. I can’t see how in the global cyber universe an agreed upon rulebook could ever be conceived. We are media, we are entertainment, we are personal bloggers with a public forum, we are professionals seeking to improve our professions. We are all of these things.

    I have standards for myself. Standards that as a person who makes her living from the fitness industry I feel need to be higher than most. I weigh that responsibility regularly when I write posts that I hope are funny, informative and useful.

    I would like to see an AP Style book of sorts for bloggers. A general guideline that makes sense for people and that people could follow along with, but it should be voluntarily adopted or ignored.

    You shouldn’t expect a regular 20-something girl who likes to run and blogs about her daily life to be able to say break down the kinetic chain of a runner’s gait. That’s not what she’s about and that’s the job for some guy with a kinesiology degree. A more simplistic example is you wouldn’t expect a high level Japanese chef to be able to flawlessly knock out a high end Italian dinner. It’s just not his thing …

    I appreciate the sentiment and we’ll certainly see where this all goes won’t we? I would like to think that this discourse today throughout the web has created an opportunity for all bloggers to assess their message and maybe improve it. I know it sure did for me.

    Thanks,

    L–

  33. Shayna Walker October 6, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    I was touched by your article, Lisa. Your expertise is coupled with poignant experience, and it adds tremendously to your already established credibility.

    I agree with Sarah that this applies to more than just fitness blogging. In the wedding industry there is almost no barrier to entry in the majority of the fields, and anyone can buy business cards, start up a company…and blog. Thankfully, the bad advice that we find from these non-pros most of the time isn’t mortally threatening like it can be in fitness, but it does damage – both to the readers and to those of us who really are experts in our field.

    There is no barrier to entry in blogging, so it takes articles like yours to remind people that “consider the source” can be a life or death matter.

    Thank you for your courage.

  34. Lisa Johnson October 6, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    Shayna, thanks very much for your thoughts, I appreciate them :-)

  35. Jenna October 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm #

    Lisa – Great post & comments!

    I am not a blogger. I do read several blogs regularly. There are many blogs that I have read once and chosen not to return to again because I didn’t enjoy what I read or did not find the blogger to be a good source of information. There is tons of fitness and nutrition information available on the internet, on tv, in magazines, at the gym and in blogs. As I’m typing, I am watching the Biggest Loser and cringing at some of the training techniques being used – the majority of these exercises would not be safe for the average person! I also have a magazine in front of me with an article promising “flat abs in 3 weeks with 4 simple exercises-and no diet!” It is an individuals responsibility to filter this information and apply it to their own life appropriately. Viewers/Readers need to take responsibility.

    It is also important to consider the blogger’s reason for blogging. Although I am not a blogger, I imagine that when someone starts a blog there is a goal in mind? Lisa, you are incredibly passionate about health & fitness and genuinely interested in helping others. These intentions are very clear from your daily posts and your comments. You have clearly stated one of your goals, “to dispel the misinformation.” Some of the bloggers from the MC article are simply sharing their experiences with health and food – they are not claiming to be experts in their field, but are using blogging as a creative way to tell their stories/struggles/successes. So perhaps their goal is just simply to share their daily life and hope that it inspires someone to try a new recipe, go for a run, or set a weightloss goal. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that (as long as they keep it to a personal story and do not claim to offer “expert” advice). I think it is important to consider the source as well as the overall goal of the blog when choosing information and applying it to your own life and body.

    Ok, enough blabbing!
    -Jenna

  36. Lisa Johnson October 6, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Jenna thanks for sharing your thoughts. There is a difference between sharing a life experience and being trained in a certain field. You can read a lot of medical journals and even blog about them but that doesn’t make you a surgeon!

    The greatest gift of this post has been the atta girls I’ve gotten. It’s pretty rewarding to hear you guys say that I’m getting through (at least a little) and putting out useful advice (hopefully in an entertaining way).

    Looking forward to watch you continue to blossom as a Pilates instructor, still bummed you don’t live near me anymore!

    Lisa

  37. Liz N October 8, 2010 at 1:56 am #

    Hi Lisa,

    I wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post. I’ve never read your blog before, but got linked to it through the whole Marie Claire controversy. I also teach Pilates and am an exercise professional and hope I keep it real with my readers as well. Looking forward to reading more and signing up for your blog feed.

    Thanks
    Liz N (Australia)

  38. Lisa Johnson October 8, 2010 at 7:52 am #

    Liz thanks so much for stopping by. It’s nice to meet kindred souls. I did some Pilates training in Australia and loved the vibe there. Actually got offered the chance to open a studio in Bondi and turned it down and I still regret it!

  39. Will February 22, 2012 at 10:45 am #

    Lisa,

    Thanks so much for this post. I think if anything reading these blogs helps others to realize they are not alone and that can inspire them to learn more and take the actions best – and healthiest – for their lives. Keep the good news coming :)

  40. Lisa Johnson February 22, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    Thanks Will, appreciate that. :)

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