One of the things that I love the most about the fitspo community is: rather than competing with each other, all of the girls, both influencers and their followers, can co-exist in harmony. So many girls have different views on different things, but yet we can all respect and even learn from each other at the end of the day.
In this post, I’m going to introduce you my top three fitspos, and explain why they are influential to me and why I look up to them. What I have learnt over the past few months of my journey is: rather than finding one stunning lady to idolize and follow with all of your being, it’s better to be inspired by a few, and tailor things from each that you love in order to best suit YOU and YOUR goals.
KAYLA ITSINES (@kayla_itsines)
Most of you probably know that my fitness journey started back in 2014 as a result of the lovely Kayla Itsines. At the time, her 3x a week BBG guides were exactly what I needed to start getting into a routine. Because her workouts are very plyometric, cardio-based, at a relatively high intensity, generally girls are able to lose excess fat over a period of 12+ weeks. I definitely did, and soon I was well on my way to falling in love not only with health and fitness, but of course, also the aesthetic results.
BBG worked particularly well for me over the period of 2015-2016 summer holidays because both my friends and my boyfriend at the time were away – so I literally had nothing better to do. I would do BBG on my kitchen floor religiously every morning, and I was going through a bit of a stressful time emotionally, so I was running at least every second day in the evening as well as BBG, to try and clear my head. Because of all the cardio, this period was the leanest I’ve ever been, and also the lowest I’ve ever weighed.
When my toxic relationship finally ended and I started getting my life back again, I literally started living more: I started going out again. I chose to go out with mates instead of going to the gym. I was in a better headspace so didn’t feel the need to try and run away from my problems every day. As you can imagine, my health and fitness took a backseat as I focussed more on my general happiness and wellbeing.
I look back at photos from that time with a bit of depression because I now weigh 10kgs more (no jokes) than then. But as of recently, I have started drifting away from Kayla Itsines a bit and seeing what other fitspo is out there, and my views have changed for the better.
ASHY BINES (@ashybines)
I discovered Ashy earlier this year off some of my other favourite Youtubers’ #trippinwithtarte vlogs. She is rather similar to Kayla Itsines actually, in the sense that she is also in a partnership with her husband; together they have brought out food and exercise guides, and more recently, a gorgeous activewear range.
What I love the most about Ashy is how “real” she is. Ashy is very active on Snapchat, to the extent where you actually feel like one of her best mates. Being a fitspo is her career, and she cares about her girls so much that she actually employs a team of people to make sure every comment and inbox is replied to on her various social media platforms. I am obsessed with her reality channel, Ashy Bines Raw, and recommend it to – basically anyone ever.
What I have learnt from Ashy, more than anyone else, is balance. Ashy has the most adorable baby son, and a very demanding full-time job, and yet she still manages to set the perfect example of how we could ALL live our lives if we stopped being lazy and looking for excuses. She is an advocate for morning “fat burning walks” – these done at a fast pace, first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. Sometimes she takes her dog, Scooby, her son, Taj, in the pram, or her two best girlfriends, Sammy and Gretty. 30+ minutes in the morning in the fresh air is a great way to take some time out and start your day on a good note. She only trains 3-4 times a week, but makes sure she gets her walk in daily. Obviously before Taj she was able to train much more, but rather than trying to live an unsustainable lifestyle that no longer suits her the way it once did, she has altered it so that it DOES.
Ashy is an advocate for a balanced, 80/20 lifestyle. This means that you eat well 80% of the time, but allow for life to happen, and enjoy a cheat meal here and there so as not to restrict yourself too much and drive yourself crazy – and it also allows you to learn to enjoy your cheat meals every so often rather than feel guilty about them.
I can’t remember when or where, but a while ago Ashy was talking about how she has brought up her son to eat only whole foods, no processed nonsense. Rather than giving him sugary sweets and chocolates, Ashy bakes “clean” treats with things like dates, almonds, coconut and raw cacao. She ended by saying that obviously when he grows up, he will be able to make his own choices about what foods and drinks he decides to consume, but until then, she loves him so incredibly much that she wants him to be the healthiest little human he could possibly be.
I was so inspired by this and immediately decided to do the exact same if I ever have a child. The more I toyed with the idea, the more it had me thinking… Why am I so quick to want my child, a mere 50% of “me” to eat only healthy, nutritious foods that will fuel his/her body rather than poison it – when with myself, a full 100% of “me,” I care a whole lot less? It was like suddenly a light switched on in my brain. Now I want that for ME, too!
GRCE FIT UK (@gracefituk)
I discovered Grace via my explore page on Instagram, and I’m so used to calling her by her Insta handle that I actually had to Google her surname! (It’s Beverly if you were wondering.) Although I’ve been following her for a while, I only really started taking an interest in her recently when I started watching her Youtube videos.
Like me, Grace’s fitness journey was also inspired by Kayla Itsines’ BBG. She says in one of her Youtube videos that after a while she realised that her body had reached its peak through BBG: she was the leanest she had ever been, and she was maintaining this state consistently. But, this meant that unless she changed something, her body wasn’t going to change. This is how she came to start experimenting with weights. Having lost the excess fat through the cardio of BBG, concentrating on heavier weights and changing up her diet allowed her to put ON weight – but in the form of muscle mass.
My idea of how I would like my body to be aesthetically has changed, since my early days of wanting to be “skinny,” what with a thigh gap and flat tummy like Kayla. I now prefer toned, sculpted muscles that are STRONG rather than lean.
Well that’s the polite way of putting it, anyway.
Grace’s booty though. Nuff said.
WHAT I’VE LEARNT
The one thing that I can’t stress enough is that every single one of us is different. Something that works for one person might not necessarily work for another.
BBG worked for me for a certain time, but I can finally say without any guilt that I have moved on from that now. Over the past year or so, I struggled on and off with BBG, starting 500 times – but never finishing. It had worked for me before, so I kept going back to it (also, I didn’t want to cheat on Kayla by doing anything else.) But Ashy and Grace have made me realise that you are way more likely to stick to something that you actually enjoy. For a very long time, I was able to stick to BBG because I really enjoyed it. But as things in my life changed, my love for BBG changed, and I became demotivated to go to gym, and would end up falling behind and have to play the catch up game. Eventually it would reach the point where I’d be so far behind that I’d just give up.
Grace summed everything up in one of her Youtube videos, and hey, lightbulb moment! Cardio, such as running and BBG, makes you lean out and lose fat. As a result, the muscles you already had underneath are more prominent because they don’t have a layer of fat covering them up anymore. Because BBG doesn’t incorporate very heavy weights, the muscles are tight and toned – but only to a certain extent. Weight training, on the other hand, builds muscle. Bigger, more visible muscle. Obviously.
So logically, according to the results I want to achieve, I have been doing less BBG-style work outs and focusing more on heavier weight training. I do still incorporate a fair amount of cardio, though, I do Zumba and Pound – because they’re SO much fun that I never ever miss a class! In the past I always ran as my form of cardio, but because I’ve been doing it for quite a few years, I’m also bored of it and less motivated to do it – even though I KNOW that running keeps me really lean. So instead of trying to force myself to do something I don’t enjoy – life’s too short man – I just found something I DO enjoy!
In terms of diet, I bought the Kayla Itsines food guide a few months ago, but realised it’s not really a way of eating that I agree with – again everyone is different! The meals in the book are much bigger portions than I’m used to, so I can’t imagine I’ll ever be in a calorie deficit. Her meals also include quite high carbs and dairy, which I try to cut down on because they’re usually the MOST processed. I actually most agree with Ashy’s approach, namely JERF (just eat REAL food,) and eating in order to nourish and fuel my body. I also definitely recommend reaching the place that Grace is at currently: downloading MyFitnessPal and just for a couple of weeks, keeping record of everything you eat. This exposes you to the macronutrient count of different foods, and allows you to make an informed decision of what would be most beneficial to be fueling your body with, ultimately eventually being able to “eat intuitively.”
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Find what appeals to you, and do what you actually LIKE! Kayla and Grace follow completely different style work outs: each have decided which best suits them and make them the happiest. Ashy isn’t able to commit to going to the gym every single day, but she does get a big walk in every morning – because she ENJOYS it. In terms of food, exercise, and basically everything else in life really – find what you enjoy, and what works for you, AND DO THAT! Trying to force yourself to eat or do things you hate is frustrating, draining, and quite frankly, pretty pointless as it’s unsustainable. Find an exercise routine and a diet plan that makes you HAPPY; one of my favorite quotes, and definitely a quote I live by, is: