Not Another Sweaty Selfie

Every time I post a fitness related photo or quote I feel as if I can hear the eyes rolling all over Facebook and IG. I’m not the only one. A few weeks ago a couple of friends of mine were subjected to some pretty harsh critiques for sharing their fitness journeys. One was told quite literally that she was “Too old for this sort of thing.” Ahem. So aside from my taking issue with the ridiculous idea that taking care of yourself is only for “young” people… I could add a few more reasons these haters should be thanking their lucky stars these ladies are on their newsfeed. 

Social media does a lot, and not all of it is good. But the realm of fitness focused posts is growing, and being on either side of it, even unintentionally, often has positive ramifications. Any coach or trainer will tell you that teaching their clients to reward themselves in a healthy way is a huge motivator and can often determine whether or not a client sticks with their healthy changes. There are many ways to reward yourself but some are largely overlooked. Tracking your workouts, is in fact a reward. Logging your gains and journaling your progress is a huge motivator (and also helps provide a better picture of progress than a scale or a measurement). When I can write down that I upped my weights from last weeks workout, that’s a huge push for me to keep going, even when the going gets tough. Those sweaty selfies that sometimes inspire eye rolls and rude gestures directed at your phone screen? Those are rewards too. They memorialize a job well done and help get that particular person to motivate themselves to drag their butt out of bed at an ungodly hour to get that workout in. So yes, they might be patting their own back, but in a world with a rapidly rising obesity rate, I’ll high five the person who is proud that they finally can do ten push ups when they started at one. And I’ll “Like” it every time.

But it’s not just good for the person in the picture. It’s also good for you too. In Michael Matthews book “Thinner, Leaner Stronger” he spends some time talking about the idea of “social proof”. This is the idea that we use an imagined sense of what everyone else is doing to gauge our success. So it’s the voice that says “I may have had a few slices of pizza, but everyone else eats the whole thing!” Or “I may have spent too much over budget on clothes this month, but Jane does it every month!”. The problem with it is that justifying our actions against an imagined social group doesn’t actually help us get to our goals, whether they are physical or financial. (And often our idea of what others are doing is completely inaccurate, as well.). So if your goal is to save money for a home, filling your newsfeed with others who are trying to do the same thing is a huge motivator. When you are tempted to splurge, you’ll be less likely to take your eyes off the prize. Likewise, when your alarm goes off and you are tempted to sneak in an hour of extra sleep instead of getting that workout in, having a legion of sweaty selfies just waiting for you in Instagram might be the push you need to get it done.

 In a world where our phones connect us across the globe, we can to some extent choose what we surround ourself with. “Like” a million celebrity chefs posting high fat meals and your newsfeed might send you running to the nearest restaurant, healthy eating goals be damned. But follow some personal trainers, fitness gurus or even motivated friends and you change your social media landscape dramatically. Motivation is something that ebbs and flows, and we need to continually renew our focus to reach our ultimate goals. Having even a virtual team backing you up can help you push through when you are running low on motivation.

So whatever it is you are working on, surround yourself with likeminded people. Find people with drive, ambition, motivation. Find them in real life and online. Make your newsfeed work for you. And instead of rolling your eyes, let’s get a fist bump next time.

Catherine Wall