Am I vain to have a fitness instagram?
Is social media positive or negative for health and fitness?
What are the dangers of social for the fitness industry?
In this post I wanted to look at some of these FAQs because I think it’s a super important issue!
Vanity, fitness and social media
Did anyone see the article in The Independent that was from last year, but recently re-did the rounds on Facebook? “People who post their fitness routine to Facebook have psychological problems, study claims”.
Their argument goes that basically fitness posters are more likely to be narcissistic. Personally, I think this is hilarious (and wrong!) because:
- When you think about it, all of social media is a bit narcissistic – it assumes anyone is interested in your nights out, holidays, cocktail photos, fitness, whatever.
- At least fitness posts are motivating and go to accountability too!
- In my experience, it has cured me of unhealthy habits and thoughts about eating and exercise, and motivates me to stick at a routine!
- Fitness bloggers create content that is more relatable than some expensive Harley Street doctor. I’ll deal with the dangers of this shortly, but it also motivates people seeing NORMAL GIRLS (and guys!) transform themselves.
- It makes health and fitness accessible!
- My friends who post about fitness are some of the least narcissistic people you’ll ever meet! #justsayin’
This is just my opinion, and I think Brunel might do well to widen their research into social media usage because by this token the entire world is narcissistic, because whatever you share is arguably to show people your life and for validation!
The Good, The Bad, The Highlight Reel, The Ugly: DANGERS OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Can social media be dangerous for fitness and health? In a word, YES! I think people do need to use it with caution, for these reasons:
- A huge number of people dole out dodgy advice who ARE NOT QUALIFIED. It takes years to get a proper nutrition degree but these days anyone can get a certificate online and call themselves a ‘nutritionist’. Always check people’s qualifications. Go to your GP or a nutritionist to check any dietary advice you’re given. For example, I can give you my experiences of nutrition, and I have studied it during my gym instructor qualifications but I would NEVER recommend you follow my advice on nutrition without checking with someone properly qualified, and for this reason I’m looking at topping up my qualifications to PT.
- Social can be equal parts empowering but also self-esteem shredding. Sometimes seeing other peoples’ flat abs, or whatever, can feel soul-crushing when you’re not getting the results you want. I posted about this here, but remember comparison is the thief of joy. If you find yourself obsessing, take a social media break. Have a cheat day. Do things you enjoy unconnected with fitness. And make sure YOU DO YOU. Everyone’s bodies are different. Ok? Your health is PARAMOUNT.
- Instagram for example, can make you think you need to do certain things when you don’t! It certainly gave me the idea I needed protein powder, Carb Killa bars, protein bars and snacks and products… when you don’t have to! Take time to figure out what works for your body! What other people are doing may work for them and be a disaster for you. For example, I don’t have ANY milk (cows, alternatives, other!), I have water on my cereal… BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU SHOULDN’T! I basically don’t like it, and don’t see any benefits in forcing myself. It doesn’t mean it’s bad for you though – so don’t mindlessly copy other people’s regimes.
- PSEUDOSCIENCE IS SO BAD! Detox companies make such tenuous claims about how their teas will make you skinny and detox your body… but darlings, that is what your liver is for!!!!!! They’re dressing things up as ‘science’ that are essentially BS to sell products. Look for credible studies and scientific sources. And watch the documentary exposing this: Clean Eating: The Dirty Truth.
So that’s a lot of the dodgy stuff. But it can be a great learning tool too, used with moderation, research and common sense! My top tips for getting the best out of it are:
- Use it for accountability and motivation.
- Try your best not to compare yourself to others. It will happen naturally, but take regular social breaks, do yoga to help boost self acceptance, and keep life in perspective with this post on boosting body confidence.
- Stay safe! Use it for initial research and inspiration, but make sure you check credible sources, and always remember you can ask your GP or a nutritionist for advice.
- Remember that as much as people say they’re being ‘real’, content that goes up on any social platform can be heavily edited, and just a highlight reel. Even ‘real’ shots of peoples’ rolls may be selectively nicer than reality!
- Don’t believe everything you read online, anywhere. Take things with a pinch of salt and a healthy dose of scepticism.
Ok girls?! This isn’t meant to be a scary lecturey post, but something to hopefully boost your confidence in separating fact from fiction, and most importantly helping you STAY SAFE!