Is social media helpful if you want to lose weight or make changes to your health and fitness?

So, your gut instinct is probably no? I see all these really fit looking people or mothers with 8 kids who manage to do press ups with one on each limb and four others doing their own workout. Body builders or socialites with six packs. You have #fitfam or #bodygoals – It’s easy to see just one post that makes you feel inadequate, out of shape or just like you’re not winning at balancing life with nutrition, exercise, sleep, meditation. Vegans who never drink alcohol or celebrities who are in their seventies looking better then we remember ourselves in our twenties. It can feel like a barage of “you’ll never be me” or “you’re just not this good”. Equally sometimes we feel inspired by people’s stories of turning their life around or the hard work of a 5am gym goer. We see how hard someone else works or the commitment they put in and genuinely admire who they are and what they do. So if you’re a ‘normal’ person, walking your daily steps through this crazy thing called ‘life’, is social media really a help or a hindrance?

siobhan

Of course it can be both. It can also be highly addictive, highly depressing or even highly demoralising. It gives us huge highs when we upload a post and we get so many likes. A comment from someone telling us we look good can make our day. If you’re like me, you’ll go through phases with social media. It’s easy when you have something to say or even if you don’t post much but you feel generally positive. We’re happy to see our friend’s holiday snaps or their kid’s first steps (even if sometimes we scroll past the over share of the cat/dog/baby/boyfriend selfie/workout.) Other times social media can represent a perfect scene that we feel is so far removed from our lives.

I’ve personally noticed in the last month that i’ve become slightly more aware of social medias impact. At the time of writing this I got married last month and as i type this, i’m on my flight back from my honeymoon. It’s been a period of wonderful love and happiness but also a period of excessive photos! I felt super excited to share my wedding photos on social media to show my friends and family in Australia, Canada and clients and friends back home. I wanted so much to digitally bookmark one of the most significant days to me. During our honeymoon i wanted to share but became increasingly conscious of the over share. I think i felt more aware at this time partly due to the excess and partly due to some friends circumstances. I have very close friends going through breakups, failed IVF attempts, miscarriages and serious illness. It feels almost wrong or like boasting sometimes to share your happiness. In equal measure, whilst being away and being on social media, I LOVE seeing peoples holiday snaps, happy moments and achievements and hope that i’ll always wish the best for my loved ones.

headache_198243All in all it’s got me thinking about social media. Whilst the last month has been full of happiness for me there is plenty i don’t share on social media. We’ve had a death in the family, a funeral, a scare with a lump that led to minor surgery (thankfully it was all cleared in the end) and various other day to day endeavours. Why don’t we share them? I don’t ‘not’ share them because i want people to think my life is perfect, but equally if we don’t, social media can look that way. Do we want to be there for each other in the sad and the happy? What’s sharing and what’s over sharing? The truth is – it’s quite an individual thing.

So, when it comes to health and fitness, weight loss, strength gain, inspiration – does it help us or hinder us? You probably follow a few people that intrigue you, a few that make you mad but you’re addicted to the social drama and maybe a few who have little impact either way. I’ve concluded that the purpose of social media has become two fold; It’s part communication and sharing for our loved ones. I love seeing pictures from my friends around the world who i’d simply never manage to keep in contact with that frequently through email or calls. I love seeing my friends adventures and fun and their kids growing up (although it’s grey territory with overshare here!!). It’s second part details a life that’s not ours. It’s celebrities, brands, cults or ideals that become so normal through social media that we feel part of them. It’s communities and messages, inspirations and information and access to so many things we never could access before.

I know lots of people who have deleted their social media accounts in moments of rage or depression because they just don’t want to see other people’s lives. So is it more about how we are as individuals rather than about what’s going on?

One thing i’ve noted from being away this time is that being outside Europe meant my access to social media was only during times of wifi access in coffee shops, bars and hotel rooms. Whilst out and about, at dinner or on transport our phones were just cameras. This, i really enjoyed. You know you can still ‘catch up’ on social media once a day or even every few days? The world doesn’t fall apart while you’re gone! It seemed so much healthier than the all day ‘refresh’.

So, as with anything it’s balance. Restrictions can help like stopping after 9pm or deleting apps so you have to log on your computer,

turning off push notifications or un following certain people or celebrities who (for whatever reason) just make you feel small, useless or insignificant. Surround yourself in life and digitally with things and people that fire you up, speak your language and offer inspiration that provokes action rather than reflection that makes you feel inadequate. Have a social media cleanse or try one of the above steps to reduce your time on it. I also think we can all do more to give our own positive vibe out on social media. This is to you scrollers/non posters who still go on instagram and facebook every day but never like or comment. Try saying something nice to a friend. If you’re on social media and you love your friend’s dress then tell them – you might just make their day. If it’s the 10th dog picture or another check into the dentist then just scroll past (or unfollow!)

Let’s document life and share things but let’s not ridicule or make it a place we feel nervous to share our happy or our sad.

I use facebook groups for lots of my work. Running training groups, personal training clients, nutrition challenges etc. The thing that I LOVE is how much support comes through them between people who have never met. Encouragement, positive congratulations or even just a like. They help people keep going.

So if you want to make changes to your body. If you want to get fit, lose weight or start eating better – yes social media can help but let’s make sure we are living too. Let’s make sure we still talk, check in with people really not just digitally and please remember that NO ONE’S life is perfect. Not yours, not mine and not Jennifer Lopez either. Everyone has their struggles weather they post them on social media or not!

I’d love to hear what you think too!

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