Social Media can be a great source of motivation and an excellent learning tool in the right hands. That said, it’s a free to access and is an unedited platform for anyone and everyone to use.
In recent years there’s been huge amounts of controversy surrounding ‘fitspiration’. Social media – particularly Instagram – is flooded with word-art layered over an irrelevant image purporting to give us the motivation we need to be able to get to the aesthetic we crave.
Whilst that doesn’t sound particularly damaging, the problem with ‘fitspiration’ is that in the absence of education (about fitness, nutrition and health), it can be severely misleading and lead the impressionable down a path of self-deprecation. It can also be so terrible that it’s actually humorous.
Here’s my pick of the worst #fitspiration quotes I’ve found to date:
“A year from now, I’ll be glad I started today”
A F**KING YEAR?! Quite frankly this is one of the least motivational quotes I’ve ever come across. Call me impatient, but if it’s going to take a whole year see any benefit from going to the gym then I’m not sure it’s going to be worth washing my hair that many times in a week.
“Workout now so that next year everyone be like… HOLY SHIT!”
Everyone?!!! Wow. I hate to say it, but ‘everyone’ probably doesn’t really care that much whether you have one belly roll or two. Your Mum might notice if you drop a few pounds and your Nan might ask if you’re getting enough hot meals, but this hypothetical “everyone” probably doesn’t give a shit.
The people who do care and who might notice will see you in that year, so any changes will be much more subtle and less instantly impactful than if it had happened overnight. If you highlight it to people, they’ll probably be like “oh yeah. Well done.” Or “Shit I can’t believe that was you”. If however, you’re going to morph into world-renowned supermodel Adriana Lima in that year, then the “HOLY SHIT” would be quite legitimate.
“Wake up and Work out”
This little gem, besides being extremely insightful, is typically overlaid on top of an image of a semi-naked woman looking mildly greasy but who is nonetheless attempting to lift weights in a bikini with a full face of makeup and clip-in extensions, which immediately makes me question the relevance of the post.
What happens if I want to wake up, have a brew, watch some TV, eat some peanut M&Ms and then work out?!
Let’s face it, people who have to get up and go to work might have other priorities and sometimes working out has to be further down the list. If only life was a simple as ‘wake up and work our’. Jeez. If those were the only two things on my to do list I can promise you I would be fast, lean, ripped and super-bendy.
“Eat better, not less”
I’m pretty sure portion size comes into it somewhere. There’s no point consuming endless piles of fruit and vegetables, only to exceed your calorie and nutritional requirements for the day and give yourself the shits. Eating 20 apples in the place of a balanced diet is bollocks. Not only that, if you are eating too much then you actually should be eating less!
“Summer bodies are made in winter”
One of the worst realisations about adult life is that you actually need to keep an eye on your diet and fitness all year round, but denying yourself throughout winter won’t automatically mean you look like a supermodel once it’s warm enough to switch the heating off.
Personally I’m not prepared to give up pigs in blankets, advent calendars and hot cider over the festive period. That’s not to say I’ll abandon the gym and bury my face in the chocolate tin whilst hooked up to an IV of mulled wine either.
I’m not sure I know what a summer body is anyway.
“Sweat is fat crying”
Both factually incorrect and disgusting, this quote associates exercise with punishment when a lot of the time it can be as enjoyable as the fat-torching results.
“Don’t stop when it hurts, stop when you’re done”
THIS IS BAD ADVICE. Failing to recognise pain as a reason to stop exercising is how I ended up with shin splints, a pulled calf muscle and a suspected stress fracture. By all means, put some real effort in and work through the discomfort that we all know is supposed to happen during tough exercise, but if it’s hurting so much that it’s damaging your form then it’s probably not right.
I probably should have taken a break from training for half marathon No.1 when I was hobbling along dragging one leg behind me in a tube bandage. Yeah. Daft right?!
Listen to your body. If there is a pain which doesn’t stop when you do, then rest up or go and get it checked out!
“Because the next few months will go by no matter if you work out or not”
So what we’re saying here is that what I do in my life has no impact on the passage of time, and ultimately the passage of time is the progression along the timeline to death.
Whilst we cannot control time, we can optimise how we use it. This unfortunate turn of phrase purports to make us jam-pack our lives doing useful things, but whilst the statement isn’t necessarily wrong, it isn’t that motivational either.
“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress you are still ahead of everyone who isn’t trying”
What have we to aspire to if the bar is set that low?
Let’s apply the same reasoning to my difficulties in baking a good cake. I could make the worst concoction in the world –so bad in fact that it gives everyone who eats it a headache, vomiting and diarrhoea simultaneously and that would be fine, because it’s better than not having a cake.
The possibility of being better than crap at something doesn’t motivate me to do anything. I at least want to be ahead of a couple of people who are trying even if their version of trying is a bit half-hearted – that’s just human nature.
“A 1 hour workout is just 4% of your day”
Perhaps this is true if you’re unemployed or privileged enough not to require a wage. Let’s say our typical working adult starts with 24 hours. Take off 10 hours working and commuting (on a good day!). Take off another 8 hours for the recommended amount of sleep. Take of another hour for preparing and eating your evening meal. Without getting any housework done or engaging in any social or recreational activity with important people, the time available to the perpetually desk-bound is already reduced to 5 hours. Suddenly that critical hour is 20% of the day.
I agree that most people can fit exercise into their day (in fact I’ll wax lyrical about it in a future post) but it can be difficult and statements like this one undermines the commitment it takes.
It sounds like I’m berating everyone who posts on social media, but that isn’t the case.
There a lots of interesting and hard-working people who share snippets of their life through the lens of an iPhone and following them can be motivating, educational, inspirational and eye-opening.
The intended message here is to operate a bit of common sense.