(and maybe your self esteem, too…)

Ok, I’m the first to admit that I’m an Instajunkie. Everyone has reasons for being on social media, whether it’s to check out fashion, friends, or show the world how darned cute your cat is. But for me, it’s mainly business. The more fitness videos and pictures I post, the more likes and followers I get, which generates more enquiries about what I do and how people can work with me to achieve their fitness goals (I may post animal pictures occassionally, #sorrynotsorry…give me a follow on @alexvalentinept to see pets I steal to cuddle πŸ™‚ )

One thing I really pride myself on when I post on social media, is being genuine. You will very rarely see me post gym selfies where I’m looking anything other than a sweaty mess! (See exhibit A)Why? BECAUSE THAT’S HOW PEOPLE LOOK WHEN THEY TRAIN. If I posted pictures of my “training” in full make up, hair done to perfection, with a tiny crop top on, I would be lying. Not outrightly in words, but portraying the image that people who train hard in the gym look immaculate all the time is lies. I often see girls putting ON make up to take their gym selfies *insert eye roll here*

During my initial consultation with a client, one thing that happens quite frequently is they will get their phone out, and scroll to Instagram. They will present me will a completely filtered, airbrushed and photoshopped image of some Insta-famous person pouting and sticking their bum out to the camera, or some 3% bodyfat shredded to the max bodybuilder clearly 1 week away from competition and say “I want to look like that”.

Now, I’m all for visualisation and fitness goals, but if the image presented is a distortion of reality, how can it be achieved?? People think that fitness models look like ripped, shredded, tanned, lean uber gods or goddesses 365 days of the year. The truth is, the vast majority of fitness models out there will only look at their leanest for a maximum of 4 weeks out of the year. This is when most of their promo shots get taken. The rest of the time is spent bulking up and building muscle (followed by a cutting phase) which carries with it a higher bodyfat percentage. This stops them looking like the lean ripped beasts you see on Insta the whole year round. It is possible to build muscle and stay a bit lean with smart eating, but to build muscle there has to be an excess of calories…which means more body fat. 

So, back to my original point. Why is Insta killing our fitness goals, and sometimes our self esteem? Well, numerous studies have shown a correlation between positive and negative images and self esteem (Valkenburg et al., 2006), and an article in The Guardian has interviewed numerous young women about how Instagram makes them feel. This usually includes things like generating feelings of insecurity, or inadequacy, due to constant bombardment of images of “contrived perfection”. Check out the article here: (https://www.the guardian.com/media/2015/nov/04/instagram-young-women-self-esteem-essena-oneill)

Ask yourself, when you take a selfie, HOW MANY do you take before you settle on the perfect pose, the perfect angle, the perfect filter, the correct amount of hashtags? And you’re just one person. The people out there who are Instafamous are usually selling something, or are sponsored, and maybe have a PR team to help them with their numerous social media accounts, or a professional photographer to make them look great, along with a make up artist to mask any imperfections. Ask yourself, HOW MANY PICS do you think THEY take?? Hundreds. Maybe thousands. 

I’m not saying to stop trying to achieve your dream body, I have complete admiration and respect for anyone who decides to make a change for the better in their life. What I’m saying is, don’t compare reality to Instagram. It’s fake. If someone says they’ve managed to lose 5 stone in 30 days….it’s probably photoshop, and lies. You can reach your goals, all it takes is dedication, eating right, and following a plan. It’s honestly that simple (please note I said simple, not easy!!)  πŸ˜€

Keep striving for your goals, but make sure it’s YOUR goal, and not what you think you should be going for. And if someone is trying to look “perfect”…. it doesn’t exist. That’s why we have Instagram.