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Why Instagram is KILLING your fitness goals….

(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 🙂 )

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!!)  😀

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. 

“New Day” Resolutions

As the year is drawing to a close, it’s time to look back on all the things you have achieved, or made progress towards achieving. It makes us think about about how far we have come, but also, how far we WANT to go. What do you want to do next year? It gets us on to the subject of New Year’s Resolutions, because inevitably, most people make them. And a lot of people make them about losing weight, or “getting fit”. 

I used to buy into it too, I’d even make a list of all my goals after Christmas, and swear I’d be ready for it in the New Year…. and then New Year would come and go, and I might do a couple of things on the list, but really, by March it’s all fallen by the wayside! So why wait until New Year to make a change? If you have the motivation to do it now, DO IT NOW!!

I say this to a lot of people – don’t wait for the New Year to make a change, all you need is a new day! At this time of year though it is hard to get motivated, but now is the perfect time to start training. Our metabolism slows down in winter, we move less, we eat more…. weight gain is going to happen unless we stay proactive! 

Yes, we all overindulge at Christmas, but we don’t have to let it get out of hand. Offset the mince pies and mulled wine by heading down the gym twice a week, and cutting down on any extra sweet treats that might be creeping in. You’d be surprised how much of a difference these small changes can make!

You will limit the potential for seasonal weight gain, AND head into the party season and New Year carrying a little less timber around. It’ll make you feel better about you, help you look leaner and give you a head start if you DO decide to make some New Years Resolutions! Give it a try 😊

If you have any questions or need any advice on how to get your gym sessions started, or how to limit the Christmas bulge, drop me a message on alexvalentinept@mail.com or 07875465275

Fitness Facts and Fiction

It’s that time of year again; the sun is shining (mostly), the thick woolly jumpers are being tossed aside, and more and more websites and magazines are promoting “How to get your perfect beach body”, “Shed 10lbs in 10 days”, and “Use this weird old trick to lose a pound of belly fat a day” (you must have seen that one, right??)

There is so much information readily available to us on the internet and from our peers, that when we want to gain a bit more lean definition and improve our fitness levels, it can be really difficult to know where to start. So how can we tell the fact from the fiction?

Here’s five easy steps to debunking fitness facts from full blown fiction.

1) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Sounds cynical, but it’s a good rule of thumb. If a website or magazine is claiming outrageous results that are difficult to believe to be true, they probably aren’t true. No matter how “scientific” it sounds. This is generally a good rule for life, not just in the gym.

With that said, I’m going to tell you a MASSIVE secret at the end of this article, that will make healthy living and getting a sculpted physique so much easier for you, so read on…..

2) Avoid the “all or nothing” approach.

Many diets and fitness routines tend to focus on one thing, such as only doing cardio, not eating carbohydrates (carbs), only eating protein and fat, or only doing exercises as fast as humanly possible, with no regard for technique or safety. The way you eat and the way you train, like everything in life, needs to be a balance. Treat your training with an holistic view, you wouldn’t only eat bananas or rice, so why would you only eat protein? You wouldn’t squat to your maximum capacity every single day without doing anything else, so why would you run on a treadmill every day and do nothing else?

3) “But I saw this exercise on Instagram….” “It said on Twitter if I do this it’ll make my tummy flat…”

This is an oh so familiar phrase to hear as  Personal Trainer, and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is! Here is a small selection of things I have been told by people (smart, educated, talented people) in the gym:

“I saw a girl on Instagram saying if I eat pineapples every day for a month, I’ll lose a stone”

“I’m wearing clingfilm under my t-shirt cos I read on Twitter if you sweat around your belly you’re sweating your fat out”

“My mate told me if I inject myself with insulin, it makes your muscles grow quicker”

NO NO NO NO NO! Just stop! People GENUINELY believe the bullshit they read online, or what their mates-girlfriends-mothers-pug told them. We might sit here and have a giggle at them, but some of these are actually deadly. Ask yourself, how likely is this to be safe and true? Don’t just believe what you read, do your own research and evaluate the evidence before trying something radical.

4) What do you believe?

Sadly the health and fitness industry is saturated with so-called gurus, experts, and people after a quick buck from preying on peoples’ insecurities. Some people become so engrossed in a certain type of diet or fitness fad, that they find it hard to open their mind to anything else. If someone questions the way you eat or the way you train, and you find yourself getting angry, defensive, emotional, or downright preachy about what you’re doing, ask yourself one question…..WHY? What does this diet or routine mean to you? Is it the best thing for you? Once a belief becomes dogma, it is very hard to challenge, let alone change. Some gym chains, diets, weight loss groups and fitness routines have gathered cult-like status, not necessarily because of the results they yield, but because it gives people something to be a part of and believe in. I can’t deny that being a part of something feels good, and it’s a great way to meet people, and if you’ve done your research and you’re happy that whatever you’re doing is good for you, carry on. But always keep an open mind, because what’s right for you and your body today might not be the right thing tomorrow.

5) The secret way to lose weight fast…

Is to stop looking for quick ways to lose weight or build muscle, and actually use that time in the gym working for the body you deserve. There are so many “secret” ways to weight loss on the internet, the phrase itself is a contradiction in terms. If these weight loss tools were that secret, how come Google spurted out 46,300,000 results when I typed in “secret way to lose weight fast”…it’s clearly not a very well kept secret! Are you ready for the ONLY real secret to decreasing body fat and increasing muscle tissue to give that lean, defined look that most people are searching for……?

Eat less crap. Do more exercise.

 

Simples 🙂 as always, if you’d like any help, advice or clarification on any of my blog posts, feel free to drop me an email on alexvalentinept@mail.com

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