Healthy. Fitness. "Shredz". Lean bean. Ripped. Buff. Gym rat.
The list of "fitness" slang terms and "norms" that society has developed today is perpetual. If you're not shredded, you're not fit. Don't have thousands of Instagram followers on your fitness account? Psh, you might as well just delete the account. Haven't prepped for a bikini competition? Well, you better start now!
Yeah, right. (She says with severe sarcasm)
It all starts out very innocently, and in most cases, begins when everyone else in the social media world wants to "cut down" for summer to fit into the itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikinis. (Were you singing that in your head as you read that? Yes? No? Maybe it's just me who remembers that commercial...). I have been taking a little personal break from Instagram the last few days, and it has been challenging. Now that I actually physically write that out...it sounds very sad. It's sad that I'm having a hard time staying off of Instagram. The average person would think it's because I'm addicted to my phone and can't live a waking moment without seeing what popular fitness accounts are posting to the feed.
I wish that was the real problem.
The real problem is that I (and many, many, MANY) girls (and boys!) use social media apps for comparison. Comparing my body to someone else's, looking at my body and thinking, "What am I doing wrong? I mean, she's shredded as it is! If she's trying to lean out for summer, then I should have started weeks ago!"
The thoughts are never ending and start a viscous cycle. The fitness community has evolved into something that is all about shredding down for summer, bulking in the winter, and sucking people into buying their programs that will "get you a booty-licious butt in 30 days". Now, there are a lot of incredible people on Instagram that have helped me immensely and are as real as they come (you know who you are!). This is not a post to point out who's real and fake. That's not what I'm here to do.
Click on your explore feed on Instagram. Search "#healthy". Without even looking, I know that you're looking at washboard abs (on both girls and guys), diet food, and insane exercises. Am I right or am I right? I know, I know, I'm just that good. These are the kind of posts that convince young people this is what they "should" look like. If it's trending on social media, it has to be legit, right?!
For so many years of my youth, I have tried to fit in with the Instagram fitness community. I tried shrinking myself for a peace of mind I never got. I would delete pictures that I once posted because society made me feel as if I wasn't lean enough or didn't have enough bulging muscles to show to the world. A once confident post-workout selfie had turned into a deleted selfie after getting less than X amount of likes. Now tell me, since when is the number of double taps you receive on your selfie determine what you base your confidence off of?
If you're trying to change your body in hopes of impressing people on social media apps that you'll never even meet in your lifetime, you need to reevaluate why you're on Instagram. You don't need anyone else's approval but your own.
I've caught myself opening the Instagram app over the past few days out of habit. I exited the app before my newsfeed could load, but the urge was still there. It's funny, isn't it? It's funny how an app can become almost like a drug; The only way to satisfy your addiction is to quick double check that there is someone who has a similar body type as you on Instagram, but it still "Insta-famous" for their body. That makes it "okay" for your body to look the way it does, right?
Annnnnd again, no.
There are other ways to satisfy this addiction. Healthy outlets. It all comes down to how YOU feel about YOUR body, and not comparing it to someone else's. Do I miss Instagram? Yeah, I miss seeing the latest recipes, posts from friends, and the body-positive posts that do exist. However, there are so many things I've found myself doing since not being glued to Instagram these last few days. I've picked up a book I had shut months ago and read for a while. I wrote this overdue post. And my personal favorite, I've gotten to bed a tad earlier as well too. Compared to before, I would be up till a new day striked the clock at midnight scrolling through news feeds.
I challenge you, yes YOU to give up one social media app for a few days. Think deeply about the connection you have to it when it's gone, and if it's a positive or negative connection. There is more to life than impressing fitness gurus on Instagram. I will break my Instagram-free streak shortly, but only to post a huge personal record of a 300lb deadlift. Am I saying I'll never scroll again? Absolutely not. I'll just be sure that the next time I sit down for a scroll session, it's for the right reasons.