Social media is prevalent. Especially in today’s world and when it comes to health and fitness. My issue with most health information that you can find on social media is that it is often misguided. By misguided, I simply mean that the information is usually not from a verifiable source or from an expert in the field. By simply going to the gym I can assure you that you are no more an expert than the people I see at the gym on a regular basis. Social media is the powerful tool that many use to spread health messages, which often times turns an informational quest into healthier living an arduous task of sifting through incorrect information.
Following health blogs on Instagram was not my forte when I was an athlete. I didn’t have the time or the need to learn new ways of working out or of recipes and eating healthier. I was eating, sleeping, and dreaming about swimming. It was full time. Once my athletic career ended though, I was swallowed up just like everyone else into the online world of health and fitness.
What is this world?
This world is where anyone from your neighbor across the street or that kid you used to know who cried at recess can be fitness models. They can be sponsored by an athletic leisure/performance brand. They talk about the supplements they are taking. They constantly post pictures of their gains and their progress. They drone on about the meals they cook. If you’re lucky, you may even get to see them throw some inspirational gems your way.
I’m not opposed to the fitness world moving online.
But here are the biggest, most glaring issues:
- Young women and men are impressionable. I’m a huge advocate for self- love and body image. If you don’t like what you look like, chances are other people are going to see this lack of confidence. Social media fitness creates a deceptive picture of people who seem to lead the perfect healthy lives- they don’t eat cheat meals, they have abs, they lift heavy weights with perfect form- and this makes them amazing. It creates this false world that young men and women strive to be apart of. It’s an unattainable goal because the world these Instagram fitness pages present are not real. They’re highlights of a normal life; a life that mirrors what many of their followers have.
- They give nutritional advice. This could possibly be one of the most potent pieces of “wisdom” people throw around on the internet. Too many accounts I have seen toss around nutritional information and guidance to people without any legitimate information to back it up. Furthermore, these people spewing this advice don’t have degrees or certifications in their area of what they claim to be their expertise. They haven’t put in the hours to become an expert or taken the tests that required them to learn the knowledge. They just stand on their powerful online platform in front of thousands of people who don’t know and preach at them the wrong information. Worse yet- they promote other accounts that are just as phony with their information.
- Advertising money making machine. This is a fine line. A lot of successful fitness accounts are created and curated by individuals whose career this is. They are sponsored by different companies and as part of the arrangement promote the company on their page. I respect the individuals that do this because they use the product and the company decided to endorse them because they use the products and they have a large fan base. The individuals who run accounts and endorse or advertise every single product that comes knocking at their door- those are the accounts you have to be weary about. The supplement market is tricky and confusing to navigate enough already; add to that the layers of advertising that are created when you mix in people who look amazing and claim that they did this because they allegedly used a certain supplement.
- Misguided supplement information. This leads me to my next point. Supplements. They’re commonly thrown around and most of the time people don’t do enough research to figure out what they’re putting into their bodies. A large majority of the time they’re using the coupon codes from fitness account pages to simply save 10%. Do your research on supplements. I cannot stress this enough. Supplements work differently for everyone and provide completely different results. Additionally, what many fitness pages won’t tell you- supplements do nothing without proper nutrition and diet.
So should you follow or…?
I follow. I have five main fitness accounts I follow and I stumbled upon each of them by filtering through all of the misguided ones. It took at least two years to find pages that spoke to the fitness journey that I was on or to find someone who was authentic. Education and certifications became an important deciding factor in whether or not I would continue to follow someone or begin to follow. I especially honed in on accounts where the person had dedicated their time to learning more about what they were engaging in- whether this meant they had become a personal trainer, they studied exercise science and nutrition in school, or they were certified nutritionists. It’s hard for me to follow more than five accounts at a time. Because of how the Instagram algorithm is now with mostly only showing you posts from pages you frequently visit, it can become disheartening to see constant high lights from pages where everyone is in exceptional shape.
How To Chose An Account
For myself in particular, I haven’t fully dove into the different trenches of the fitness world in terms of diet and strict work out regimens; more so my training depends on whether or not I’m running in a race or not.
For others, I’m sure there is benefit to following accounts that dive more into nutrition and focus less on different exercises in the gym. There are plenty of accounts that focus on the food side of healthy living and much less on being in the gym. Health is more than just the gym.
Ultimately, as with any advertising platform, the decision is always up to the user on what they want. When you have a want, you will figure out a way to satisfy the want. If your desire is to drop ten pounds by changing your diet, your online research will take you in a different direction than someone looking to squat 200 lbs.
In the meantime, while you determine what your fitness goals may look like, I’ve taken some of the time out of sifting through filth to link below some quality Instagram accounts that don’t violate any of the four points above: