If you’re into fitness, or have fitness goals, chances are you follow any number of fitness-related instagram accounts for “inspiration”. Anytime you need an extra push to get to the gym or choose to go grocery shopping instead of ordering delivery, you may open the app and navigate to your favorite insta-celebrity. The image of a toned, thin, seemingly fit person on your screen might motivate you, logic dictates, to alter your lifestyle to achieve the same level of fitness. But, will seeing yet another fitness-celebrity’s six pack really elicit change in your behavior, or will it instead continue to reinforce your self-limiting beliefs and entanglement in a culture that insists: the smaller you are, the happier you will feel?
At Pongo Power, we encourage you to stop following accounts that make you feel bad about yourself. Specifically, accounts that make you feel bad that you hope will make you change, so that you can feel good.
There have already been countless articles written on upward social comparison being the thief of joy. Meaning, that while you may think that following that girl or boy with the seemingly “perfect” body is inspirational, it may actually be making you very unhappy. Research shows that an individual’s reaction to someone else’s highlight reel (aka, instagram), varies, but, most report negative effects on overall happiness and mood levels after spending some time on the app, if perusing posts that are deemed “upward” of the viewer in terms of social comparison.
Does this mean instagram is all bad, and should be avoided? No. Another factor is “emotional contagion”, when one person’s emotions transfer to another. With instagram, positive messaging in social media posts tends to elicit positive thoughts in the viewer.
So, how do you go from feeling bad about yourself due to “inspirational” posts of fitness celebrities, to feeling good, from viewing positive posts on social media? What’s the difference between “inspirational” and “motivational”?
Only you know the answer to that. Maybe take a second to navigate to one of the people that you follow for inspiration. Looking at their posts, how do you feel? Any tightness in your chest? Any feelings of “I need to change,” or, “I’m not good enough,” after seeing their images? Ask yourself why. We all know these models use lighting, angles, and extreme diets to achieve to this look… yet seeing their photos over and over again seems to normalize their unrealistic and unnecessary-for-happiness body type. What if you just… unfollowed all the accounts that made you feel bad, and like you needed to change?
What if you replaced those accounts with true body positive practitioners? Ones that weren’t dressing up their ab shots or before/after photos with the #bodypositive, but instead were writing posts to tell the world that we don’t have to lose weight to be worthy, and that we are good enough as is?
So, this New Year, we encourage you to examine the type of messaging you let into your life. Ditch the inspirational images that just make you feel bad, and instead, focus on what makes you feel good. If you want to get stronger, we’re here to help. But, don’t do it for anyone else but yourself!