The fitness realm of social media gets a bad wrap, yet, we can’t seem to peel ourselves away. We share some tips with you on how to use it so that it enhances your experience as you aim to meet your fitness goals!
by Kailan Kalina
Ah, social media. You either love it, or you hate it. Bring in the fitness side of things and the divide is even more severe. There’s a plethora of information out there, everyone is an “expert,” and if you’re like me, you probably lose track of how many ab selfies you see inadvertently each day.
So yes, social media has its ups and downs, but it truly all comes down to how you use it. When you have health & fitness goals you’re trying to meet, it can either be a total time-waster that makes you feel worse and worse about yourself with every scroll, or one of the most useful tools in your fitness journey.
Here’s how you can use social media networking apps to help you learn, stay motivated, and on track with your health goals:
1. Follow accounts that inspire you.
Inspiration is probably one of the main reasons many of us follow other fitness accounts in the first place. Whether you’re an aspiring athlete, new to weight loss, or just trying to live a healthier life, there are thousands of fitness accounts on Instagram and Facebook pages with training and nutrition tips and the occasional motivational boost we need to work hard. There’s something about watching someone else succeed and lead that makes us want to do better ourselves – and there’s nothing wrong with that!
2. Unfollow the accounts that make you feel like garbage.
Now, on the opposite side of inspiration/motivation are the negative feelings that can come up for the observers. Constant comparison of your journey or your body to others can be really wearing on your own progress, leading to feelings of unworthiness or poor self-esteem. If you start to notice that social media is messing with your mental health, it may be a sign that you need to purge the accounts that are causing these feelings.
You may even find that your motivation to even bother trying is shot. In that case, it’s worth it to stick to following accounts that simply educate you on nutrition, training, and overall health rather than “fitspo” accounts.
3. Use social apps built for fitness communities.
There are many social platforms outside of Facebook and Instagram that can help with your fitness goals on a much more specific level. Apps like Strava and Map My Run are excellent tools if you are a runner or a cyclist! Strava free and allow you to log your routes, import data from wearable fitness devices, and connect with other runners/cyclists. You can share your routes on your feed so friends and followers can comment and encourage, and there are tons of clubs that organize activities together.
Map My Run has a similar premise, allowing you to track everything from pace to stride length, with the bonus of personalized coaching tips. You can join challenges and find other runners local to your area as well!
PumpUp is a newer app that has launched as a fitness-only social network where you can share photos of your fitness journey and connect with others living a healthy lifestyle. It also allows users to build and track custom workouts!
4. Join Facebook groups that support each other with fitness goals.
To piggyback off of these community apps…you would be shocked to see how many health and fitness-related groups there are on Facebook. Simply typing in “fitness groups for beginners” in the search bar yields hundreds of results!
However, I would recommend searching for something local, if possible (for potential workout partners, of course!), and be specific about what you’re looking for: yoga, vegan, CrossFit, nutrition coaching, gender-specific groups…you name it, it’s out there. Especially if you live in a more urban area or close to a major city. It may take time to sift through, but do your research into the group to make sure the information they provide is reliable (and that the group admin isn’t there to just sell you stuff).
It’s not uncommon to see local gyms create private Facebook groups for members, too. This helps keep that community feeling strong. If that’s what you’re looking for, try branching out from commercial gym settings (where it can sometimes be challenging to connect with others due to the size) and finding something more tight-knit.
5. Find resources and individuals who aim to share reliable information.
This part can be VERY tricky. There is probably more bad info out there than good, but don’t let that discourage you! There are ways to navigate this and it takes time to learn to spot the gimmicks. But the more you educate yourself, the better equipped you are to spot out the junk and hit “unfollow” or “unfriend.”
Here are some general things to look out for when following fitness professionals:
- Be aware of people who make absolute or extreme claims. Examples: “Lose 20 pounds in 20 days! Never eat this food or that food, it’s bad for you. Melt that stomach fat with this one trick!”
- Trainers/nutritionists/fitness professionals who are stuck in their ways and can’t admit when they make a mistake and won’t have a conversation.
- Those who don’t back up their claims with research.
- Those who claim to want to help you, but they push (crappy) products more than anything else.
6. Connect with others who have similar goals via DMs.
Building friendships via social media isn’t as weird as it used to be (although, I think it goes without saying that you should still use discretion…). Don’t be afraid to reach out to people via DMs or messenger to ask questions or just to bond over your fitness goals. I can’t tell you how many people I have known for years now and have become great friends through social media alone, all because we randomly found each other on Instagram and connected over our love for lifting.
7. Post your progress to your account and share your fitness journey along the way!
Don’t worry about what your mom, brother, or your former high school classmates will think. This is YOUR journey, it’s your social media account, and your life. You’re allowed to celebrate your wins, share your lessons learned from mistakes you make along the way.
Post your progress pictures, meal prep ideas, recipes, anything relevant to your journey that you feel like could help others. Once you reach your first goal, you’ll be happy you documented the process in a way to reflect on and see how hard you worked! Plus, you never know who you’ll inspire by sharing.
Or, there’s another option in all this, and my final suggestion: Don’t use social media at all. There’s no rule that says you need to follow fitness accounts or share every step of the way to reaching your goals. In fact, many may find that they do BETTER reaching their goals without the distraction and jumble of information. If it stresses you out and hinders more than it helps, there’s no better feeling than hitting that unfollow button.
This is the beauty of working hard to transform your body – YOU have control over what you consume, both food and media-related, and your progress is up to you. Even if you choose not to, you can always find information that you need online to help you get there (like right here at Raw Life Nation!) We’ve got your back!