Assuming you have at least a mild interest in fitness, because you are reading this blog, you most likely follow a few fitness Instagram profiles. Probably the “big dogs” on the platform; Jen Selter, Somer Rey, Ulisses Jr., or some Gym Shark athlete like David Laid.
All very impressive athletes in their own right, and it shows. They receive MONSTER amounts of follows, likes, and Insta-love on the daily. Social Media users all clamoring to see what they are doing, and how they are doing it because their follower bases think how they look should be the only result of exercise. I hate to burst your bubble but these profiles are full of professionally taken and airbrushed photos, shoddy advice and product placement, run by individuals with a full time job of looking they way they do, and got there with some "supplements" you can't find at the local GNC... if you catch my drift.
But... Have you ever heard of people and accounts like Andy Galpin, Jordan Syatt, James Smith, Aaron Horschig of Squat University, or Jaguar Fitness and Nutrition?
Across those profiles you can find concrete, no B.S., knowledge about: weightlifting, mobility training, real nutrition, sustainable weight loss (not green tea pills and waist trainers), and muscle growth.
Those profiles must be POPPIN huh? No, their followers put together aren’t even a stones throw away from one of those “big dogs”.
Wait what? That doesn’t make sense…..
Welllll it does when you go to the under-followed profiles and see that they aren’t rocking chiseled 12-packs, striated muscle, painted on leggings, or tons of bare skin while hitting curls and flexing in a mirror to the dopest new EDM banger on Soundcloud.
Unfortunately fake results and unrealistic promises are a bit shinier than achievable expectations and knowledge with depth that takes time to grasp.
Now I’m not trying to totally destroy the social media fitness giants. They are the top 1% of the top 1% when it comes to how they look. They are basically the un-officiated NBA all-stars of being jack/shredded or “body goals”. To look like that and achieve what they have has taken and exorbitant of time, effort, dedication, and mastery of their craft. They have also, undoubtedly, inspired some to get active and start on a road to a healthier lifestyle. Being an optimist for the moment, I do believe that that is what they originally set out to do. Inspire people to achieve things that they never thought they could. Unfortunately, there is a dark side-effect to the psyche of those aspiring to be like them.
These all-stars are inspiring you to do one thing, look PERFECT. That’s it, the whole goal of fitness boiled down to 3 variables: your weight, body fat percentage, and how you look in the mirror.
Now... before you think I’m going to go on some extreme body positivity rant about how we should never worry about the scale, that your body fat percentage doesn’t matter, or improving how you look should never be a goal. We should, it does, and it can be… but only to an extent.
The scale and body-fat percentage can be direct indicators of where your health is headed. For some social justice warrior hard-o to try and tell you that you shouldn’t change your lifestyle habits to move away from obesity is insane advice if you care about your health. You want to look better? That’s fine too. Looking leaner and a bit more muscular can also have positive benefits on your life. It can bread confidence to make you feel more comfortable to get out and enjoy all that life as to offer.
However, these goals get lost when these 1%ers define themselves as the only outcome considered successful. Then try to sell you on some “perfect plan” that will get you there in a couple of months. Like I said they are the all-stars. If Lebron James tried to sell you a two-month basketball training plan promising that you would be starting along side him on the Lakers and two months later you didn’t have a contract offer in the mail would you feel like a failure? Probably not.
It is detrimental to the psychology of someone starting to get in shape when they compare themselves to the elite on either an aesthetic or performance level. You have a life, one that is complicated, busy, and full of other priorities. Fitness should absolutely be a part of it but unless you plan on being a professional body builder, fitness model, or CrossFit games athlete you need to approach fitness with much more realistic expectation.
The gym is hard work but proper programming and a willingness to commit yourself to a process with full effort will yield incredible achievements. From a mental and health perspective you can expect improved energy, a sense of confidence, mental fortitude, less chronic pain, and better regulated hormones just to name a few.
Athletic results shouldn't be forgotten either. Becoming stronger, faster, more agile, and more mobile can provide you with a functional, durable, reliable, and enjoyable body.
None of those have to be achieved in tandem with a rippling 12-pack, a 00 dress size, a 800lb deadlift, or a 40-yard dash time that would make combine scouts do a double take.
Consistency and a willingness to be pushed beyond what you think you can do will be rewarded. Celebrate your accomplishments not compared to the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine but compared to the person you were a month ago, a week ago, or even yesterday. Never let your Instagram feed take that away from you. Get your reps in my friends.