As a strength coach and personal trainer I am completely immersed in the fitness industry and all it offers. Much of the time this means I get to be surrounded by all the things I love about fitness – things like dedication, intensity, hard work, results, and building relationships. Thanks to the huge influx in social media, fitness has become even more relevant and mainstream with videos and photos of impressive physiques, feats of strength, and inspiring workouts flooding Instagram, Facebook and twitter every day.
As awesome as it is having seemingly endless resources to view motivational videos and body transformations, these same resources have made it impossible to appreciate our own results. Unfortunately, many of the photos of immaculate physiques and 12-week body transformations are photoshopped and edited to perfection, often very different from what the original photo would reveal.
With limited internet research, it is quick to discover how easy it really is to add a shredded 6 pack to someone, crop out unwanted body fat or wrinkles, or add weight to the bar in a photo. The purpose of this article is not to bash on all the photoshopped and edited photos on the internet, after all, they are models, that’s what they do, and it will always exist. The goal is to realize that this is not what we should be comparing our own personal goals or results to. I want to remind people that those expectations are unrealistic, and comparing yourself to an Instagram fitness model or bodybuilder is apples to oranges.
If you are getting results – whether that means losing 20 pounds, getting stronger, or improving your body composition – there will always be something online ready to deflate your self-esteem and diminish those results. The reality is if you are putting in the work and progressing towards the goals you have laid out, then you are well on your way, and truthfully outperforming much of society as it is.
I understand that comparing yourself to yourself and not getting discouraged by images plastered on social media is easier said than done. It is human nature to compare ourselves to what we see. The reality is, there will always be someone bigger, someone stronger, someone leaner, and if we choose to focus on that, fitness becomes discouraging and unsatisfying. Sometimes it takes a little reminder that OUR results matter, and what we have accomplished so far is worth admiring. Let your results be YOUR results, find your motivation amongst your peers and workout partners. Social media fitness models and trending videos of guys doing backflips holding 50 pound kettlebells are for entertainment, not for comparison.
Keep true to your pursuit of fitness and do not be afraid to give yourself some credit, who knows who YOU may inspire on the way!
Jeff Meland is a personal trainer and certified strength and conditioning coach at Primal Power Training.