Tips for 2015: Fitness and Social Media

Ethical crisis here.

I have a tendency to over-analyze things, and I’m certain this issue is no exception…However, for months, I’ve felt that it’s time to take my fitness career to the next level, expanding my training services to the online community and my former/long-distance clients. Friends and acquaintances ask me weekly for workouts and/or fitness advice. I love to help people on their fitness journeys and am grateful for their trust. I consider it my calling; my ministry. (I’ll be launching my online training site very soon, so stay tuned!) A sure-fire, convenient way to promote myself is through social media. Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, YouTube and Twitter offer free marketing and easy access to thousands of potential clients.

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Here’s my dilemma: I’m prideful.

In the fitness industry, my body is my advertisement. I wouldn’t train to become fit with someone who isn’t fit. Sorry; that’s common sense. The most obvious way to show your fitness progress via social media is through pictures. But these are snapshots of our outcomes, not our processes. An Instagram of the twist-iest, most beautifully silhouetted yoga pose, a Facebook before/after bikini pic, or a #fitmom ‘s blog post doesn’t give you the whole story. It’s a glimpse into the person’s proud moments, not their failures along the way. Not the hours, months or years it took to reach their goal. Cellulite is filtered out. The crow pose blunders are deleted. I show you my best angle.

Flexing and posing and flaunting are normal for my industry, and it’s what my flesh desires to do. I’ve craved attention and been a show off since the glory days of my neighborhood rollerblade girl band. I see this desire in Finn as he pops wheelies and zooms fast for strangers. Or says things so others will laugh, like, “Hi. I’m Finn Joseph Applesauce.”

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We like to do what we’re good at and we want others to notice. I took a picture of my flexed back in the gym locker room about a month ago. Embarrassed by my vanity, I deleted it the next day. No one cares about my back.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)

I want to be praised for my faith, not my flex.

Don’t get me wrong…visual exposure is not all bad. Maybe these pictures inspire someone–motivate them to get off the couch or eat a cleaner diet. It’s encouraging to follow others’ journeys and to know that a six-pack is possible after babies. Or that there are people out there rejecting processed foods and losing hundreds of pounds as a result. Many of my close friends follow (or post as) fitness fanatics via social media.

But for me, social media can be dangerous because it feeds my desire to self-promote. This is my own conviction. It shouldn’t necessarily be yours. I get addicted to your “likes,” enticed by your compliments and encouraged by your following. If I’m not careful, my workout becomes about you and not about my health. I run so I can take a picture of the impressive distance on my watch, not so I can keep my heart healthy, declutter my mind, or pray.

Last Tuesday, I fell victim myself. The weather was nice and several clients were on Spring Break so I got to go on a long road ride. All alone. It was heavenly. At the end of the ride, I took an exhausted picture of my helmeted self (actually I took three and looked like a 12 yr old boy in all of them), then checked Map My Ride so I could boast about my stats online, but the app was blank. I must not have “started the workout.” Distance: 0:00. Average MPH: 0. Bragging Rights: 0. I smirked. It would be just like God to teach me a lesson in this way.

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Is it possible to blend fitness and social media (particularly photos) in a manner that glorifies God and not me? Probably. I just haven’t figured it out yet. I guess a lot of it depends on my motives–and a purpose beyond my own love for affirmation.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

I’m passionate about my physical health–and yours. But as a Christian, I’m acutely aware that my spiritual health (and yours) is so much more important. More valuable. And I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of spiritual training two-a-days.

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8 thoughts on “Tips for 2015: Fitness and Social Media

  1. Oh, I love this post. I wish you could be my trainer! I followed some advice from you on a fitness post several months ago and have gotten stronger and am seeing slow but steady changes. Thank you! You should certainly pursue the virtual training. I don’t know you, so my impressions are limited to your blog (which I love), but your fitness posts only inspired me. But I understand your words completely. I love to make things, and I feel like it’s an artist’s nature to want to share and receive glowing feedback. It IS addicting. I also overshare pictures of my babies. They’re my pride and joy, and I hide behind the “I just post to keep in touch with family,” but honestly, I love to hear that other people think they’re perfect too. I’ve been convicted many times about that desire for validation or sometimes just plain connection. So I’m working on (again, slow but steady) filling that need with Christ and boasting only in the cross.

    • I’m so glad to hear you’re getting stronger and fitter, Misti! Thanks for following our journey. I do the same thing with my kids…love to put them on display because I’m so proud of them! That’s the nature of the social media beast. 😉

  2. Just recently i searched for you on instagram, i wanted to see if you had any tips for training, i am desperate to lose 10kgs and i can trust you. But i totally understand your decision. Hugs and love for the Lord’s sake.

  3. I have been following your blog for about 3 years (I Googled Finn Joseph since we were naming our son that too) and I have rarely commented on your posts. But when I read this on yesterday it hit me very personally. I have battled with weight and exercise since my teen years and now that 40 is only a couple years off it’s getting harder, oh and having a toddler and working 4, 10 hour days doesn’t help either. So my point being the people I see on my social media accounts that only post sporadically about accomplishments I feel are more beneficial than the people who post at least once or more a day about their work out or race they just completed. Those people’s posts honestly make me feel worse about myself and jealousy sneaks in.

      • I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. I wondered if you had any quick thoughts about weight loss. I gained 35 pounds post childbirth, which was six years ago! Anyway, I lost 17 pounds and my weight would not budge. I decided to vary more and ramp up my workout, which includes weights. For the past month I have lost nothing and I do need to lose more weight. I am very careful with what I eat and keep track of calorie intake on My Fitness Pal. I’m feeling so frustrated! I’m not sure what else to do.

      • Hi! Thanks for following! It sounds like you’re on the right track. My tips would be 1) add variety…do something completely different to shock your body (kickboxing, swimming, running, spin class, weight lifting only, etc) 2) add intensity (sweat a lot, be sure you’re uncomfortable, hire a trainer to push you) 3) remove dairy, processed foods, desserts, and alcohol from your diet for a month 4) sleep better/more. It sounds like you’re already doing some of these things. Hope your body will budge and something will help. Sometimes thinking about it less helps too. We get obsessed, then we stress, cortisol levels increase and so does the fat in our body. Let me know how it goes!

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