‘Comparison is the thief of Joy’, don’t let social media consume you

In today’s world, social media is one of the fastest ways of providing news and information to people around the globe. An analysis carried out by Statista in September 2017 revealed that Facebook has almost 2.06 billion monthly active users, Instagram has 700 million and Twitter has approximately 328 million active users each month.

Social media has most definitely had a positive influence on performance, health and fitness and we should be grateful to have access to so much information at the click of a button. Pictures, blogs and vlogs fill up our news feeds daily and it seems that everywhere we look we are reminded of how to live a healthy, more balanced lifestyle in order to perform at our best.

It goes without saying that body image and healthy eating go hand in hand. We eat well to feel good on the inside but to also look good on the outside. It’s all about being the best version of yourself possible and social media is a platform used by numerous well experienced fitness industry professionals to transform people’s lives. At CoachPACT.com we use social media to share information with our clients and followers and upload informative posts about how we can help you master your health and performance.

Transformation pictures along with dozens of other fitness and health pictures on social media have a visual impact on us pretty much every time we open a social app. This impact has both positive and negative attributes. The visual content presented to us motivates us to live a healthy lifestyle and is used as marketing to promote business for personal trainers, coaches and fitness facilities. Pictures and videos showcase how it is possible for anyone to transform what they look like and they allow people to relate to those they see on the screen in front of their eye’s. However, in an instance, after seeing a picture on social media, negative individual comparison has a tendency to take over. You might see an amazing transformation picture or an image of someone finishing first in a race and find yourself saying things like “Why can’t I be like that person? I want to be as successful as him/her. I don’t look like that after 6 weeks and I’ve been working so hard.” Although no one wants to admit it and we know we shouldn’t, we are all guilty of comparing ourselves whether in a positive or negative way, to the people we see on social media.

What we all know but tend to forget is the majority of the pictures we see have been tweaked. All filters aside, it’s amazing what good lighting, good posture, and some contouring can do. After just minutes you can transform how people perceive your body image. Add a good filter to your picture and you could be on the next cover of Sports Illustrated!

In 2016 the #30secondtransformation started trending on Instagram thanks to Jessica Pack from Orlando. She has been sharing her fitness journey on her Instagram @plankingforpizza and decided to prove to people that a lot of the transformation pictures out there are fake.

The “transformation” picture on the right was taken just 30 seconds after the before picture (left). These pictures showcase just how misleading pictures on social media can be. You can see she has altered her stance, making her thighs appear slimmer, pulled up her bikini bottoms, giving her a flatter tummy, put her shoulders back and flexed her abs, making her look leaner and more confident. Read her full post here.

Have we all been consumed by social media? Are we forever going to make individual comparisons to what we see through filters and editing? How real are all of those health and fitness pictures we find ourselves glaring at on a daily basis; the transformation pictures, the bikini model pictures, the bodybuilder pictures, the “clean eating” pictures, the ultra marathon runner pictures etc. etc..

Instagram is probably my favourite social media app. I love pictures, fitness, food and fashion and I think it’s great that we can showcase our interests on our pages. I do wonder where we draw the line. A recent study led by Dr. Tara Marshall at Brunel University, found that out of 555 subjects those who regularly post statuses about fitness on Facebook have narcissistic personalities craving “likes” and attention. I find this a bit harsh but I have to agree to a certain extent. Is there a need to put pictures of your abs on your page after every HIIT session? Do you really have to remind us every Wednesday that you smashed yet another killer leg session? Do you have to share a picture of every “clean” meal you eat with us all? I’m sure you will find a few pointless fitness or food pictures on my social media pages and I do love the fact that so many people are dedicated to their training and healthy eating regime but is everyone else not getting sick of the endless amount of fitness and food hashtags out there? Maybe we all need to reign it in a bit.

‘Comparison is the thief of joy’ (Theodore Roosevelt). Until social media takes a turn in another direction we need to stop comparing ourselves to what we see through the screens on our phones, enjoy the pictures that do fill up our news feeds and embrace this 2-D world without letting it annoy us. No amount of Instagram or Facebook likes are going to determine the success of your journey to performing at your best in all areas of life. Do it for yourself and by all means share your journey and find motivation on social media but make sure you don’t let it consume you.