March Wellness Challenge: Follow people on social media who make you feel good. And UNFOLLOW those who don’t.
I live in the fitness world so, for me, it takes a lot of intention to identify the “fitfluencers” I want to follow. I try to ask myself a few questions. These questions are asked with a fitness filter but could be asked about anyone you follow – bloggers, friends, celebrities, etc.
1). Do I receive something of value from this person/brand? For me, that value is often in the form of exercise suggestions. I love getting inspired by new moves to incorporate into my classes. A few of my favorite people include: KaisaFit, MsJeanetteJenkins, and KiraStokesFit. Value for me also includes suggestions on overall wellness and how to fit healthy food and exercise into your life (e.g., easy ways to sneak vegetables into meals for kids, or how to stay active and move during the day even if you don’t have time to hit the gym). JennMarascoWellness – a mom of four and wellness coach – does an awesome job of this on her site and social channels. Looking through a non-fitness lens, value could be the person/brand makes you laugh, motivates or inspires you, opens your world to new travel/vacation spots, helps you feel less alone in the world of motherhood, etc. The most important thing is you feel like you receive something rather than something being sucked from you.
2). Does this person’s values align with my values? I’m not talking about religion or politics here — I actually think it’s important to hear differing opinions when it comes to those topics — but rather does the Instagrammer work out to be healthy and strong or get a bikini body and get rid of their muffin top? Which message do they communicate to their followers? I’m trying to change my focus to the first part – health and strength – rather than solely the aesthetics. So, for me, it’s not helpful to hear nonstop talk of spring break and summer bodies or how to lose stubborn back fat. If their Instagram account is a montage of their six pack, their Kim Kardashian butt, and the perfect hair and makeup they have while working out, they’re probably not a good person for me to follow. Those pictures don’t make me feel good about myself AND they shift my focus to how I look instead of how I feel and what I’m able to do with my healthy body.
I realize I’m responsible for my thoughts and feelings. I’m not looking to place blame on others but rather explain how I’ve acknowledged personal insecurities and identified things that fuel those insecurities. In a recent training I attended, the speaker said, “What you give energy to, you give life to.” I don’t want to give life to my insecurities. Instagram doesn’t require energy, though. It’s just scrolling, right? Ehh, I think it can take or give more energy than we realize. The next time your thumb stops scrolling, ask yourself how you feel.
What’s incredibly concerning is there are studies that show social media negatively impacts kids’ body image. The Royal Society of Public Health conducted a study of 1,500 young people aged 11-25. According to a BBC article about the study, “Seven in 10 [respondents] said Instagram made them feel worse about body image and half of 14-24-year-olds reported Instagram and Facebook exacerbated feelings of anxiety.”
As adults, we have a responsibility to CHOOSE what images and messages with which we surround ourselves and then help teach kids how to surround themselves with positive influences. Yes, glamorized, sexualized and perfect body images are ubiquitous in society and a lot of them are unavoidable – e.g., billboards, magazine covers in airport gift shop, etc. – but we do have some power and control when we CHOOSE who to follow on social media and when we choose what to read or watch.
So choose carefully. Your energy and your head space are valuable. Don’t just let anyone access them freely.