Most bloggers are not health experts. 99.9% are not celebrities.
The are ordinary people presenting their lives in a carefully curated way. Everything you have ever seen about me I have selected to share with you. That means I'm picking and choosing how I want to be portrayed, what I want people to think of me, and usually omitting the less than flattering photos of me sans make-up in stained pj's binge watching netflix for 10 hours on a Sunday while eating an entire bag of chips. I try to show a realistic version of myself but I think it's human nature to want others to see the best parts of you.
It disturbs me to come across bloggers who are portraying themselves to be pinnacles of healthy living but are clearly underweight, exercising obsessively and exhibit restrictive eating patterns. Obviously what they are showing online and what they are actually doing in real life are two very different things and I shouldn't be making any judgement against them without knowing the whole story. The problem is when you put your life online you are opening it up for others to analyze. I take the same risk when I share parts of myself with the internets and I take full responsibility for that. My concern is that girls/women are reading healthy living bloggers and may try to mimic their lifestyles in an attempt to achieve their health or fitness goals. I'm all for using bloggers to help motivate and inspire you to be the best that you can be, but I think it's important to remember a few key things.
1. Don't compare your beginning to their end. I've been exercising regularly for 5 years now. When I first got started it was with Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and I couldn't even complete all the moves in level 1 and I would be sore for days after. Now, I could do all 3 levels in a row and probably have minimal soreness the next day. It's taken me years of working out to get where I'm at now.
Also, I just started running 2 years ago and found this old blog entry talking about working toward my first 5k.
Our goal for the month of July was to completed a 5k in 38 minutes. Sunday we completed 4.5 miles in 55 minutes putting us at a 12:14 minute mile pace. That would put us at our goal of 38 minutes already! We have worked up to running for about a minute then resting for 30 seconds on and off until we’ve completed the distance (typically 3-4 miles). We run 2-3 times a week and have been working on this for about 2 months now.
Less than two years ago I was only able to run for a minute at a time before resting and now I'm working on marathon number 2. We all start somewhere. Look how excited I was two months after that blog entry when I finally finished a 5k in 37 minutes!
I still struggle with comparing myself to more advanced athletes. One of my absolute favorites is Nadia Ruiz. This girl is 29, she's done over 100 marathons, 3 ironmans, countless other races, and she works full time as a teacher. She'll run 10 miles before class, swim 2000 meters on her lunch break, and go to the stairmaster for an HOUR at night (I just made up those numbers but they are not atypical for her!) I love following her on facebook and instagram but sometimes I'll catch myself looking at her workout summaries for the day and thinking "Man, I'm such a lazy asshole for just running 5 miles today. I could have done more!" I have to remind myself that she has been running marathons since she was in high school, so she's got 15 years of training behind her.
2. You are only seeing parts of their diet. When I share photos of my meals I try to show a balanced representation of what I actually eat. Sometimes it's a super healthy salad and sometimes it's a bag of chips and some ice cream for dinner. Even then I never show every single thing I eat because that would be just weird and really annoying. On the rare days I show what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I still don't usually show all the other stuff I end up snacking on throughout the day. So what you're seeing me eat is maybe 1400-1500 calories but what I actually eat is 2000+.
I came across this article and it highlights some of the ... discrepancies between what bloggers show for their meals and what they actually eat. I don't follow the bloggers they talk about but I have seen this exact behavior in person when I attended Fitbloggin last year.
Despite training for a December marathon, she ditched her breakfast dish—piled with fruit, bagel thins, and fat-free yogurt—after a few bites. Later, she posted a picture of her full plate online, raving about the "amazing" food.
You see these full plates of food on someones instagram and don't even pause to think they may only be eating a small portion of it. Which brings us to my last point:
3. Bloggers lie (or, 'omit the truth.') Whether they are lying to themselves or purposefully lying to their readers I don't know. I try to be as transparent as possible about things I may be struggling with emotionally or physically but that's not always the case with other bloggers, or even with myself. You can look at a bloggers life as it is portrayed online and think it looks 'perfect' only to find out; their marriage is falling apart, they compulsively exercise hours a day, they have an eating disorder they are trying to hide, or maybe they are dealing with infertility or other health issues their doctors have linked directly to their diet/exercise. I know different bloggers who can fall into each of those categories. Scary. Most of the time they don't disclose this information because they prefer to deal with it privately and I 100% respect that. It's just important to remember you never know the whole story.
Do you think we should try to portray ourselves realistically, or is social media inherently made for sharing the best of ourselves and our lives with others?