For the past week I have been following and getting involved in a little motivating moment of mindfulness via the wonders of social media. And it really got me thinking about the power of social networks in keeping people focused and on track when trying to lead healthy lifestyles.
Hannah Mills, or @wedgesandweights as I know her on Twitter, started a week long #WWPhotoFood challenge on Instagram. The idea was that for one week, you posted pictures of what you ate on a daily basis. So you took a photo of EVERY little morsel that passed your lips. Now to a nosey foodie like myself, this was heaven. I LOVE seeing what other people actually eat. And, to really get in the spirit of things, I thought it was only fair that I shared my food diaries too. Now, I confess, I didn’t do the full week. I came to the challenge late, and had a weekend celebrating my OH’s birthday, so got swept away in the weekend (and was purposefully leaving the phone in the hotel room so we HAD TO TALK TO EACH OTHER… Scary stuff, I know!) But despite that, I found that it still had a great effect. It really made me contemplate every mouthful. Did I really want to take a photo of that… (insert random snacky item here)? And I had already submitted my photos for the day, so I didn’t really need that handful of raisins or that mini chocolate bar, did I? And, jeez, I really do mindlessly pick at bits while I’m prepping dinner or my lunch for the next day… tut, tut Bella! Being consciously more mindful was an eye opener!
Despite the fact that I’m pretty sure that some of my real life friends on Instagram started groaning out loud every time they saw ANOTHER post about the food I put in my mouth, this little experiment really made me think.
I’ve just finished the first module of my nutritional adviser course on the psychology behind motivation and weight loss. So I had a particular interest on the benefit of social media in helping maintain and sustain a healthy lifestyle. People who are trying to make the change to a healthier lifestyle will pass through different psychological stages of change. And even the healthiest of healthy souls will be at risk of relapsing back to the early stages or even failure at some point of their lives. This is where having a toolkit or coping strategy to rely on can make the difference between ‘Bye bye healthy ways’ and ‘whoops, I’ve slipped up, back on it now girl…’ And this is where I think social media, and little challenges like #WWphotofood, online ‘twitter teams’ like #FitTeam14 or #FitFam, or ‘fitspo’ (fit inspiration) accounts on Instagram or Facebook can really help. If you surround yourself with healthy and positive inspiration, it’s more likely to rub off on you, right?
Of course, just following these accounts isn’t enough… At some stage you need to actually get off your ass and do something about it. But for some reason that feels easier when you know that there is an army of other people also spending Sunday cooking up healthy delights in the the kitchen. Or that there are other people dragging their heels about heading out into the rain for a run. More often than not, these people will take time out to cheer you on, give you a virtual pat on the back and (and I’ve actually had this) a ‘COMEONGIRLGETOFFYOURASSANDDOTHIS!!!’ (It worked).
Now obviously if you’re getting this kind of support from your real life friends too, then you’re onto a winner. I have a supportive man in my life (supportive in nature, but draws the line at swapping his real chocolate mousse for one made with avocado instead…), I come from a fit and healthy family and have recently met a great group of people through my bootcamp training sessions. But given that we spend SO much time buried in social media, it’s nice to know I have my social kick up the butt and inspiration when I need it too!
Do you use social media to give you a boost when you’re flagging? As inspiration on what to cook for a healthy dinner? Or as your very own Mr Motivator to get you off the couch? I’d love to hear what your coping strategy is and how you find inspiration to get you through the moments that matter…