Social Media And Weight Loss: The Skinny Line Between Benefits And Harm
Social media is a platform where we share our lives with the world. And for many, this includes sharing their weight loss and fitness journey. Searching for hashtags like #fitspiration or #weightloss and countless posts and accounts come up. Following those passionate about fitness often includes Transformation Tuesday posts with before and after. Social media is a great tool for those looking for motivation and accountability to lose weight.
But there is a fine—or should we say skinny— line between the positive and negative influences of social media.
Social Media And Weight Loss Benefits: Inspiration, Motivation, Accountability
Following weight loss journeys on social media can serve as a form of inspiration. People see that they too can reach success. These stories often include people who lost over 100 lbs., those bouncing back after a baby, or getting healthy after an injury. And these are everyday people sharing their struggles, their journey and triumph to where they are now. These are real people. This makes them relatable.
Many have their own blogs or comment back to their followers. Joining Facebook groups is another outlet that can be positive since there is more a conversation. This means more advice, tips, and tricks to be able to achieve weight loss. Social media makes it so we aren’t in it alone.
“Social media allows people to connect with like-minded others for support and camaraderie,” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told RunnerClick. “It provides access to information and tools.”
Social media also is a way to hold oneself accountable. Challenges like #streakingwiththecoolkids help push people to run or walk at least a mile each day.
And sharing a person’s own story can be empowering and help them stay on track. This allows them to see their own progress over time, stick to their workouts and diet, as well as boost their confidence when they get their own group of followers.
According to a study published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing, those who shared their weight loss journeys on social media were more committed to reaching their ideal weight.
“The social environment, however, can attract both supporters and haters,” Rutledge said. “Learn to use the delete and block button for anyone not being supportive of your goals.”
Social Media And Weight Loss Harms: Psychological And Physical Effects
There also is a dark cloud over social media and its influence on people. We live in a society where we are constantly comparing ourselves to celebrities and models we see in the media. And if the pressure to look a certain way wasn’t enough, social media heightens the comparisons since we now see everyday people and how amazing they look.
There is also the rise of Instagram models. They flaunt their seemingly perfect bodies in Kim Kardashian fashion with the curves in all the right places—and don’t forget those rock hard abs.
“Social comparison is a normal response; however, relying too much on others to establish what’s good or normal rather than relying on your own strengths and experience can lead people to let others dictate what’s right for them,” Rutledge said.
This includes picking up a new flat tummy tea or waist trainer as a quick fix because fitness-related Instagram accounts recommend them. Remember that some influencers are paid to post, and not every product out there works or is healthy and safe.
Also keep in mind that filters, editing apps to nip and tuck and smooth the face create perfect pictures. Instagram life and real life tend to differ.
While seeing fitness related posts can be motivating, it can also make us be hard on ourselves for not looking a particular way. This can promote “thinspiration,” trigger unhealthy eating habits and lead to eating disorders.
Posting progress a picture is helpful for some, the documentation of weight loss can backfire when it comes to ready negative comments. Think about why the user wants to document and don’t let the haters get you down.
Tips To A Healthy Social Media
Follow lots of fitness and health-related accounts. This can help find a new healthy recipe that looks good and is easy to make. It can showcase a new exercise or home workout to try.
Connect with a community that gives positive vibes only.
“Use a ‘mindfulness social media’ approach,” Rutledge said. “Just like eating during dieting, where you are to pay attention to what you eat and why, social media is another kind of fuel—social fuel. It can make us feel good and bad. Be aware of why you are posting or scrolling and what you want to accomplish. Be willing to disengage if you recognize you are not achieving your purpose in using it (feeling unsuccessful rather than entertained or supported).”
Don’t forget that you are in control of your weight loss journey!
- Social Media Can Help Boost Weight Loss Success, Health Website, Nov 03, 2017 ,
- Has Instagram Made Dieting More Dangerous?, Health Wesbite, May 20, 2014 ,
- Why posting weight loss selfies can do more harm than good, Health Blog, Mar 09, 2016 ,