Courted by sportswear, food and supplement brands, wellness bloggers have become social media stars. On the cover of cookbooks, in big-budget ad campaigns and tweeting, instagramming and posting prodigiously throughout, the likes of Deliciously Ella and Jen Selter have become household names.
Scrolling through rock-hard six-packs can make you feel like diving into the nearest tub of Haagen-Dazs
But is following this glossy gang a help or hindrance to your health? Sure, they share awesome ab workouts. But what about the times when scrolling through rock-hard six-packs and artfully styled green juice makes you feel like giving up and diving into the nearest tub of Haagen-Dazs?
Fitspo, my friends, doesn’t have to be this way. Follow the right people on social media, for the right reasons, and you’ll find yourself motivated and armed with practical tips.
Here's your smarter social media checklist…
1. Find your Twitter tribe
By sport, by diet, by where you live – or your sense of humour. On a good day, Twitter is like if self-help book The Secret actually worked. You put requests out there (“what’s a good cycle route from London to Brighton?" “Does anyone have any good quinoa recipes?") and get awesomeness back.
Social media has introduced me to so many like-minded fitness keenos
Even if you don’t have time to join a club in real life, search for local sports clubs’ twitter accounts, start jumping into conversations and before you know it, you’ll find your gang.
Fitness fan Cathy Drew says, “Social media has introduced me to so many like-minded fitness keenos. Social media for me is about connecting with a community of people who have sport as their number one hobby. And it is still just a hobby at the end of the day, there's a lot more to life."
2. Focus on community
There are plenty of megastar bloggers out there, but rather than just soaking up their posts, switch your antenna to ‘transmit’ and start talking honestly with ordinary fitness-mad folk too. You’ll soon start sharing the bad days as well as the selfie-sational moments – and this realistic take on life is much less likely to make you feel insecure.
3. Be socially accountable
Just try getting out of a training session after you’ve tweeted your plans. “I tried to put off my run the other day, then tweeted about it, and was nudged to get it done", says fitness blogger Charlie Watson aka The Runner Beans.
4. Soak up the support
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or training for an Ironman, your journey will have as many ups and downs as the Lake District. Reach out on social media and you’ll find the best kind of reassurance – from people who actually get what you’re going through and can offer practical help. Because your mum’s lovely, but chances are she doesn’t know how it feels to bonk on a 50-mile club ride and get dropped from the group.
5. Get inspired
Connect with people who live lives that inspire you and you’ll find yourself following that path
What makes bloggers brilliant (before they get an agent and a TV deal, that is) is that they show the amazing things ordinary people with full-time jobs can achieve. Ironman triathlete Nick Palmer says, “Connect with people who live lives that inspire you and you’ll find yourself following that path. My friend Susie went from big nights out to Ultra marathons. You see someone else doing it and think ‘I can do that, too’."
6. Be in the know
With the sole exception of rumours at a girls’ school, nothing travels faster than cool stuff on social media. Whether it’s a free rooftop yoga class, an amazing competition or the latest Nike Tight of the Moment, you’ll find the intel on Twitter and Instagram. Follow your favourite brands and bloggers for a peek into the latest studio openings and kit launches.
And here are 4 posts to take with a pinch of salt…
1. Showboating selfies
Focus on the practical tips, not how the person dishing them out looks. Everyone’s starting point is different, everyone’s body is different, everyone’s life is different. Even if you do exactly the same things as another person, you won’t get the same results. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have instagrammable abs.
2. That new miracle superfood
Broccoli is still full of iron, even if everyone’s raving about kale chips
Fitness and nutrition companies need to sell stuff. Magazines and fitness bloggers need to fill their pages. Broccoli is still full of iron, even if everyone’s raving about kale chips. Remember: if it ain’t broke…
Even if it seems like life is all protein shakes and roses, no-one can be on social media 24 hours a day. And chances are, when things aren’t so rosy they don’t make it to your news feed. Think of all the selfies that didn’t make the cut - and don’t compare your ‘insides’ to everyone else’s ‘outsides’.
4. The magic - oh, and restrictive - diet plan
Like a line-up of sleazy men, healthy diets all claim to be The One. But often, they don’t come dietitian-approved, they cut out whole food groups or just plain contradict each other. #Alkaline or #paleo, #low-sugar or #vegan? How about: a bit of all of them, and then a bit of chocolate for afters?