During my weekly Q&A on Instagram, I was asked for my favorite fitness bloggers. I answered honestly: I don’t follow any. It’s not that I think fitness isn’t worth following (I love working out!) or that some people don’t do a tasteful job of sharing (they do!). I simply have discovered, over my journey through years, that following fitness bloggers isn’t good for my spirit.
For a while I thought I was just being overly sensitive. Isn’t a good fitness account motivating? But for me, the motivation quickly wore off into obsession. I wanted to look just like the blogger or coach… in a lot less time. And when my work-outs weren’t gaining the results I wanted, as fast as I wanted, I became increasingly frustrated and discontent.
You might not need to limit your exposure to fitness accounts like I do, but are you trapped in a cycle of comparison and discontent over your body? It’s tough to stay on track in this world of PhotoShop and Instagram. We know that PhotoShop alters reality; we can say that to ourselves as the magazine covers leer at us in the grocery aisle. But what about Instagram? Those girls are real… at least we believe they are. No matter how many selfies were taken before that perfect angle and light, all we see is the finished product.
It’s all we see, and it’s our benchmark.
Shut Off Comparison
I first got into fitness in college and then REALLY got into it after my first child. I was the fittest I’ve ever been six months postpartum. The problem? It wasn’t good enough. As life moved us and I had another baby, my body changed again. My time was more constrained. And while I take care of my diet and move my body almost daily, that voice in my head is still speaking: That’s not enough.
I realized that like it or not, I was in the comparison trap. So it wasn’t that long ago that I unfollowed all my favorite fitness accounts. At no fault of the bloggers I followed, I was comparing my body – my unique, carefully designed body that had borne two babies and battled an autoimmune disease – with theirs. I wanted to customize myself to mimic what I saw online, and it was making me desperate, urgent, and unhealthy. So I shut it off: All of it.
Maybe that’s what you need to do.
Recognize What Your Body Can Do
One of the steps to freedom in my own body journey was to recognize what my body CAN do – not just look at what it cannot. At the beginning, that may have been ten push ups. Or forty squats. Or how I could saddle ten horses in under three minutes (that’s one you don’t hear every day!). Or the two babies I brought into the world! Those are pretty impressive things for a body – even if that body doesn’t have a six pack.
Think about what your body can do. Maybe it can run five miles. Maybe it can type beautiful words. Maybe it can sing with clarity and perfect pitch. Your body has something to offer this world, and it’s so much more than what it looks like on the outside!
Remember What Your Body is For
It’s important to add that even if your body can’t DO anything, it still has value – because its purpose is bigger than what it looks like and what it produces. I have a painful autoimmune disease that attacks my face, hands, eyes and mouth. When in a flare up, I am in so much pain it’s hard for me to DO anything. I certainly don’t look beautiful. What good is my body then? According to PhotoShop I should be edited. According to Instagram, I shouldn’t be posted.
In those moments I remember what purpose my body serves: To glorify my Father in heaven, the one in whose image I am made (Genesis 1:27). My body has a glorious purpose, and when I walk with Him, that purpose is realized… even if I can’t accomplish what I wish, or look the way I hope. As I press into Him, I become more at peace with my body and its purpose.
My encouragement to you, dear girl: Get away from Instagram. Create space where comparison grows. Celebrate what your body can already do, and if it can’t do much right now, celebrate who you are in Christ. At the end of the day, that’s what matters most.