Social media is the MASTER of lying to you without technically lying to you. Every single day we’re inundated with posts intended to make us believe a certain reality, without giving proper CONTEXT. And one of the biggest areas this is most harmful is when it comes to expectations around weight loss and achieving fitness goals. So in this blog we’re diving into why these false expectations are harmful and some things to keep in mind when you’re scrolling through social media!
If you’d rather watch/listen, catch my Instagram live on this very topic here.
If you want to read this… well, you’re in the right place!
Context is Everything
Taking it back to quarantine days, I was first prompted to talk about this topic of false expectations online after sharing one of my own transformation posts. I decided to do a cut that lasted four months. I took a photo at the beginning of the cut, as well as at the end. So technically, I didn’t lie that these two pictures were four months apart. But, the issue was that without context, it could be misleading. If someone who’s never worked out a day in their life were to come across that post and think “I kind of look like the before photo…” they could also easily think “in four months I can look like the after photo?! DONE.
Without context, a post like this can create an expectation that within just four months you can look like the person you saw on Instagram. But WITH context, you’ll see my very first (and I mean verrry first) progress photo from TEN years ago, in which I was too embarrassed to show my face so I CROPPED IT. And while no, it doesn’t take ten years to transform your body and life, there was still a lot of consistent training, nutrition, hydration, and ALL the things that got me to where I am now. It took much more than four months of consistency to see these kinds of results. You can’t go from never exercising to looking like a certified “fitness model” overnight because all you saw was one photo on social media with zero context. But unfortunately, that’s what’s happening to people on a regular basis.
There’s an expectation that these before and after photos should be YOUR standard of progress, and that if you don’t achieve the results (not because of anything you’re doing wrong but because they’re simply unrealistic for YOU), then somehow you failed. When in reality, you might actually be on the RIGHT track to get you where you want to be… you just need a little more time.
What about when nothing works for me?
The false expectations from social media are oftentimes what cause people to believe that “nothing works for me”. And maybe that’s how you feel too. Maybe you’ve tried the weight loss programs and the diet shakes and the intermittent fasting… the list goes on and on and on. But nothing really ever got you the results you wanted. The problem is that as a culture we’ve become so caught up in the “I want results and I want them NOW” mindset that there are SO many programs out there setting you up for failure. And a little tough love? If we’re honest, sometimes the issue is that WE don’t ever see things through. We don’t give ourselves the chance to truly see what we’re capable of. We’re too focused on getting the results as fast as possible like that one chick we saw on Instagram.
Let’s talk about a real life example of false expectations…
If I told you about one of my clients who lost twenty pounds while working with me you’d be like “hell yeah! Tell more more.” BUT – as soon as I mention that it took a FULL YEAR to get there, that “hell yeah” would quickly turn into a “hell no!” You’d be thinking “that’s way too long! I want to lose twenty pounds in three or four months, TOPS.” And of course you’re thinking that, I would too! But what’s missing for this is the context.
In this client’s case, we were able to help her lose fifteen pounds in just over twenty weeks. But then? Life got busy, she was losing some of her initial vigor, and was feeling a bit more lackadaisical. (That’s not wrong, it’s NORMAL). So we decided to take an intentional three-month break staying in a maintenance mode before getting into another cut. Then we easily got the last five pounds down (and seven inches off her waist – say whaaat?!) once we started that cut!
So yes, it took her a full year to get there, but who really cares?! This pace is what she needed to lose the weight and KEEP it off. The goal is to be realistic and sustainable in a weight loss approach and that may look different for each individual but one thing that IS for certain… it’s NOT a quick fix like social media false expectations often lead us to believe.
Applying this to Your Weight Loss Journey
While it’s important to have goals you’re working towards, it’s equally as important to be realistic about how you’re going to get there. As long as you’re moving the needle forward, that’s what matters. So what if it takes you an extra three weeks to lose the extra pound – who gives a shit? The important thing is that you didn’t STOP and back track.
But sadly, there are people on social media implying (and worse, promising) extraordinary results for fast and cheap. These false expectations leads many people to find themselves defeated and back at square one. So as you’re scrolling through social media, try to be mindful about the context of the posts you’re looking at. If you need to, unfollow people that make you feel pressured or stressed out about YOUR own journey.
And on the flip side, remember that social media can also be a great place to be inspired and see what you’re capable of. It’s just important that you don’t let unrealistic expectations stop you from moving in the right direction. When we fall into the mindset that things HAVE to happen in a certain amount of time, we set ourselves up for disappointment in the long run. I won’t sugar coat it… this will take work. It will mean stepping up and sticking to something for more than four months. Trust me, if I can do it – anybody can totally do this! But it won’t be overnight, it won’t be easy, and it won’t be without sacrifices… but it will be sustainable and better than you think.
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