Online Motivation

Last week I decided to take the Tone It Up (TIU) challenge of 150 miles by Summer. TIU’s unique approach (which I love and appreciate so much) is that the mileage is not just calculated by running miles alone. Instead, the challenge honors 10 minutes of heart-thumping cardio exercise as 1 mile. For a Zumba junkie like me, this is awesome! My habitual two weekly classes of Zumba alone equates to 12 miles per week, so if I do nothing else but those two Zumba classes now through June 21st, I will rack up 96 miles! And you know I’m going to get some real running mileage in as well as some other classes, so this is a totally doable—yet still motivating!—challenge. In addition, there’s a plethora of other inspiring women taking this challenge and posting their cardio workouts and mileage progress on Instagram under the hashtag #100bySummer or #150bySummer. Rock on!

In recent years, social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest, have made healthy eating and fitness seem like an obtainable lifestyle. Instead of celebrity spokeswomen there are normal, everyday people posting motivational quotes, workouts, Point values, and recipes to the masses straight from their smartphones. With this transparency though comes a lot criticism and public scrutiny.  There’s always jokes about how no one cares what you’re eating, and that the selfie movement is full of narcissistic duckfaces trying to be models. Sure there are some whose intentions are certainly that, but as for the awesome people I follow on Instagram, they are creating an inspiring photo journal of their journey to a better life. What’s more motivational than that? 

When I set out to start my blog, I made the very specific promise to myself that I would only ever write to one reader: me. If no one reads my blog, awesome—at its core, serves as a super easy online cookbook for me to pull up my favorite recipes on my iPad when it’s time to start cooking dinner. But if I inspire just ONE person to eat cleaner and workout, then I accomplished all my goals. With just one person my blog is not in vain, and it has been completely worth my while.

It’s easy to be brought down by the haters who shun the post-workout selfies and photos of your #eatclean dinner, but I feel “checking in” with photo proof of your day’s food choices and posting progress pics creates positive peer pressure and accountability. We all can use that! There is an obesity epidemic in the United States so we should be raising up those who are refusing to fall for the marketing ploys of big food companies. I feel like communities like Tone It Up do this, but for your average person who doesn’t know these types of communities exist, it’s creating the message that caring about your body, your health, and your future isn’t necessary. And that’s so far from the truth!

In the past week, I have designated my long existing @meroram Instagram account to be strictly personal, and have created a new account, @Belowthefork, to be the dedicated extension of my blog. I wish I had done this a long time ago as I feel relieved that I now have shed the unnecessary guilt that I was alienating my real-life friends with my health-nut photos, and alienating my health-nut followers with photos of my babies. (Really I shouldn’t care what others think. This is a weakness of mine that I’m not proud of and have been working on FOR YEARS. I shouldn’t care what others think of my eating habits, my fitness aspirations, my family, my finances, my Christian faith, etcetera, but there are so many times—too many times—that I do…I digress.) My long-winded point is, use tools like Instagram to your advantage. Make important-for-a-second photos your accountability. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to dive into a bag of chips and I think of what a hypocrite I’ll be to my blog readers (or just one reader?) that I ultimately make the good decision not to. I am very aware the likelihood of no one giving a rat’s tail is so off the charts, but I don’t care. This sort of thinking is my motivation. This is what keeps me on track.

What’s your motivation? Do you agree that a positive online community can get you to your goals? Tell me in the comment section below!



Meridith Oram
Meridith Oram is an ACE-Certified Health Coach at Love Yourself Towards Healthy where she helps chronic dieters heal their relationship with food, fitness and body image. She is also the creator of Gain Wellness, a 5-week behavioral change program to unlearn diet culture, stop negative self-talk and set wellness goals---not appearance goals. Follow Meridith at @loveyourself2healthy on all social channels.

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