The Fitspo World: Inspiration or Illusion?

Of all the social media platforms out there, Instagram is my favorite and most-used one. I love it for its simplicity and openness. I go on it several times a day, liking and commenting as I scroll through my feed on both my personal and fitness accounts (@annadubz and @willrunformatcha, respectively).

I’ve had my @willrunformatcha account for about a year now. I first started it because I began posting more food/running related photos on my personal account and I wanted to create a separate account for an audience who was deliberately seeking out that sort of content.

Recently, I’ve been increasingly active on this account and it’s become a little bit of an obsession. It’s reached a point where I think it’s important that I take a step back and evaluate a couple of things. One, is it a good or bad thing that I’m so active on Instagram? And two, why am I so into it lately?

When I first started the account, I wasn’t really concerned about growing it. I just thought of it as a fun little side account to post on every few days. It was great being part of a new community, and having fellow runners and vegans supporting my lifestyle. It was different from my personal account– these were complete strangers who I most likely would never meet, and thought my posts were cool enough to double tap them. It was nice.

However, I didn’t begin to seriously commit to the account until a few months ago. I noticed when I didn’t post at least once a day, I would lose followers. It was confusing to me– are these Instagrammers cleaning out their ‘following’ list everyday, and if they see an account they don’t recognize, they unfollow it? It was mind boggling to me (and still is).

However, I wanted to keep my account alive and relevant so I decided to try to post something everyday. I also started to give more than I received– I clicked on hashtags that I tagged in my posts and went through liking photos I found appealing. I left comments on photos that especially stood out to me. And if someone commented on one of my posts, I made sure to check out their profile to see their content; if I liked what I found, I would follow them. This worked surprisingly well– I started getting more feedback and a larger following.*

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One of my most popular posts. Tiffin Wallah <3 <3

I like this method of growing my account because it’s organic and genuine. I’m not just going around liking every single photo under a tag (e.g. #veganfood) and I’m not following anyone and everyone just to see who follows me back. I’ll follow those who I feel offer something of value to me, and if they feel the same way about me they’ll do the same.

It’s also a great source of inspiration for me. When I wake up and scroll through my feed and see tons of uplifting content– people posting about how grateful they are, about their tough workout, about how they’re trying their best to balance work and health–it truly affects me. I feel motivated to go out and get moving and make the most of my day. If runnergirl173 (not a real account) can get up at 4 am to run 10 miles, I sure as hell can get my 5 miler in today.

While it’s a fantastic way to interact with people with similar interests, the other day I thought about why I’m so consumed by it. I came up with a few potential reasons:

1. I finally found out how to successfully grow my account and I don’t want the growth to decline.

2. The fact that I can quantify the greatness of my content by how many likes/comments the photo receives is satisfying.

3. I want to eventually have tens of thousands of followers and have sponsors and make money from my account.

4. I’m using my account to fill some other void in my life; it serves as a distraction from something bigger.

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Likes quantify the level of significance of a post. Duh.

I think it’s a combination of all of the above. Sometimes I see the really popular fitness/vegan accounts and I think to myself, I want to get to that level. I want to be so interesting that 30,000+ people want to know every day what I’m eating, how many miles I’m running, or what I ate for lunch. They seem so cool, so successful, so knowledgeable.

It’s easy to forget that they most likely have their own set of problems, or that they probably feel a lot of pressure to create the best content, to be relevant, and to strategically maintain their social media presence to keep their business going. However, it’s hard to fight the urge to be the most popular when it seems the only reason to keep posting consistently is to grow your account to be one of the biggest ones in your respective niche.

I also feel it does serve as some sort of distraction in my life. A lot of the times I feel confused about where my future is going or what I really want out of my career. Essentially, I’m confused about what I’m doing with my life. It’s hard for me to admit that, but I am. I know the basic outline of what I should be doing in my 20s– I should be networking, grabbing opportunities as they come, reading, educating myself, etc. But I don’t really know the specifics of what the right path is for me, and I’m just winging it. My account is a way for me to fill that void of uncertainty.

So, while my IG account has done a lot of good for me, I don’t want to feel like I’m losing sight of reality. As it grows, it’s important to remember that it’s a platform to inspire and to be inspired– not a popularity contest. It’s really easy to get caught up in numbers and to see people as just numbers, and not actual people behind each account. I want to post meaningful content that somehow helps others. I don’t want to post a selfie just because I know it’ll get likes. Because in reality, the amount of likes I get on my account doesn’t matter at all. What matters is the effect I have on others, and the effect others have on me.

 

*Right now I only have a little over 200 followers so it’s not like my account is huge. It’s growing at a slow but steady pace… ha.

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