I've taken the past 7 weeks off from posting my workouts online. I was focusing too much on my vanity and not enough on my workouts. Plus I was annoying everyone with my incessant selfies.
Social media is an intrinsic part of our lives. Most of us are online every single day, scrolling through the photos, posts, comments, and reactions from our friends (and sometimes from not-friends). We often contribute to this never-ceasing narrative with our own carefully posed pics and meticulously worded posts. A large portion of our attention and energy is devoted to this.
When I'm with people in real life, I make an effort to keep my phone out of sight (some people don't even bother to do this much). But if I'm by myself, I'm usually looking at it. I'll readily admit this. Resisting this urge is a losing battle. Technology is here to stay, and we'll only get more dependent on it as time goes on.
So it's nice to take a break sometimes. To reconnect with yourself. To sink into your own mind and allow yourself to navigate those terrifying thoughts and memories that you usually struggle to avoid via distractions. It's one of the best ways to learn about yourself and to grow. That said, here are five things I learned when I stopped posting my workouts online every day.
Oh no! It's a list article! Suffer.
I don't obsess about my appearance as much.
I'm trimming down my weight right now. But despite that it still fluctuates day-to-day from bloating and what-not. I used to worry about how I looked, knowing I'd want to look shredded for my selfie! Now that I'm not taking a pic every day, I don't have to starve or dehydrate myself just to look a little skinnier.
|Or I can just pan the camera up and not|
worry about having cut abs...
I've cut out sugar recently, and replaced it with more fruit and vegetables. One of the side effects is that all of that fiber hangs around in my belly, making it huge. After a bag of baby carrots and a couple of grapefruits, I look like Santa Claus (though my beard isn't as epic). It doesn't matter though, I don't have anyone to impress. That's quite liberating.
I don't push myself as hard.
This can be a double-edged sword. For most folks who first start running - or anything else - I suggest they do post online. This helps them keep accountable. It's very easy to skip a workout if you're feeling tired or not in the mood. But if you post every day, you're not going to want to let everyone down. And anything that motivates you to keep pushing yourself is a good thing.
That's not necessary for me though. I exercise every day no matter what. Posting online made me push myself harder though, sometimes too hard. I would run harder or farther than I otherwise would have. Or I'd do a double or even triple workout on a day when I was already worn out. Sometimes a little extra incentive is good. But usually this caused me to overtrain.
|Overtraining? Is there such a thing...?|
By not posting online every day, I don't feel that I have to show off for anyone. If my legs are only going to hold me up for 5 miles, then 5 miles is all I'll do. I don't have to kill myself to do 10. Or to run those 5 at a crazy pace. I can do what my body is capable of doing. And even though I'm not following a specific training plan, I still know where my mileage should be right now. I don't need to run 20 miles right now. If I was posting online, it would be too tempting to run that just so I could post, "ran 20 miles today just for giggles!"
Because I'm a douche. I liked doing huge workouts and then pretending they were no big deal. Which leads me to my next point.
I focus on my goals, not my vanity.
I like looking good. I won't deny that. And I like posting pics to show off my abs. I like doing workouts that would kill most people. And, as I mentioned above, I like to post those workouts and act like they're just a regular day. Like I'm some kind of superhero.
|Selfies are less annoying when you're a cat...|
It was all bull$hit, but I was pretending like it was the real me. That's insecurity. Pure and simple.
I'm training for an Ironman. That's a Marathon. Oh, and 4 kilometers of swimming. Oh, and over 7 hours of biking. If I'm to be totally honest, my priority is still to look good. But if that's my only priority, my training will suffer, and I'll bomb out at the Ironman. I want to do well! I realized this recently.
A couple months ago, I discovered, with a shock, that I could actually become a decent swimmer. And as the weather warms up and I can bike more outdoors, I'll likely discover that I can be a decent cyclist too. That's what I need to focus on right now. I've got my calorie counting nailed down. I don't need to obsess over burning calories and looking good for my cellphone camera. I need to be smart with my training, to continue the progress I've already made.
I enjoy racing. I enjoy working out with my friends. I enjoy a beautiful run on a sunny day, or a swim where I feel like I'm flying through the water, or a deadlift where 350 lbs feels light as air. When I first started running, I would run along trails with my dog, or run to the local brewery with my friend Dan, or just explore new streets I would have no reason to drive on.
|Epic vistas, courtesy of running.|
And when I stopped posting online, I remembered all the other reasons I love working out.
I get more sleep.
Smartphones are probably the biggest thing in recent times that have nuked people's sleeping patterns. Many studies have shown that just having your cellphone nearby will prevent you from falling asleep.
On weekdays I would usually finish my workouts at 7pm or even later. I would eat my dinner too fast. Then my phone would beep and light up as I was trying to go to bed. There's no way I could fall asleep if I was constantly picking up my phone to read the newest comment or view all the new likes. And I'd be lying in bed, aglow in my own smugness, thinking, "it was so cool how I did that epic workout and posted it like it was no big deal."
There was all sorts of unhealthy behavior bundled up there. I wouldn't be sleeping. I'd be staying up all night feeling like Batman. Except I wouldn't be out fighting crime. I would just be destroying any hope of being productive at work the next day.
I lost social connection.
This is probably the one thing that's been a negative. And probably the reason I'll start posting again soon. I already isolate myself too much. I'm always either exercising, or resting. There are times when social media is the only way I talk to people. It's no replacement for the real thing, but it's still better than nothing.
I've met a lot of really amazing people online, especially in LUNAR (Lace Up Now And Run). And I've met many of those folks in real life. We've run together, we've partied together, we've stayed up late together making terrible jokes and discovering many surprising commonalities beyond running. Many of the best times of my life were spent with these fantastic folks, and I wouldn't have met them if it wasn't for the exceptional running community.
And despite my annoying selfies and occasional self-aggrandizement, I have inspired and motivated people. I have paced friends in races, I have supported suffering athletes, I even guided a blind runner in Boston. And many of these opportunities would not have come up without the online community. I have become a better person thanks to these exceptional people, and I have discovered that I have more to offer beyond my over-the-top personality.
All-in-all taking this break has been a good experience. And I look forward to connecting with my new friends online with a better sense of myself and a new found wisdom. Or at least I hope so! It's also possible I'll post a grinning selfie and go downhill from there.
But you, reader, are always welcome to tell me, "quit being such a j@ckass."
|Be prepared for more of this! Mwahahaha...|