Tuesday afternoon. I’m currently sitting at my desk, snacking on dates while I try to finish a uni project. I’m in desperate need for a break. My phone is next to me and before you even know it I’m scrolling through Instagram. “Okay so since I’m already here. Why not take a short break and watch some stories?!” is what I’m thinking and just one click later I see other peoples lives on the screen in front of me.
Someone posting a picture of their cat, “So cute”. Someone talking about the next package they got in the mail. “I don’t care.” Skip. And there it is. Someone posting a short video from the gym. Asking me “Have you worked out today?” I have two options “Yes strong or happy emoji” or “No”. Two option. One that implies “Hey you’re awesome” and one that implies “Get your life together, lazy ass.” At least that is what my brain tells me those two options mean. I check the time and my to do list. No, definitely no time for a work out today. And anyway I’m still not fully recovered from my cold and not in the mood to work out at all. And then I look at the dates next to me and decide to rather put them away. I’m not working out so I shouldn’t be snacking.
And suddenly I’m thinking about how two years ago I went to the gym every day. I had so much energy. I was feeling good about myself. Happy. I loved working out. I loved eating healthy. My body looked amazing. I didn’t have those muffing tops, my thighs weren’t touching. “I have to start working out again and get my eating habits back on track!”
Thoughts like these fog my brain. They make me forget about what else was happening two years ago. I felt so extremely anxious when I had to go out for dinner with my family to a place that didn’t serve any healthy options. I cancelled plans with my friends because I needed to get my work out in. I found myself sitting on my kitchen floor binging on every single thing I could get my hands on in the middle of the night. Just to lie in bed with stomach pains an hour later. Setting my alarm to 5am so I could go for a run before work to burn off the calories again.
I’ve had my hair falling out in chunks. My skin had gotten extremely dry. I haven’t had a period in over a year. My body was telling me to stop. But I couldn’t because I was addicted. Addicted to the feeling I had after an extra hard work out. Addicted to the constant energy buzzing through my body. Addicted to feeling proud of myself when I said no to the vegan chocolate my friends had gotten for me for a movie night.
Just because you’re not struggling with an eating disorder anymore doesn’t mean you’re okay
I know that this person doesn’t want me to feel that way by asking this question in her story and yet this is what’s happening to me when I see these kinds of stories. And I don’t just see them every now and then. They are on my screen every day.
Every day I get this voice in my head telling me to work out. Get back on track. And then there is this other voice. A more quite voice that’s whispering to me after every work out. Saying it’s scared. Scared for me to fall back into these old behaviors. It’s telling me that it’s proud of how far I’ve come and that it’s okay to not work out for weeks. Telling me that it doesn’t make me a worse person.
And here I am. Hoping that one day I will be able to enjoy working out again. But for the right reasons. I want to work out because I enjoy the work out itself and not because I like the feeling after the work out or the way my body looks when I work out. These are just things that come with the workout but I don’t want them to be the reason why I am working out. Because that is exactly what had gotten me into the dark place of having an eating disorder and a workout addiction in the first place.
Be careful with what you’re posting on social media
“So why aren’t you just unfollowing them?”, you may ask. Well, because many of them are very good friends of mine which I love to pieces. They just haven’t been through what I have been through so they wouldn’t know what their stories are doing to me. The only thing I can do is try to explain what kinds of thoughts they’re triggering for me and so many others that as well had to deal with these kinds of problems. And asking them to be more careful with what they are putting out. Because especially in our “vegan foodie community” there are so many people that have dealt or are still dealing with anxiety about their eating and exercising habits. And constantly being asked if I have already been exercising or eating my greens or so many other things I could have done ‘better’ today is not going to help me get over it.
As an influencer we have to think about our community. We have to remember that what we post on social media is going to affect the people on the other side of the screens. And yes we might want to motivate them to work out because working out is helping us so much. But maybe the person on the other side of the screen is dealing with an exercise addiction and our story is causing them to go for a 10k run even though they are currently dealing with a cold and should definitely not be exercising at the moment. But our question had made them feel bad about missing a day of exercise.
I’m not saying you should stop posting about exercising all together. But please don’t try to make it about your followers by asking them if they’ve been as much of a good person as you have been and exercises as well today. That’s not helping anyone.