The Fitness ‘Selfie’

Matt Richardson Personal Training > blog > Uncategorised > The Fitness ‘Selfie’

If you’re my friend on Facebook or follow me on Instagram then you’ll know that I take a lot of selfies. I’ll be straight up, there is a legit reason (or reasons) I started and continued to flood y’all with them. When I first started training and dieting I wasn’t fully convinced I could transform my body. I’d trained on and off for years and never really seen much difference in myself. The problem is, you see yourself every day, so you don’t always notice the changes and gains you’re making. This is especially true for bulking up! Now, I don’t have a very good attention span. I go through phases of being addicted to one thing or another but I require instant gratification. When I lost weight, I did it very quickly. This was to keep myself interested.

I remember 1-2 months into my diet, looking through some old photos. Now, I knew I’d lost weight. I used to weigh myself every day. You don’t get that much information from a set of scales though, progress is not always measured in weight. Anyway, I was looking at an old photo of me without a shirt on. At the time this was a rarity, I’d taken it off to take a picture of a tattoo I’d had done. I compared the two pictures and it astounded me. I’d lost about a stone, but until I looked at the pictures I didn’t realise the difference it had made. I’d lost 4% body fat by this point (and purchased a body fat analyser). A month and a bit later I’d lost another 10% body fat.

It was my mum and sister that persuaded me to put my first progress pics on Facebook (so you can thank them for the constant barrage since). It took some persuading to put up, it’s weird putting something like that for all your friends and family to see. But hell, I’d worked my ass off! So here’s a few reasons I think fitness selfies are acceptable:

  • They let your friends know you’re still alive.
  • They show the progress that you wouldn’t be able to see in a mirror.
  • They keep you motivated.
  • They motivate others.

The effort I’d put in meant that I spent most of my time in my gym, I’d avoided drinking and eating out. My social life had taken a bit of a dive. Apart from the people at training I rarely saw anyone. To keep people updated and to give myself a little drive I posted updates about once a month. I wasn’t proud of my body. I was proud of the effort I’d put in and I was proud of the difference in my body shape but I didn’t and still don’t see my body as anything spectacular.

You see yourself in mirror every day. Though you can notice small changes in yourself because it’s usually so gradual you won’t normally see the extent of your hard work. I’d recommend taking progress pictures even if you don’t share them. When you first start training… It has been said that: You notice a difference in yourself in 2 weeks, close friends and family notice in 3-4 weeks and others notice a difference after 6 weeks. The self perceptions have their limits though. You’ll be proud of your body for a while. But body dysmorphia kicks in after a while. When you work hard on your body you will fixate on a perceived problem. In some ways this is good, it will keep you working hard. When you make pictures of your progress available online it’s always a worry that someone will notice the problem you fixate on. In some ways it helps you get past that fear. When someone comments on your progress with a ‘well done’ or something, it really feels like your hard work has paid off. Alternatively, sometimes people could point out a flaw that you fixate on and it can have the opposite affect. But positive or negative comments aside the input will make you work harder, because of the recognition or to prove somebody wrong.

A few months in I started getting a lot of “wow, you’ve really lost weight” and similar comments. Nobody prepares you for those kind of comments, it’s difficult at first (especially if you’re as awkward as I am) you kind of just say “yes, I know”. The main reason was I’d lost a lot of fat from my face. As I said before, you know you’re working hard but when you look at yourself in the mirror the change is so gradual you won’t notice the difference. I actually started bulking up after, in a drunken incident (in which nobody was harmed or prosecuted) I was described in a police report as slim. Nobody had ever called me slim before, in my entire life. Another one was I  mentioned something to a lecturer about weight loss and he’d said “oh good, I thought you were really ill”. So that’s another reason to share plenty of fitness selfies. So nobody mistakes your hard work for a wasting disease.

For me, with my short attention span, motivation is sometimes difficult to find. But if you’re going to share a progress picture with 600 friends, you best make sure you have been putting the work in. I was fairly self conscious when I started, I was nervous about what people thought. Funny, now I don’t give a shit. But even so, it drives you to show them how hard you’ve been working, how you’ve been keeping your diet in check. Hell, even if you don’t share your pictures you can look at your progress over the past week, month or year and decide if you need to put in that extra work. Identify how far you are from your current goals. Embrace your body dysmorphia and make it drive you.

The last main point I have is it motivates others. Before I began I didn’t think it was possible. Now I’m much more involved in fitness and you see amazing transformations all the time. Much more impressive than my own. But not everyone follows the gym pages. Not everyone has such an interest in fitness. To hear someone say that your progress has inspired them or that they feel like they have to up their game after seeing what you’ve achieved. It’s an amazing feeling. It’s what has made me want to get into personal training and helping others to achieve their goals. So post your progress pictures, let others see what you’ve achieved. What they could achieve if they knew it was possible.

As a side note, there are a few other reasons I post so regularly. Aside from the shitloads of work I’ve put into my training. The people at my gym – Pro Defence Krav Maga in Darlington – started calling me the ‘selfie king’. It became a bit of an ongoing joke, with my instructors occasionally requesting some rather risque pictures. Another is people complaining about the volume of pictures, I was told by a friend that “*** was asking why you post so many pictures”, he then said “fuck them though, keep posting”. So I did.

Seriously though, if you’re putting in work at the gym and you want to show your progress to your friends, then do it. You’ll get a like from me. Fuck anyone who wants to put you down.

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