Every so often, I take a break from Instagram. For a couple of days this week, (Monday and Tuesday, if you didn’t notice :P) I only opened it to quickly check and respond to my DMs. I didn’t post anything or share any stories, and I didn’t spend any time scrolling through my feed. I didn’t fall asleep in bed at night with my phone on my chest, or wake up in the morning and immediately check the insights from my latest post – which are never great, by the way, thanks to Instagram and their algorithm changes…sigh.
Instagram can be so addicting sometimes. You check it when you’re in line at a grocery store, waiting for an appointment, while you’re eating lunch, while you’re watching Netflix, and the list goes on. Maybe it’s a fear of missing out, maybe it’s how we stay connected to others, or maybe it’s just a never-ending source of entertainment. Whatever it is, the good news is that on the days I take a break, I never miss any earth-shattering news (that someone hasn’t texted me about already), and I feel more confident, balanced, and frankly, a tiny bit empowered when I go back on.
Okay, I do love Instagram. I love that I can have separate accounts for my personal life (ie. my adorable children) and my fitness passion. I love seeing my friends’ wedding pictures, their cute little families, their vacations, new fitness videos, and new dresses and bikinis from my favourite online shops. It has inspired new ideas, allowed me to meet new people and find new (awesome) businesses, and keep in touch with friends living far away.
It’s an incredibly powerful and useful tool for a small business like mine. It’s free, which is obviously a great thing. I can share and market my business as often as I want, to an unlimited* audience, in real time. It’s easy to use and figure out, it lets me connect with other businesses to learn and collaborate, and it allows clients to follow along and potential clients to easily reach out with any questions about my programs.
*by unlimited, I mean, 900 (or so) followers 😉
As a fitness business, it’s even more essential for me to share how fitness has changed my life, and how healthy living is a doable, completely attainable thing, even if you’re a busy mom like me. I truly believe in the countless benefits of incorporating a fitness program like mine into your life, and if my posts or stories can spark even the smallest bit of inspiration in another woman to live a healthier, more confident life, I’m thrilled. I share stories of my workouts and fun exercises to try. I share stories about products I find that are helpful on a weight loss journey or transition to healthier living. I share stories of my dinnertime routine and easy-to-follow recipes that are great for keeping calories and macros on track, and still feeding the picky eaters in your life. And like any good Instagrammer, I share some goofy nonsense. Just swipe right if you don’t like it guys #cantstopwontstop
But despite its power and entertainment, sometimes I need a little break. Here’s why:
1. Instagram is a highlight reel, and life isn’t all highlights
Do you ever scroll through your feed and wonder how others are living such extravagant, exciting lives, but you’re not? Hey girl I follow, are you really eating one of those beautiful smoothie bowls with the flowers and perfectly frozen fruits on top, like, every day? Do you always just happen to be on a patio drinking a fancy margarita in a super cute outfit right at sunset with a professional photographer? Are you just always getting new puppies to snuggle with on your super clean white bed? I have so many questions.
Let’s face it, scrolling through the carefully selected, highly edited, and often professionally taken photos on Instagram can make you feel like your life isn’t quite as luxurious as it should be. Admittedly, I do follow lots of celebs, but even some non-celebs I follow always seem to be so put together. You know the photos of the happy new mom, with her perfectly blow dried hair and flawless make up, just serenely breastfeeding her newborn on a couch full of matching throw pillows, holding a coffee mug with one of those cute mom slogans on it? I mean, I don’t find myself ever in such a situation, so naturally, I have so many questions! Do you get ready like that every day? If you do, why? Do you just have the one kid, then? Who takes these photos for you? Does your friend take them while she’s visiting? Does your husband come home on his lunch and snap a few? It’s definitely daytime light, right? Is this a stock photo taken at a different time? What do you look like right now? So. Many. Questions.
I also follow lots of fitness accounts, so my feed is often filled with photo after photo of beautiful women with long wavy hair (which seems to be a pre-requisite for being hot now?), six-packs, toned arms and bums with zero cellulite. Good editing, maybe. But I bet lots of them are just that perfect. Which is totally cool, but, then I look up at myself, and my growing pregnant belly, and feel that extra jiggle in my butt and my sports bra cutting off my circulation, and I’m like, ugh, gross. Cue body hating, negative spiral.
But you know what? Those hot fit chicks aren’t always pumped up, carb deprived, spray tanned and photo-shoot ready. They’ll maybe have babies (if they haven’t already) and they’ll gain weight in all the crappy places too. And that super put together mom with the hair and the pillows, she’ll be puked on, and pooped on too, just like the rest of us. Those moments just won’t make it on Instagram.
2. A break from Instagram means free time
I can’t tell you exactly how long I spend each day scrolling through Instagram, but it’s probably like, a good hour collectively. I can tell you that there have been times when 30-40 minutes have gone by and I don’t even realize it because I’m in so deep, and I end up being late, or not having enough time to shower or eat as a result.
As a business, I’m constantly thinking of content that my users might find helpful in some way. My followers and clients love my recipe stories and seeing what I’m making for dinner. A few of them even messaged me and asked me what I had for dinner on Monday and Tuesday because I didn’t post about it. All of this content takes time (have you ever tried taking photos and videos at every stage of cooking chicken? There’s a lot of extra raw chicken hand washes required), and while it’s something I love to share, taking a break means I can whip through it and get dinner on the table 15 minutes sooner.
One of the biggest deterrents for women to commit to a fitness program is lack of time to devote to doing workouts, or diet planning, or cooking homemade, healthy meals. Try clocking the time you spend on Instagram for a day, and then a week, and then tell me there isn’t something better you could be doing with that time. And if you decide you want to work out during that extra time, let’s get you started on a program!
OR! Just for fun, make a rule that every time you go on Instagram, you have to be doing a static exercise while you scroll away (for example, a wall sit, or a plank). THEN tell me how long you were on Instagram in a day. I’m going to try this. Stay tuned to my stories to see how I make out 😉 But NOT if you’re on a break. Then just trust that I’m doing it, and enjoy your break.
3. Comparisons are never good on Instagram
I don’t know one woman who hasn’t at one time or another compared herself to someone else, and I would bet that the majority of women are constantly doing it. And Instagram is literally the worst for comparing yourself. There’s lighting, there’s angles, there’s outfits, there’s different poses, and then on top of all of that, there are filters and photo editing apps too.
And I know there’s a whole “realstagram” trend happening right now, where women post a make-up free, un-edited, “real” photo of themselves, but even those could be photos carefully selected from a whole camera roll full of that same selfie that were too awful to post.
You’ll never know. So, you can’t really compare your worst with what someone else chose to show the world as their worst.
What you can do, and what I do (a lot) is take my own “progress” photos. If I try a new diet for a few weeks, I’ll take a before shot of myself and then take another to see what the difference is. If I dedicate lots of workouts to my legs or butt for a few weeks, I take some photos to see if my hard work is paying off.
During my pregnancy, I’ve taken a progress photo every week to watch how my body changes over time. And my postpartum motivation won’t be a comparison to someone else, it will be to myself, after I take the time I need to heal and enjoy the first moments with my new babe.
I was actually going through some of my photos from a year ago when I was my most fit ever (when I still thought I wasn’t nearly as hot as the girls on Instagram, sigh) and I vowed to myself never to think that way about my body again. Looking back at these photos, I can see the dedication in my eyes, and I’m proud of the body I was able to build. As women, our bodies naturally change at different stages in our lives. Sometimes it’s for pregnancy, sometimes it’s just where you are in your monthly cycle, and sometimes it’s because we had a really good summer full of frozen drinks, wine and relaxing time with family and friends, and didn’t prioritize our crazy gym schedules and low calorie diets. We have our whole lives to be fit and healthy, and I’m not willing to sacrifice my life’s sweetest moments to keep up with an image a stranger chooses to post online.
So, a break from Instagram every once in a while, for me, is a way to find perspective on those comparisons. To remember that a still image I see on Instagram might not be reality, and even if it is her reality, it doesn’t matter if it’s not mine at the moment.
Instagram is a meaningful tool for my business, and a platform that I can use to share my passion for fitness and healthy living with people who are interested in hearing it. And my personal Instagram is a collection of my most special moments with my family, that one day I hope my kids will look back on and smile.
But every once in a while, I take a break. Because when it’s Instagram vs. reality, reality always wins in my books.
Try it sometime