The impact of social media on your body shape

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How much time do you spend on social media each day? Do you even know?

The latest statistics from Digital in 2018, an in-depth report that looks at social media usage across 239 countries and territories, might shock you. To give you a quick snapshot:

  • Nearly 90% of Australians are now online
  • We spend almost 6 hours a day connected to the internet
  • This represents 80% more than we spend watching television
  • Two-thirds of Australians spend almost 100 minutes on social media platforms every day.

Think about it — one hour and 40 minutes of every day spent on social media. That equates to:

  • just over 11½ hours per week
  • close to 50 hours per month (almost 2 days)
  • around 608 hours per year (about 25 days, which is close to 4 weeks!)

Keep in mind that these figures are average. There are plenty of people who spend more than 100 minutes a day on social media.

Social media isn’t all bad

Now we’re not here to bag out social media. Social media is a great tool if used correctly. It can help you connect with people, keep you up-to-date with news and events, and even teach you something new or inspire you.

But on the flip-side, it can be addictive, reduces your productivity, contains a lot of misinformation, and it can affect your mental health. All of these things will impact your weight and your body shape.

The time suck

One of the major problems with social media is the time it sucks up. How often have you complained that you ‘don’t have time’ to do certain things, yet most nights, you sit on your phone scrolling mindlessly through your newsfeed?

Most people don’t understand the impact of social media on their body shape. But if you limited your time on your electronic devices, how much more could you achieve?

  • Could you find time to do your scheduled workouts?
  • Would you have more time to go for a daily walk?
  • Could you use some of that time prepping healthy meals for the week?
  • Would it be easier to get to bed earlier and get some quality sleep?
  • Could you use some of that time working on the things you need to change, in order for you to lose weight permanently?
  • Would more time in your week reduce your stress levels?

Going by the figures above, cutting social media time in half would mean you’d have an extra 25 hours a month, or 2 weeks a year to work on losing weight and becoming more confident.

Would that make a difference to your body shape?

The distractions

When it comes to weight loss advice, social media is filled with it. The problem is, it’s often conflicting advice — most of it coming from people who are not experts in this area.

If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, you may have turned to Instagram for some fitspiration, or followed a page on Facebook for some weight loss tips. But is the information you’re following steeped in science? Or is it anecdotal at best?

Perhaps you’re doing what many people do — taking one thing from one program, and teaming it up with something else from another program, and hoping that it will work for you.

Or maybe you’re looking at the myriad of different things your friends are doing — whether it be following an eating plan, fasting, doing lots of exercise, drinking meal replacements, or having food delivered to their door — and wondering if that might work.

The truth is, that while you’re scrolling through your social feed looking for ‘the magic solution’ to your weight loss woes, you’re distracting yourself from the real work that needs to be done, and confusing yourself in the process.

The key to long-term weight loss is to develop a plan that will work for you — and then stick to it. To do this you need to change your habits that have led you to be overweight in the first place. Chopping and changing from one diet to the next, is only going to wreak havoc on your metabolism, and make it harder than ever to lose weight.

Your mental health

One of the key dangers of spending too much time on social media is the effect it has on your mental health. Studies show that social media can lead to anxiety, depression, loneliness and FOMO — the fear of missing out.

However, a key impact of social media on your body shape is comparing yourself with others. You’d love to look like that model on your Instagram feed, but you can’t ever imagine your butt being that small. You see your friend who looks fantastic after her weight loss program, and are envious that she had so much willpower to get to her goal weight. And then you look at yourself and compare your situation to what you see on your feed.

We know you don’t come out favourably when you play the comparing game. In fact, what usually happens is you feel even more angry, resentful, anxious or depressed about your weight, and the belief that ‘you’ll never be able to lose weight’ becomes more ingrained in your mind.

Reduce the impact of social media on your body shape

Can you see how social media might be contributing to your weight problem?

The good news is, there’s a couple of things you can do.

Firstly, reduce the amount of time you spend on social media. Set yourself blocks of time during the day and stick to it. Use your social media time as a reward for doing something that will take you closer to your weight loss goal. Avoid getting sucked into the mindless scrolling that just chews up your time when you could use that time more productively.

Secondly, pay attention to what you’re looking at on social media. Stop following the models on Instagram. Stop following all the Facebook pages dedicated to diets, meal plans and long workouts. Stop looking for the ‘quick-fix’ that you know deep down won’t work. Stop looking for that ‘extra thing’ you can add to your bag of weight-loss tricks. Because reality is, there is no short-cut and no ‘magic pill’ to lose weight and keep it off.

At Imani Tribe, we help our clients understand how social media may be impacting their weight, and help them to become smarter about the way they use it. We do this by giving them tools and strategies to change their behaviours and thought processes when using social media, so they can focus on their own, personal journey to lose weight and become more confident.

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