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Fit or Fiction? Navigating Fitness Misinformation on Social Media

Fit or Fiction? Navigating Fitness Misinformation on Social Media

By Allison Miller

Scroll, double-tap, repeat. A fitness model flaunts a fantastic new gym outfit. An influencer with a picture-perfect body posts their workout routine. A picture of a picture-perfect green salad appears to be the definition of health. Your favorite influencer is advertising their exclusive meal and workout plans. Tap. Purchase.

For those who enjoy moving their bodies, most social media feeds look something like this. Yet, there is a silent narrative behind these posts: your favorite influencer is photoshopping their body, their body is genetically predisposed to look like that, that salad probably cost $30 more than most people can afford, and the workout plan you just bought was created by someone with questionable credentials. The explosion of fitness and wellness content on social media in recent years has invited in motivation, accompanied by a flood of misinformation.

In the self-focused society we live in, social media personalities revel in dispensing advice. Even those with a modest following will often spew information in hopes that people will listen. They throw out buzz words about protein and nutrients that have minimal factual basis but make them sound educated when they speak on the subject. Part of the formula to gain a following includes getting people to listen, no matter what you are saying, or how true the claim. Step two is coaxing you to buy their endorsed products. Many of us have watched a video or read an article denouncing processed foods, only to scroll a bit further to find an affiliate link to buy ‘superior’ powdered ‘greens’. The caption reads that this is much better for you than eating celery from the grocery store that may or may not have been treated with pesticides. The goal is clear: to divert your money into their pockets instead of elsewhere.

In reality, embracing the “healthy lifestyle” that many influencers promote is an expensive privilege. While wellness influencers sip $20 smoothies from luxury grocery stores, their followers covet a lifestyle that is financially out of reach. Additionally, the workouts they post are filmed in a private gym that costs close to $100 a month. Social media perpetuates the notion through every post that the steps you take towards your own wellness are insufficient and endorse the new fad diet or expensive workout plan as a solution. Influencers attempt to extract every last dollar out of your pocket and put it into theirs. They attempt to convince you through perfectly posed and edited photos and videos that you need to look a certain way to be “healthy”. In truth, the people on Instagram trying to give you advice have never met you and have no way of knowing what your body and mind actually need.

Each body is unique with different nutrition and movement needs and wants. A “healthy” body also looks different on everyone; health has never been one size fits all. A mysterious supplement will not change this. A generalized workout plan will not change this. The only person equipped to discern what your body needs is you.

It is time to reevaluate our reliance on to social media influencers and companies who devoid of personal knowledge about us for nutrition and fitness guidance. Prioritizing your mental well-being by unfollowing individuals who make you feel less than them is a step towards genuine health. Consuming foods that nourish and fuel your body properly based on your specific needs is true health. Next time you see someone promoting the latest “healthy” diet or workout plan, consider just scrolling past.

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