Wow, it has been a long time since we have blogged! Life has been kind of crazy for both of us lately which turned into an unplanned blogging hiatus. This was our crazy last week…
This is Missy’s house (which is usually clean & clutter-free!) before the huge garage sale we had last weekend. This pretty much took all of our “free” time last week. We thought life would settle down after that was done, but it just hasn’t quite happened.
At any rate, today I want to discuss reality versus perception on the internet. If you are on social media (and who isn’t??) and follow active friends, fitness bloggers, etc., you are likely bombarded with status updates of amazing workouts, flattering post-workout pictures and claims of amazing new PR’s. Judging by social media, all these people are having amazing workouts all.the.time. They look a little sweaty, but still gorgeous in their post workout selfie. At some point you start to feel inferior if you are a hot mess after your slow(ish) three mile run when you sign online and see perfect looking pictures after a twenty miler. I am here to say this is NOT reality, or at least it is not our reality. I’m guessing it is not your reality either and that is normal.
I recently read that over a span of five workouts, an average Olympic athlete says their workouts breakdown as follows:
1 amazing workout. The kind that goes so well you are still on a high from it hours later and feel like you could take on the world.
1 horrible workout. This is the one you almost wish you never got out of bed for it. You struggled through it and barely survived.
3 “average” workouts. These are the ones where you are just getting work done. Nothing extraordinary, but not “bad” either.
When I read this, I started thinking through my own week. Most weeks I work out five days a week. I am certainly no top athlete like the ones they surveyed, but I could still pretty much classify my workouts the same way.
I would love to avoid those “horrible” days. Sometimes I know they are coming — I didn’t sleep well, I’m sore or I’m just in a lousy mood. Those days are (sometimes) easier to manage because I’m prepared for the worst. But what about the days you head out feeling like a rockstar and come home feeling like a total failure? I have a couple races that stand out to me that played out like this. I went into them prepared. I trained. I rested. I showed up at the start line as ready as possible and still felt like an epic failure. It happens to all of us. The problem is, many people don’t talk about these races or workouts. You hardly go home from the gym and update your status to say “Worst workout ever today. Could hardly pick up the same weight I lifted easily last week,” or better yet “Ran into the bar today and have bar rash on my forehead.” (This may or may not have actually happened to me… I’m a klutz, what can I say?) Nope. That’s not fun. It won’t get a lot of “likes.” Because we don’t see people talking about it, when we have those days it is much easier to feel like a failure.
As much as I hate those “bad” workouts at the time, it is those workouts that set the stage for the awesome ones. They make them even better. Like anything else, we have to accept the bad with the good. Having this “cycle” of workouts is a sign you are working out regularly. This is a good thing!
And then there is Instagram, the land of smoke and mirrors. It is only human that no one is going to post a photo where they feel like they look terrible. It is a platform where we put our best foot forward posting the most flattering photos that make us look the way we want to be perceived. We all post pictures of our post-race PR’s, heavy lifts or healthy food choices. We don’t post the pictures of the chips we ate or when we felt like we were going to die after that treadmill speedwork session. And then there are the staged pictures. It is actually this picture, which I posted yesterday, that got me thinking about this post.
On the surface, this is a picture of me front squatting 135lbs with my lifting training partner. However, the reality of this picture is slightly different. We were completely done with our workout when we posed this. My legs were so shot I couldn’t even stand this weight back up. The picture was taken and I dropped the weight and bailed. (And then asked to confirm it was a photo and not a video! :)) My tired reality was not captured in the end result of this picture. What you see was not exactly what it seemed. (Side note: I can stand this weight up, just not at that point in time!) Such is the world of fitness on Instagram.
My point to all of this is to know that what you are seeing is very likely not the full picture of a person. It is a “highlight reel” moment. We are all human. Do not be discouraged about yourself or your “average” workouts because someone you see online seems to be awesome every day. I promise you they have bad days, too. Missy, very honestly, put this picture on our Instagram several weeks ago.
We would both be the first to admit that this is more of our “normal” post workout look and that is okay. We will continue to post pictures of our “best moments” on Instagram with everyone else. But I hope we also give you a glimpse of our reality from time to time. We try to work hard but we have good days and really, really bad days. We usually end up hot sweaty messes. But at the end of the day, we are totally okay with that.