Whether you aim to get your foot out the door and start a regular fitness routine or want to set a personal record, you probably have a list of goals you’re hoping to tackle this year. But let’s face it — sometimes staying motivated well beyond January is just plain hard.
Luckily, there’s a secret for nailing your objectives — that is, social media. While you might think post-workout selfies can cause more of a distraction than drive your determination (and they can be), it’s possible to harness the power of social media for good.
“Seeing others succeed in sport can spur a drive of wanting to achieve for ourselves. If we can learn to channel this innate tendency for comparison we can leverage social media to motivate performance and discipline goal attainment,” says Justin Ross, a Denver-based sports psychologist.
Make social media work in your workout favor with these go-getter strategies.
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Social Media Tips to Pump Up Your Workout Motivation
1. Post a sweaty selfie.
It’s time to embrace it. Research shows that snapping a selfie can help with your weight loss goals. In particular, before and after photos can motivate you to stick with healthy habits. In Daily Burn’s active Facebook community group, members often post photos of weight loss success, leading to praise and applause from others.
Similarly, Tone It Up (TIU) users share evidence of their exercise and diet achievements. “On days when we need extra motivation, we turn to our community on Instagram @ToneItUp. We scroll through the check-ins for #TIUteam to see their sweaty selfies and healthy recipe pics — there’s nothing more inspiring!” says Katrina Scott, co-creator of TIU.
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2. Join a community.
Not everyone has a cheerleader in their corner IRL. And that’s OK, because social media is there to provide a virtual one. Online communities on Instagram, Facebook or even within certain apps let you connect to people all over the world and share your journey in a relatively anonymous platform, one which is available 24/7. New research found that sharing ups and downs with these online communities can be key to dropping pounds. “Encouragement from others is perhaps the greatest strength that social media can offer all of us,” says Ross.
These online support groups can be an incredible resource for overcoming those been-there, done-that challenges and pitfalls. “We created Tone It Up because we envisioned a community where women can come together and support each other to reach their fitness goals, and social media plays a huge role in that,” says Karena Dawn, co-creator of Tone It Up. In Daily Burn’s community, you’ll also see words of congratulations and encouragement, as well as accountability threads. Whether you just nailed a full push-up or need someone to motivate you to get up and get sweating, people in the group provide the positivity.
3. Make it public.
If you have a workout goal, target race pace or even just a hard workout on the calendar, make it public. “Knowing that you’ve committed to a work out, a training cycle or an upcoming race, and that others will be following your progress online can motivate you to get out the door even when you don’t necessarily want to,” says Ross.
Strava offers one example of this pay-off. “Strava is great for connecting fellow athletes and being able to follow in real time what others — including some elites and pros who share their profiles publicly — are doing. It can also spur friendly competition through segment chasing or signing up for challenges,” Ross says.
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4. Do a challenge.
“Encouragement from others is perhaps the greatest strength that social media can offer all of us.”
Speaking of a little healthy competition, it never hurt anyone, right? Fitness and health-related challenges are everywhere on social media from 30 days of yoga to #runstreak to Whole 30 and it can be a good way to kick-start a new habit or routine, while keeping you accountable.
“Right now I’m doing a 30-day gut cleanse. The day I decided to do the cleanse, I shared about it on Instagram. By publicly sharing my goal, I’m far more likely to stay committed to the plan,” says Gabby Bernstein, lululemon Global Yoga Ambassador and best-selling author of the new Judgment Detox.
5. Check in.
When you’re working out alone and don’t have someone to share your ups and downs with, it’s easy to lose your mojo. Instead, regularly update your social media friends on your progress and milestones. During Daily Burn 365, the live chat function allows members to discuss the day’s workout in real-time, including struggles they overcame and how strong they feel mid- and post-sweat.
Similarly, Scott says, “TIU girls always cheer each other on and comment on each other’s check-ins, too. So many women have met their best friends through this beautiful community — it shows how powerful and life-changing social media can be!”
6. Stay positive.
Social media doesn’t just build your physical fitness, it can help improve your mental muscles too. One of the easiest ways to re-train your brain? Affirmations.
Luckily, Instagram is full of positive self-talk. “Set your alarm with an affirmation in the morning or all throughout the day!” says Bernstein, whose Spirit Junkie app is also a treasure trove of positive self-talk. “Choose from any of the hundreds of previous affirmations to turn inward, and shift your perception. Save your favorite affirmations, and share with friends to spread the love,” she says.
7. Set limits.
While social media does fire up the competitive juices, it’s important not to go overboard. “We can quickly derail our training to chase what we see someone else doing on social media, which will ultimately hurt our own progress,” says Ross. “It’s important to realize that social media is only one tool in the arsenal of training.” His advice? Create your own guidelines for the total length of time you allow yourself on social media each day.
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