I saw this post on Charlie Watson’s blog, The Runner Beans, and it really resonated with me as a great way of being honest among all the filtered social media we keep comparing ourselves to. Charlie talks about how we often exaggerate how healthy we are in our own social media posts, due to a variety of reasons. According to a KP Nuts study quoted in Charlie’s post, these are the most common ‘lies’ we tell about our health and fitness:
20 TOP HEALTH AND FITNESS FIBS:
- I drink more than 1 litre of water a day
- I don’t watch much telly
- I only drink at weekends
- I visit the gym regularly
- My kids aren’t allowed sweets
- I have a normal BMI
- I never eat takeaways
- I don’t really like chocolate
- I don’t like the taste of alcohol
- I’m not a fan of fried food
- My kids love vegetables
- I never eat fast food
- I lift really heavy weights
- I only shop at organic supermarkets
- I don’t eat any saturated fat
- I won’t have processed food in the house
- I have never tried a kebab
- I don’t eat carbs at all
- I’ve run a marathon
- My children never eat fast food
Whilst there’s some of these I would never say, there’s also a few that I’ve caught myself saying before. As honesty and being a ‘real’ runner is very important to me, I thought I would follow in Charlie’s footsteps and talk about my health and fitness truths:
SARAH’S TOP 20 HEALTH AND FITNESS TRUTHS:
- I think I probably drink more than average – closer to 2.5-3 litres per day, especially if I’m working out or if it’s summer. I find that if I don’t drink enough, I very quickly get horrible headaches so I always try to have a bottle of water with me wherever I am.
- I don’t even have a telly! We did just get through the first season of House of Cards in about two weeks though so definitely not completely guilt-free!
- I don’t drink often, but I also don’t have any rules about when I do or don’t drink. I will often just stick to soft drinks, especially during the week, but if I want wine, I’m having wine.
- I’m not a member of any gym! I do try to run three times a week and do some yoga, cycling, swimming, strength training, depending on what I’m training for.
- No kids! We don’t have sweets in our house, but I definitely eat them when I’m out or if someone else brings them
- I think I do? I haven’t checked it for years.
- Whenever I’m at my parents’, we’ll have our long-established Friday Night Fish ‘n’ Chips, but otherwise Matthes and I tend to either eat out or cook at home (I feel I should mention that we live above a pizza place though so ‘eating out’ isn’t necessarily too big a step away from a takeout!)
- I bloody love chocolate. Even after six years of living in Germany, I still miss Dairy Milk and it’s the one thing I pig out on when I go back home.
- I don’t like the taste of beer, everything else is fine by me.
- I’m quite happy eating fried food, but it’s definitely not something I eat every day, or even every week.
- No kids! But I do love vegetables! I used to hate mushrooms and tomatoes, but I’ve gotten over it and I can’t think of a vegetable I don’t like. Except for olives. Olives and pickles have no place on my plate.
- I only eat fast food if it’s the only option, at a motorway service station or something.
- I do zero weight lifting to speak of.
- I buy some organic produce (eggs, milk, some fruit & veg), very little meat (and if so, then good quality) and try to watch out for things like where my fruit comes from (e.g. apples from Europe not New Zealand) or unnecessary plastic packaging, but it’s not practical/possible all the time and there’s always more you can do.
- I have never really thought about whether I should eat saturated fat or not.
- What counts as processed food? We cook a lot of things fresh or ‘semi-fresh’ (premade sauce, pizza base, filled pasta, pre-cut frozen veg), but I don’t really know where people draw the line at what does and doesn’t count as ‘processed food’.
- There are about fifteen kebab shops within ten minutes of my flat (Neukölln has a large Turkish-German population) so yeah, I’ve definitely had a kebab. I prefer falafel or halloumi though …
- I live for carbs.
- I have run a marathon! Two, in fact! I won’t be running another one for a while though.
- See 12.
Over Lent I’m trying to stick to a vegetarian diet and cut out all sweet things – it’s so hard! I can tell you now that I’ll definitely go back to eating chocolate afterwards, but I think it’s good to challenge myself and see how well I can stick to it (birthday cake does not count!). It’s only when I really restrict things that I notice just how much sugar I would eat normally, and how much I want to eat some chocolate now that I’m thinking about it!
I don’t pretend to be saintly when it comes to healthy eating, but I don’t think I’m the worst. As for honesty or showing the ‘real me’ on social media, my Instagram is a place where I want to talk about running and sports so you won’t see many private, non-sport-related pictures on there, but on the other hand I do try to not exaggerate my fitness on social media. I practically never post about food and I’ll be the first to tell you if I’ve had a crappy run or workout. This is a topic which I’m seeing cropping up more and more on the various blogs I read and I’m glad that people are learning that Instagram is not real life and how important it is not to constantly compare ourselves to the pictures we see online.
What are your thoughts about these common ‘health and fitness lies’? I’d love to see more responses to the ideas from Charlie’s post!
Sarah is a freelance translator living in Berlin. She loves a good old adventure, from dog sledding in Sweden to cycling Britain, from running a marathon to exploring abandoned buildings and from watching the sun rise from atop Ben Nevis to pedaloing from Prague to Berlin.