What social media doesn’t tell you about ‘healthy bodies’

We look at social media as a place to get inspired and stay up to date with everything happening in the world around us. For those of us in the fitness industry, social media bring together like-minded communities and people that are supportive in encouraging and motivating you to keep pursuing new heights and fitness goals.

For those wanting to achieve certain physical and nutritional goals, social media can be a helpful source of information and education if looked in the right places.

However, while it is common to see results or before/after images on social media from the fitness world, we don’t see the process of attaining these results. This can be dangerous for those not willing to do some additional research, further reading or even consult a trainer on what can best work for them.

So what else doesn’t social media tell you about fitness? Let’s discuss it!

The importance of a fitness goal

Before we discuss the importance of goal setting, let’s quickly take a step back to discuss why we have goals in the first place. In fitness and health, it’s common to find inspiration in social media. This can be good because it inspires individuals, sometimes motivation and even ideas to shape their goals. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes, this also means that the goal-setting will stop at “body goals”. These are often misleading and sometimes can be “I want to get a six-pack” or “I want my butt to look like a certain celebrity.” Unfortunately, these are not always quantifiable fitness goals.

Speak to any trainer, and one of the first things they would ask you is about your fitness goals.

  • What is it that you want to achieve?
  • Why is it important to you to reach that goal?

This process would mean that we, as trainers would discuss the process of achieving these goals and small milestones and a realistic timeline we can put in place. And as you guessed, this process is not documented on the internet because, let us be honest, it’s not a flattering one!

All about consistency

Once a goal is set, then it comes down to consistency.

  • How consistently are you able to show up for training?
  • How much time can you commit to your goal?

We see people showing up at the gym or their PT sessions on their Instagram/Facebook stories, but do we know how much work they have put in to get to where they are now? 

Importance of a healthy lifestyle and habits

We frequently think about the health benefits of nutrition and physical activity separately. However, that is not the case. There is evidence that integrating nutrition and physical activity produces greater benefits than focusing on one. 

What’s more, it is important also to sleep enough and usually to be able to make time for cooking, exercising and getting adequate sleep. It goes down to organising your life, having a schedule and following it 90% of your time, meaning making it a habit. In other words, you have to be able to plan your daily life and stick to it, so that you can focus on nutrition and exercising. 

Role of nutrition and genetics

Similarly, research as recent as 2021 at Anglia Ruskin University, England, found that genes can explain up to 72% of the difference in outcomes between people after a specific fitness exercise. In layman’s terms, progress in weight lifting and the ability to load more weight can differ greatly because of a body type. Or some might have more visible abs or a six-pack because of the fat deposit around their legs; therefore, they show up much easier or quicker than others that tend to store fat around their waist. So genetics play a role in performance, progress, muscle growth etc., but it does not mean one cannot improve their fitness goals, level or image. It is just that every one of us is different; therefore, it might take longer to achieve our goal.

So, keep in mind these two factors and what is portrayed on social media – how much do you know about the carefully curated image on your screen?

Getting back on track during setbacks

It can be challenging for those who work or study full-time to stay fit and healthy. Time is a luxury amidst all the responsibilities, and it is easier than usual to fall off the wagon and have a setback. It’s important not to compare yourself to others as much as possible. Most who are on a fitness journey have full-time jobs or study full-time, which can be challenging. When comparing yourself to someone you see on the internet, constantly remind yourself about the luxuries they have access to – be it a private chef, childcare and domestic help, which allows them to spend hours exercising, counting macros etc. 

These are just some great questions to ask yourself before labelling someone as “healthy” or “fit” or a good influence. There is so much that happens behind the scene, so much that doesn’t make its way into social media. Moreover, always remember that progress is not linear and can look different for everyone. No two fitness goals or journeys are alike.


My name is Katerina, and I am a certified fitness trainer and obtained my license in Fitnesstrainer B Lizenz. My interest in nutrition led me to study at NutraPhoria School of Holistic Nutrition and obtain my Holistic Nutrition & Health Coach Certification. I offer one-on-one personal training and also 1:2 services if you want to bring a friend. The first session, as always, is on the house.


  • https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/10/211014142032.htm
  • https://www.verywellfit.com/why-you-need-nutrition-and-fitness-3121363#toc-frequently-asked-questions-9e0b91db-534f-40d3-9daf-dab758469d79
  • https://www.karger.com/Book/Home/226888