Something strange happens when people get stronger, lose fat, gain muscle, or set a new record number of reps in their zip code for kipping pull-ups. Which is sometimes the same number as the zip code.
What I’m referring to is the tendency to grab a figurative megaphone and announce to everybody, all day every day, the details of new fitness and/or nutrition endeavors in the most annoying ways possible.
I’m all for social support and people being excited about progress. But there’s a right way and a wrong way, and I have an overwhelming desire to make fun of the wrong way, so here we go.
1. Mirror selfies
These are not having the effect you think they are, unless you post them rarely.
Nobody can tell the tiny amount of progress you’ve made since the last pic two days ago. Dial it down. Take weekly progress pics for yourself if it helps, and store them with notes on diet and exercise changes to help you improve your strategy.
Then once a month, show the world. At this point, the world will be more likely to care.
And at the very least, get somebody else to take a pic occasionally so it doesn't look like you're a friendless narcissist. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Even just download a free timer app like Gorilla Cam on your phone and step back. The fact that your extended arm grasping an iPhone is missing from the shot will make it exponentially more tolerable, even if you look like shit.
But if you do look great and you’re proud of that rockin body, get a professional photo shoot done. You can often find photography students at colleges in your area that need subjects to shoot at no cost to you.
Those pictures are unique and fun to see, impress your audience, and have a larger impact than daily shots of you and your disgusting bathroom.
A notable exception; people that work in the fitness industry that actually increase the profitability of their businesses by showing people they do indeed look great.
However, this still needs to come with a balance of great information, or you still just end up looking self-centered. Your marketing ultimately has to be about your customers, obviously. Motivate, and demonstrate you walk the walk, but don't drown them in mirror selfies.
2. Negative motivation
“Just got done training my ass off and eating a meal that hit my macros within .001 grams in the middle of a 17 hour workday. Its a lifestyle, what’s your excuse?”
This behavior only motivates people that are already in shape, while de-motivating people trying to get there, and makes you look like an asshole.
Its like putting a religious or political bumper sticker on your car, it reinforces current beliefs even if they are in opposition to yours.
For more information on the behavior psychology of why this approach backfires, read either, or both, of David McRaney’s awesome books.
3. Self-centered social media posts
This is the written version of a selfie.
Social media posts can be useful, but typically when they’re about an idea, concept, or coach that has helped you out, which will then help other people based on your recommendation.
This takes the focus off of you, and puts it on your audience, which is almost always better received.
Again, it’s about frequency. Occasional posts about your accomplishments are fine.
To learn more about why this works, beyond the obvious, check out the awesome book Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets of Human Behavior by Beverly Flaxington.
4. Multilevel Marketing (MLM) supplement companies
Legitimate supplement companies don’t need to use a pyramid platform.
MLM’s are all about taking subpar formulas that are inexpensive to make, and making them sound like they’re magical.
It’s easy to manipulate the science of supplement research without the public knowing any better, but stand-up companies with well thought out formulas don’t need to do this. One of the consistent shady practices of these companies is including great ingredients at stupidly low doses.
For those that are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, here’s a list of the top 25 MLM’s last year. You’ll certainly recognize a few.
When you get on board with one of these organizations as a rep, or “business owner” as they like to call themselves, you pretty much need to constantly hound all of your friends and family to make monthly quotas.
Several of the companies require reps to purchase a minimal personal supply of supplements each month to stay on board, and then on top of that they have to build their network/pyramid of people below them to a huge number of people to actually start making good money.
Do some people make a shit ton of cash from this? Absolutely. But they are the minority, and this is done at the cost of annoying everyone all the time about your shitty products.
Pick any random product one of these companies sells and I will quickly be able to point out why the formula is inferior, and how it could be significantly improved.
I've even emailed back and forth with R&D departments of some of these companies when I had clients that were drunk on the Kool-Aid, and these clowns typically come apart at the seams once I start throwing around crazy words like “published data”.
So, what it comes down to, is that if you sling MLM supps, it's for one of two reasons (making money is obviously the common theme between the two, nothing wrong with that).
You actually believe the products are awesome, which can be innoculated with some education that doesn't come in the form of your company's pamphlets. Start by grabbing your nearest bottle and typing the ingredients into the search box on www.pubmed.com.
You know the products and claims are pretty fucking suspect but you think this is your ticket to financial freedom. Well, statistically speaking, you're not getting rich by selling MLM supps. Take up online blackjack. And if you are actually good at sales, use that skill on a product or service you actually believe in.
See this great article on the subject for more:
5. Being one-dimensional with your fashion
Do you wear workout clothes when you’re not working out?
Guys, are all of your casual shirts made out of at least 20% stretchy material, and/or one size too small?
Girls, do you wear yoga pants, like, everywhere?
As much as guys enjoy seeing your great asses covered by a few millimeters of Lululemon, its also refreshing to know that you can dress casually without pretending like you just left the yoga studio that you, if we're being honest, attended one time several months ago purely so you could Instagram the shit out of it immediately after.
You don't have to be a fashion mogul, but you should at least have different outfits for different occasions that aren't entirely based around either being lazy or accentuating your physique.
Girls, you know what to do you're just lazy. Guys, get yourselves locked into a James Bond marathon, get a subscription to GQ, get a gay friend, download the Jack Threads app, whatever. Just stop trying to pass off workout clothes as ubiquitous attire.
6. Announcing the details of your diet every time you sit down to eat with friends/dates/significant others.
I went on a date with a fitness competitor once who couldn’t focus on our conversation whatsoever, because she was counting, audibly, the calories of sushi going into her mouth.
At this point in my life I can tell the difference between when a girl just doesn't like me because I'm a dick, versus when she’s just too into herself.
I mean, she was just shy of weighing out my semen on a digital milligram scale before she ingested it later that night.
Unfortunately, I see this behavior all the time, pretty much equally with both genders.
Either get a real eating disorder or keep it to yourself.
If you’re going to a BBQ, birthday party, out for drinks, or whatever, just shut up and do what you have to do. If you get cornered and interrogated, just say you’re following a specific plan right now, and it's not for everybody, but you have plenty of alternatives to keep you from being a pain in the ass to those around you. And do have those alternatives; just don't draw attention to them.
7. Broaden your horizons
When you’re socializing in groups, there’s nothing worse than dealing with the couple of people that are into fitness talking about how much they deadlift and what pre-workout they take.
Nobody else wants to hear this, and you come off as one-dimensional. Read a fucking book. Start with one of the ones I've recommended above.
I’ve always loved the quote, which I’ve seen credited to multiple sources (possibly Thomas Huxley, possibly your Dad), “Know everything about something and something about everything”.
If fitness or nutrition is your one thing, then spend some time learning about other stuff so that no matter what topic comes up in a conversation you can join in with something intelligent to say instead of just sitting there with your thumb in your ass until somebody mentions gluten.
Go forth and conquer
If you work out and eat right, you should look the part no matter what you’re wearing or saying. You shouldn’t need to tailor your wardrobe around what accentuates your physique the most or constantly tell people why you’re eating what you’re eating.
Ask yourself this question; why are you posting about, talking about, and constantly exuding this fitness lifestyle? Is it because you have discovered the true joys of being healthy, sexy, wonderful, and feeling great all the time, and want to help other people achieve this? If so, you’re awesome for being altruistic, and if any of the advice presented in this article kicked you in the dick then make the necessary adjustments. Your head is in the right place; you’re just probably going about it the wrong way.
Or, is it just to compile a bunch of social media “likes” as well as some real world attention, to feel better about yourself? If so, that’s ok, it’s easy to get caught up in the depths of ego stroking. Hell we can all use a little bit of it from time to time. But do realize, that this behavior, when frequent, is far more transparent than you are likely to predict. So while you may get the acute effect of feeling awesome, the chronic effect is that you’re just wearing out most of the people around you.
What if you look amazing but purposely try to downplay it, or at least not draw attention to it all the time? Try it for a month. You just might be surprised at the different type of respect you get.