April 4, 2016

The Good (and not so good) Sides of Pintrest

 I have to admit, I'm hooked on Pintrest. It's not uncommon on a Sunday morning to find me with a coffee in one hand and my tablet in the other surfing fashion, recipes, home decor, and cute little baby animals.  Pintrest has helped me dress more professionally for work and cook with whole foods. In fact, I have found many amazing recipes that I have shared with my healthy eating classes and use it as the "go to" resource before hitting the thrift shops. While I'm a huge fan of this unique social media and owe my cooking skills and fashion sense to Pintrest, I'm wondering if there is another side of Pintrest that is a little more....harmful....
One of my first attempts at healthier eating came from a suggestion I found on Pintrest.  From black bean brownies to home made peanut butter cups, I have to admit I became a better cook because of my Pintrest addiction.
I have started to note a disturbing trend as I surf through the health and fitness boards and have now made the decision to avoid them at all costs (lest I lose my temper and throw my beloved tablet out the window).  From a kinesiologists (that's me) perspective, I find many of the fitness programs offered on this site void of any common sense or understanding of the principles of exercise science.  Many of the fitness and training programs feed on the belief that spot reducing is possible (and, without a shadow of a doubt, it isn't).  What these boards or post do is promote an unrealistic expectation of what fitness and strength training can do (which only leads to disapointment, depression, and a little more self-disgust than before).

What is spot reducing you may ask? Remember in the 1980s and early 90s when you may have been told to perform 100 sit ups a night and you would be rewarded with a flat stomach? That's spot reducing.  Believe me, I tried it and all I got was a sore stomach and lost time.  It is a belief that if you work a particular muscle or muscle group (in this case my rectus abdominus), that the fat lying on top of it will disappear. This is what sparked the donkey kicks and triceps dips (in the desperate attempts to lose our arms flaps or what a client of mine referred to as her "Aunt Ednas"....no offense to all Aunt Ednas of the world). 
Don't be fooled, while using a ball
may strengthen your core and other
supportive muscles, it will not lead
to losing a belly. Healthy nutrition
coupled with a wide range of factors
(including sleep, stress management,
physical activity, and like) will do that.

From performing leg lifts to upper arm exercises, there are hundreds of posts on Pintrest to suggest that the belief (or hope) that spot reducing works is alive and well and exploiting everyones desire for quick and dirty fat loss.  The cold, hard fact is if you do those leg lifts, while you may end up with really hard muscles, the fat laying on top will still be there.  To lose the fat we have to combine healthy nutrition with exercise and hope for the best.  I know...it sucks.

I still love Pintrest and will still continue to use it for ideas and inspirations, but I think we all need to add a bit of critical thinking to our engagement in all social media.  I have to say, I'm getting very tired of seeing the same stick figures modeling the latest fashion and I trying and ignore the many posers touting their physiques, but I'm old, wise, bitter and know better (vs. the young, hopeful, and impressionable).  For many, Pintrest could serve as another way to find support for eating and exercise disorders while tearing apart the teeny bits of self-esteem one may be holding onto.

It's just something to think about.


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