Can Pinning Be Hurting You?

Steph Wagner

February 4, 2015

Some Pins are more negative and aren't a good source of motivation. Pin the right way for success!

I’m a big fan of Pinterest. I love looking for ways to organize my bathroom or for inspiration on my next dinner planning session. I laugh when there are “pins” of sculpted girls lifting weights right next to a chocolate molten lava cake. Pinterest can be a fantastic tool in your weight-loss journey. You can search for recipes specific to gastric bypass, gastric sleeve or gastric banding surgery. You can look for “low carb crockpot recipes” and for ways to get in exercise at work.

As helpful and fun as Pinterest can be, and it can, is there a point where Pinterest can be harmful in your weight loss journey?

Oh sure, the tempting pictures of desserts every five pins can make it difficult, but here’s what I’m getting at: I’ve started to notice that a lot of the pins about exercise or motivation for weight-loss are actually a bit negative.

In a quick glance through my Pinterest feed, I saw following statements:

  • It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.
  • It’s a slow process, don’t make it slower by quitting.
  • You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow, you chose.
  • Saying you’re not fit enough to exercise is like saying you’re too dirty to take a bath.
  • Don’t stop until you’re proud.
  • Wow, I really regret that workout. Said no one ever.
  • If you give up today, think of how much you’ll regret it 3 months from now..when you could be 15-20 pounds lighter.
  • Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.

If anyone were to say those things out loud, I’m certain they wouldn’t have many friends. While there are plenty of motivational quotes and blogs on Pinterest, I always cringe a little when I see these more negative ones go by. They always seem to have a ridiculously thin and chiseled women in the background of the quote too. Gah.

Here’s what alarms me. If someone were to start getting into the grove of working out, eating well and feeling great about themselves and they start pinning all these pins and think “yeah, I can feel sore tomorrow or sorry tomorrow. That’s why I’m not going to quit again and workout 5 times a week!” When a few weeks later life gets really busy and he or she gets a cold and her rhythm gets knocked off, I fear this mindset would bring a defeated attitude all too quickly. Unfortunately, an ugly serving of blame and guilt come alongside feelings of defeat. 

Because at some point on her weight loss journey she started using negative motivation to get herself going. While none of those statements above are necessarily untrue, they reveal the heart and the mindset behind the journey to health. Negative motivators mean you are making health a priority because of what you don’t want to be. Instead…I always encourage my clients to find their positive motivators. 

A positive motivator is something you can get excited about. Not something that you beat yourself up about. A positive motivator is focusing on who you do want to be. I think it’s important to know yourself well when it comes to making your journey your own. If you know that you tend to have “black and white” thinking meaning, “I’m good or I’m bad…I’m on or I’m off…” I would encourage you to avoid Pinterest motivation quotes altogether. Instead, sit down in a quiet room with just yourself and a pen and paper. Write down all the reasons you’d like to become healthy and why making healthy changes has become a priority for you. Write down every single thing you can muster up and then tuck that piece of paper away somewhere safe where social media will never see it. Go back to your piece of paper often, whether it’s been a “good day” or a “not so good day” just to say focused, centered and balanced. But write it to yourself out of love and not out of hate. That you want good for yourself because you know you have worth regardless of the shape of your body. Ahem, and mine will never be chiseled and be used behind a motivational quote. And I’m fine with that! 

Thank you Pinterest, for being such a great resource in this journey of health we are all walking. But just like the molten chocolate lava cake, I will continue to be scrolling past the chiseled bodies with threats about what happens when I don’t do ten more squats today. #realtalk

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