Monday, September 9, 2013

AIM: The Thinternet - Tool or Tormenter?

 
As with anything weight-loss related, there's good and bad.  For example, the scale, which is helpful tool for many dieters, is a tormenter for me - no matter what it showed, it messed with my head, so I stopped weighing myself a couple of years ago.  And the internet can provide you with helpful tools, such as great calorie tracking sites like myfitnesspal.com (my personal favorite and the one I used for years), or healthy diet blogs (ahem...) - in fact, before I actually began my last diet in May of 2008, I Googled "weight loss 40 year olds" and discovered Lynn's blog, saw that she'd once been my then-current size, and not only was inspired to give dieting one last chance, but also document my journey (to fit!).

But along with the good, comes the bad.  There's the internet, and then there's the THINternet.  Because anyone can put anything online, it's easy to come across all kinds of misinformation and  misrepresentation - pretend experts are plentiful on the thinternet.  Eat this!  You'll lose weight.  Don't eat that!  You'll lose weight.  Everything seems magnified when you read it online.  People espouse a particular way of dieting (which is fine, no one thing works for everyone) and suddenly it becomes a cult-like movement of zombies chanting "join us" in a scary monotone.  Or exercise - again, people will push their agenda as the only way to get fit, when in fact there are many options for a healthy workout.

On the thinternet, because it's so easy to create an inspirational poster, anybody can make something up, post it on Pinterest, and voila - somehow it becomes fact.  Check out this craziness:
The grammar nazi in me cringes to read this.  First, there are two #1s.  In the second #1, it states that "there are about 3500 in one pound of fat" - 3500 what?  Kittens?  Of course, I know it's calories, but come on - I think it's a pretty crucial part of the poster.  Then #2 states that every two jumping jacks equals one calorie burnt.  Really?  OK, then...#3 states that 1000 jumping jacks equals one pound gone.  I'm no mathematician, but if you go by the formula on the poster, wouldn't that be 500 calories burned...which is nowhere near the 3500 kittens that this poster is promising you'd lose/burn if you did 1000 jumping jacks a week.  So what does this poster promote, anyway?  An unrealistic body for most of us, along with a ridiculous promise that jumping jacks will get you that body.  This is the thinternet in a nutshell - silly, shallow, and stupid.

I'm a grown woman who can see through this nonsense, but what about the younger generation?  I was anorexic in high school, and can tell you that had the thinternet been around back then, I probably would have gone off the deep end even worse than I did.  It seems harder and harder to cut through the garbage that's online, and I wonder if the good can still outweigh the bad when it comes to finding diet and exercise help online.


AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you'd like us to address!

24 comments:

  1. when I wrote more traditionally (newspaper) I did a big piece on PRO-ANA (anorexia) sites.
    terrifying.
    and now? IMO it's even worse out there.
    as an adult Im completely NOT IMPACTED--but my child?
    so so scary.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The internet can be very helpful, like you say too but it sometimes has me thinking about "the good old times" when we didn't have it. Just because it can be "dangerous" too for young girls that want to lose weight, for people who feel something and look up diseases and are convinced they have this or that without seeing a doctor.

    But most of the time I'm glad the internet exists because I would have never "met" you and my other fav bloggers if we didn't have this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right about looking up medical symptoms - Dr. Google has scared the pants off of me on more than one occasion, but luckily my in-person doctor set both of us straight. ;)

      You are right, though - without the internet our friendship circle would be much smaller, so there is a very positive attribute to it!

      Delete
  3. OMG, I almost spit out my coffee when you said "3500 what? Kittens?"

    I agree, there is so much bullshit out there, and what works for some people won't work for anyone else. I can't tell you how many emails I get telling me that as a diabetic, I shouldn't be eating that many carbs, etc. I know when we put ourselves "out there" that some people aren't going to agree, but what can you do.

    YOLO!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can only imagine what you hear, with your medical condition. Are you ever tempted to do a post where you reply to all the "helpful" suggestions?

      Delete
  4. It just freaking breaks my heart. The thinspo AND the grammar/math thing. But the herd follows and they haven't had enough calories to be able to go through the thought process you did.

    (I think I'm going to have to step away from the internet for a while.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe that was the problem with the person who made up that poster - she hadn't had enough to eat and her brain wasn't fully functioning...

      Delete
  5. These THINternet promotions are so misrepresented of "True" athletic women. My daughter is a freestyle skier and due to knee surgery earlier this year she has gained a few extra pounds. I always try to talk with her about how she needs to be strong and healthy for her sport, not skinny. Her legs will always be muscular and bulky because when you strengthen the way she must, her thighs are going to be large. She has learned not to worry about the size of her jeans, but how strong she feels and the trophies on her wall.

    I know that I am healthier in my forties than I was in my twenties for 1. I quit smoking in my thirties while I smoked probably a pack a day in my twenties and 2. I am more active due to where I live compared to where I lived in my twenties.

    The internet does have some helpful information, but you must go to reliable sources. Young kids today just go with the pretty pictures and it takes parents communicating with their kids to keep them healthy and on the straight path.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've always had hefty thighs, even when I was a thin teenager - it's part of my body shape. I feel for your daughter, because around athletes, I'm sure she fits right in, but looking at the pictures in magazines and on the internet, she must feel like an alien. I'm impressed that she's a freestyle skier - that takes such guts!

      Delete
  6. Another blog I read started a "Demotivational Monday" link-up to mock all of the diet/fitness memes out there. Because really, any idiot can slap a bunch of poor grammar on a picture and call it motivating/inspiring/helpful advice. I agree that the internet can be helpful place to find resources and support when working through a big weight loss (or really, any significant life change), but I hope that people also remember to talk to their doctors/nutritionist/trainer, etc. to make sure that what they're doing is healthy for them.

    I'm really glad the internet wasn't what it is now back when I was having serious issues with restricting myself on Weight Watchers, I can only imagine how much worse off I would have been.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Design police over here about to lose my mind along with the grammar police :) I try not to read about it anymore and just find my own way.

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a lovely blog you have! Congrats!
    x Hannah
    http://kettlebellsandcurves.blogspot.be/

    ReplyDelete
  9. If calories were kittens, I'd join the circus as the Fat Lady and live my life being snuggled by thousands upon thousands of whiskers. Seriously.

    I love all of these AIM posts. So great. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jill, I love your circus analogy...and honestly, I'd be right there with you, covered in kittens! ;)

      Delete
  10. Every single time I see one of those strong are the new sexy photos on Pinterest, I call bullsh*t!!! Most of those women don't do ANY of those workouts, they are simply professional non-eating models paid to pose for the photos.

    But, I'm 53 and have a brain. I worry about the younger women focusing on that crap.

    ReplyDelete
  11. We can sure make ourselves crazy if we let it. It is such a shame that we are bombarded by mixed messages. LOVE the AIM posts, keep 'em coming!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Like Helen said, I'm worried about the young women who really think they should attain the bodies of the images they are bombarded with due to "thinspiration." I don't want to think about where it would have taken you, my friend, in your high school days.

    Everything DOES feel magnified on the Internet. What is it about the written word that we (or is it just me?) embrace as real and true, just because it's...well...published?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I pinned a thing a while back that said "Don't believe everything you see on the internet - Abraham Lincoln" - so yes, I do think that people see it and assume it must be true. :(

      Delete
  13. I am laughing at the picture you posted because I saw this on Pinterest and John and I sat down and did the math. It's 7000 jumping jacks that will burn a pound, so you have to do 1000 of them a day. Then, dorks that we are, John timed me doing jumping jacks and I can do about 1 per second. That comes out to about 17 minutes of jumping jacks a day for 30 days to lose 4 pounds, given that everything else in your life stays the same.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, it's even worse than I thought! That is craziness, and also shows how randomly off the numbers were on the poster.

      Delete

I love hearing from you and read each and every comment! Comments on older posts are moderated, so they won't show up right away - sorry to my real readers, but spammers love to hit old posts, so this is necessary.