March 28

In Defense of Selfies

20140328-084111.jpgThe Selfie: a product of the rise of the duck face, Instagram filters and back-breaking camera angles. Its safe to say we’ve all seen at least one of the countless memes and buzzfeed lists poking fun at this “look at me” phenomenon. And as an avid selfie-er, I can’t help but nervously chuckle (whilst shaking my head thinking, “…errrrr, guilty”) when I see articles titled “Science Confirms, Selfies are the Worst.”

Are selfies annoying? Sure, sometimes. Are they narcissistic? Yep. Are there more important things to be concerned about than if Mayfair or LoFi make me look more tan? DUH.

But do selfies have any use? Any function that is productive or helpful? YES. Here’s why:

When it comes to fitness goals, two things are incredibly important for achieving and maintaining success: 1) TRACKING PROGRESS and2) MOTIVATION

Guess what helps me harness both of those things? The Gym Selfie. I take progress photos once a week and keep them in an album on my phone so that I can see:

a) how my body is responding to the training plan I’m on

b) how I can use my own progress to motivate myself to keep up the hard work! (i.e. “fit-spiration”)

TRACKING PROGRESS: I’ll be the first to argue that physical appearance is neither the best or most important measure of progress in fitness. The metrics of my goals are not affiliated with the scale or a pant size – they’re more akin to how many pull-ups I can do to failure. But I’ve found that the camera picks up on those subtle changes that I don’t notice on my own. Take the photo above for example: my hard work yielded major changes in the upper body in just 2 months but had I not taken any photos, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this. Tracking progress is what keeps me motivated – its how I know I’m improving, which in turn, makes me hungry for bigger and better challenges.

MOTIVATION: One danger of viewing too many selfies of other people is the comparison game. We all do it, myself included. I make every effort to consciously remind myself that I am only in competition with one person: me. Tracking my progress visually with photos allows me to quickly see how far I’ve come which makes me, frankly, pretty damn proud of myself. It’s not easy getting up at 4:30am every morning to get my training in or spending a Sunday afternoon making healthy meals for the week but I do it because it makes me feel good. And in those moments of “I’d really rather skip or cheat today”, these photos of MY own progress keep ME motivated to stay on track. I compete with no one but myself.

What I think bothers most people about selfies is when they are posted online and in abundance. Is there really a should/should not creed for selfie etiquette? Not really. So here’s what I say: Do I post all of my weekly photos on social media? No. Do I have to post any at all? Nope. But do I post some anyway? Hell yea. I am proud of my achievements and just like anyone else who tackles a challenging goal, its OK to share it.