When I first started reading healthy living blogs, I dove in head first. I started changing the way I ate, based on the way my favorite bloggers ate. I tweaked my workouts and lifestyle choices, borrowing their healthy habits and mimicking their decisions. I put bloggers on a pedestal, subconsciously, and thought of their words as The Truth when it came to health and fitness.
But then, a few years later, there was a shift. I started noticing conflicting ideas between blogs, and even within single blogs. One blogger used protein powder in everything while another preached whole foods and only whole foods. A blogger who claimed to be a healthy living blogger posted pictures of french fries and cake more than she posted pictures of anything “healthy.” I was confused. Who should I trust?
I also noticed changes. Some bloggers weren’t who they used to be. A blogger who used to talk about nothing but running was now in love with CrossFit, and only CrossFit. Another blogger had had a baby, and her blog had more or less morphed into a mommy blog.
But here’s the thing: who cares?
What was really happening was that I was finally recognizing healthy living blogs for what they are. They’re personal stories of real people’s lives—stories of different people who are constantly changing, learning, and growing in perfectly unique ways.
If you want to read along, just remember that you’re not reading a textbook—you’re following a personal journey.
And if you ever start feeling a little lost along the way, just remember this:
—Healthy living bloggers are not all secretly competing for the Healthiest Person Alive award. They don’t all look like Fitness magazine cover models and eat chicken breasts and steamed broccoli all day long. Often, their desire to blog about healthy living just comes from the simple fact that they have an interest in health-related things and want to talk about that interest.
The same goes for, say, running. Just because someone blogs about running doesn’t mean she’s the fastest distance runner out there. Or that she should be. It just means she likes running—on her own terms—and wants an outlet to talk about it (also on her own terms).
–Blog titles are just blog titles. Someone who starts a blog called Super Happy Running Chick isn’t always going to be super happy, and maybe she’s an on-and-off, middle-of-the-pack runner. So what?
Here’s the thing: blog platforms make you enter a title when you start a blog. That’s it. And it’s hard for people to decide if they want to read your blog when you call it “Random Thoughts Based on Whatever I Feel Like Talking About At the Moment,” even if that’s the true theme of your blog. (Again, so what if it is?)
—Bloggers are learning too. Some bloggers are dieticians, personal trainers, kinesiology majors, etc., and have factual knowledge from certified educations, but many are just regular people with regular desk jobs and a lively side interest. In fact, many of them started blogs to encourage themselves to learn things and to keep themselves accountable, not necessarily to teach their readers things.
And regardless of background, everyone is still learning.
—Just because “healthy living” has become a default label for women’s blogs doesn’t mean that all women’s blogs are actually intended to be about healthy living. Sometimes, they’re just about living.
I’ve personally fallen into the trap of assuming a new-to-me blog is a healthy living blog. But where is that assumption coming from? All the labeling is dangerous, and leads to nothing but misguided expectations and unfair comparisons.
—“Healthy” means something different to everyone. There’re no point in holding one blog to another blog’s health standards, or to your own. If you’re wondering who’s “right,” the answer is most likely: everyone and no one.
What’s most important is what’s right to you, and no one can tell you what that is except you.
—Not all healthy living blogs are shining examples of healthy lifestyles. This is an absolutely critical point to understand.
I’ve seen both extremes. I’ve seen bloggers who, in an attempt to show how moderate they are, accidentally overdo it to the point where it seems like they eat nothing but candy all day. (Keep in mind that you are almost never seeing the full picture.)
Then, I’ve seen the opposite, which is even more alarming: borderline disordered eating and aggressive, potentially harmful workout habits. Pictures of teeny tiny meals, fear of certain foods, and some very real (if heavily veiled) negative self talk.
Be careful. Which brings me to my next point…
—You are still responsible for your own health. It makes me sad that bloggers have to include disclaimers on their blogs, reminding readers to read with caution and use our heads. We should all know better. But sometimes, we don’t realize how much bloggers are influencing us.
I used to justify some of my eating decisions with “Jane the Blogger eats this, so it must be good for me” or the opposite: “Jane the Blogger ate this, so it must be ok for me to eat it, too.” This isn’t inherently bad, but it can become dangerous if I don’t know why Jane’s making the decisions she is and, more importantly, whether I agree with those decisions and think they’ll work for my body/life too.
You have to keep your head on straight while reading healthy living blogs, just as you do with anything else you see/hear/read in this world. You have to find your own truth and figure out what works for you, not just mirror what works for someone else.
Blogs should be seen as inspiration, not instruction.
—Blogs change, and bloggers change. This is just reality. There’s no reason for anyone (bloggers or readers) to get all panicky if a blogger suddenly wants to talk about yoga every day, even though she has the word “run” in her blog title.
Above all, bloggers blog about their lives, and whatever they look like at the moment they hit Publish.
–Bloggers change their minds. A blogger who once swore her undying love to tofu might later axe it from her diet altogether. Someone who was once strictly dairy free might start eating cheese again.
Part of the reason for this is that science is bringing new facts into the healthy living realm all the time. Nutritionists who used to be all about egg whites are now suggesting that egg yolks might not be so bad after all. Carbs and fat aren’t the devil children they used to be. And I’m sure there are some “truths” we embrace now that will eventually be shot down too.
But another, bigger, part of the reason is that, well, people just change their minds about things. Don’t you?
—Disagreement is cool, judgment is not. I’ve seen some comments on blogs, particularly about parenting styles, that have really bothered me. There’s nothing wrong with disagreement, as long as you’re sensitive about the way you’re expressing it (if you have to express it).
The trick is to make sure you’re recognizing your disagreement as a simple difference in opinion, and leaving it at that. The fact that someone else thinks differently than you does not make them automatically wrong.
—Blogs shouldn’t bring you down. If every time you leave a certain blog, you feel that icky, negative feeling for whatever reason (any reason counts), consider unfollowing the blog. It’s ok, really!
The reason could even be something “stupid”—say, that you’re too jealous of that person’s irritatingly perfect life. And her perfect hair. And perfect ability to accomplish a million things per day. And whatever. As long as it’s consistently leaving you feeling more negative than when you arrived, it’s toxic for you. Know when to cut ties.
—You cannot keep up with every blog on the planet. This blogging thing is not supposed to be a source of stress, competition, and mindless time expenditure. It’s supposed to be about support, community, and general uplifting of spirits. If you don’t feel that way about it, you’re doing it wrong.
What’s something you’ve learned about blogs/blogging as a reader?
Fellow bloggers: what would you like readers to know about your blog/blogging style?