If you read healthy living blogs, remember this

by Kim on October 1, 2013

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.

large_3908380242source: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

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.

Young active woman doing yoga on mountaintop, facing away from camera.source: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

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.

large_4417778609source: lululemon athletica via photopin cc

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?

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon January 3, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Great advice! I’ve fall in in that trap as well :)

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Gayle August 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Health and fitness blogs add color to my reading. Many days I have found joy in learning that someone else has the same struggle as I do and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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Kim August 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm

I agree, it’s so helpful to read about others in the same situation!

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sambullock August 5, 2014 at 2:56 am

You made really good points about health and fitness blogs in general. I would have to agree with you that a blog isn’t constant, it’s a part of a person’s journey in life as well. Reading health blogs made me realize that what may work for you may not always work for others. It’s all about choices and preferences too.

_________
Paragon Fitness
Adelaide Fitness Centre and Gym

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Melinda May 26, 2014 at 10:37 am

This is such a great post and so true- we all have our different ideas of what is involved in a healthy life. Some days I eat extremely healthy and on the weekend I might have a cheeseburger + fries- it’s all about balance :-)

If you get a chance, you should enter my giveaway on my blog for a Raw Green organics Detox Kit- http://mylifebeingrenewed.blogspot.com/2014/05/raw-green-organics-2-week-detox-system.html

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Debbie December 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Finally someone speaks the truth. Great read
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Bria Pittman November 29, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I absolutely love this post. I’ve lost 75lbs and I blog about my journey. People sometimes look at me as the ultimate vision of health but the truth is I am so far from that. I am imperfect and sometimes I eat junk. I love the way you clarify things for everyone in this article.
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Kristin November 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Well said! I started blogging as a way to keep myself accountable, I share what I learn or come up with but it’s just that – I’m learning. I’d like to think my readers understand that, and I make sure to keep an open mind as well. I agree with all that you said – excellent post!
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meg October 25, 2013 at 7:13 am

thank you thank you thank you! this is definitely something i struggle with, and its so good to be reminded – from the perspective of a blogger herself! – the appropriate role of these in our lives.

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Laura @ Mommy Run Fast October 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Wise words! The bottom line is know what you do and why you do it. There will always be mixed opinions and obviously, no one is perfect. Enjoy health living blogs to get to know someone else and their (imperfect) journey!
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Hollie October 7, 2013 at 5:45 pm

Everything about this post I absolutely love and it speaks the truth. People often think because they blog, they must know what they are talking about…which is clearly not the case.
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Lauren October 7, 2013 at 8:09 am

Awesome post! I think it’s great that a personal journey can show up on a blog. It’s better when a blogger changes her ways and admits/explains it to her readers rather than just writing about something (and doing something different). You can get ideas from other bloggers, but ultimately, the way you eat (and live your life) is individualized. Only you can determine your own path.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Yes, yes, and yes! :)

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Rose October 7, 2013 at 2:44 am

Not all health bloggers would agree on certain topics and health issues and it still up to the reader whether to believe their opinions. And bloggers filter their posts too, they don’t post most of the negative stuff in their blog that’s why others would think that the owner has a perfect life.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Exactly! I like bloggers who are “real,” meaning they’re not afraid to talk about the bad along with the good, but I think it’s still a good idea to keep your blog mostly positive. I read blogs because I like how they motivate me and lift my spirits–I go running in the other direction if they start doing the opposite.

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Lauren @ Dash of Soul October 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm

You speak the truth! Great post. I started following HLBs about 3 years ago and at first I really got myself in a tizzy being so concerned with trying to eat like/exercise like the big bloggers. Somehow it’s a really easy trap to fall into. So many blogs are like reading fairytales! It’s hard to keep that balance as a blogger too, because your life becomes a narrative for readers and I always feel like I need to paint a happy narrative…even though no one’s life is 100% happiness! I still struggle with that sometimes, but you’re right in saying that it’s a journey and each of us is always changing.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Yeah, the big bloggers have definitely set the bar high, and the rest of us are way too hard on ourselves! I try to remember to ask myself, “am I having fun?” and “is this something I would enjoy reading?” If so, I’m probably on the right track!

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Leanne October 6, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Great post! It is all so true. Even when reading newspapers in the health section, ideas can be conflicting – and they’re supposed to be the experts!
I have just started my blog in recent months, and love to write about natural cosmetics or foods that have an interesting health property.
But every time i do, i feel i need to stress to readers that I’m no expert. As even I think, is this actually good for you? All the time?

Keep up the good work x

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Yeah, I kind of tiptoe around giving advice or suggestions. I’ll say this is what worked for me, or I personally like this, and leave it to the reader to take it from there, if they choose to.

Also–OOH! I need to check out your blog!! I’m in desperate need of some good recommendations for natural cosmetics–what are your favs???

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Leanne October 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

Ah thanks darling! Well, I have built up a few fave products so far, but I’m totally on a learning journey, especially with makeup, that’s on my to-try-out list! Faves atm inc Burt’s Bees tinted lip balms (SO smooth, 100% natural), Jason for moisturisers and toothpastes, and Palmers for conditioner. Also, coconut oil (from the supermarket) on your skin, hair, feet, everything.
I’m going to do posts listing brands that do the best natural clothes, or hair products, etc – why is there not enough time and energy per day?!
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Heidi October 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I love this post so much.

Thankfully I understand that no healthy living bloggers are the same and I’m in a better position/more confident with my own blogging that I don’t feel the need to suck up to “big bloggers” – for what? Who knows! Bloggers need to just do their own thing and stay true to themselves – readers will appreciate that above anything else :) Authenticity is everything in the blogosphere.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm

Bingo! I love your confidence. I wish every blogger was comfortable just doing her thing. It would definitely make for a more peaceful, less competitive blogosphere.

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GiGi Eats Celebrities October 6, 2013 at 1:33 am

I want my readers to remember that I am just trying to put a smile on their face… And I say it like it is, so they can love it or hate it – everyone is entitled to their own opinions and views. I only hope that they smile when they read and watch my content/videos!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:29 pm

I LOVE your personality on your blog! Keep it up!! :)

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Kristen @ Medium Roast October 4, 2013 at 12:53 pm

WONDERFUL post. I’m always trying to fit things into neat little boxes, but this is a healthy reminder that things change, people change, and not everything has to fit perfectly with the labels we assign it. Thanks for writing this!
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Kim October 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Ah, that’s such a good way of putting it. Fitting everything into neat little boxes. Why do we all love doing that so much, even though it does nothing but cause stress? :) Thanks for reading!

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Taylor @ Single-tracked Mind October 4, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Love this post! It’s so true – trying to fit into your own categorization for yourself is like backing yourself into a corner

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Anne October 4, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Love this post. I think I’ve fallen a lot into “well, what is so & so doing about this” or something on my road to healthy, and I KNOW I’ve gotten sidetracked in my blog (which is supposed to be about running), but you’re right! Who cares!!

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Yess! Freedom! :)

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Davida @ The Healthy Maven October 4, 2013 at 9:43 am

THIS is the best post I’ve read all week. It’s easy to start comparing your own life and blog to another forgetting they are a person on their own personal journey and not the ultimate example of how to live. I eat inconsistently (though I consider it balanced) and sometimes work out and other days I do not. I’ve worried about what other people might think and question whether I’m still “healthy” if I eat a basket of fries or don’t workout for a week. But the truth is that what I love most about the blogs I read is when they show that they do these things too. That they are people and not a blog. Thank you for this reminder!
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Kim October 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

You’re welcome–thanks for stopping by! :)

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Pickyrunner October 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm

I could say a million things about this topic but I honestly don’t need to. You literally hit everything I would have said. Most importantly though, in my mind, is everyone’s version of healthy. There isn’t one right answer that is going to be what works for everyone. Finding the right balance for you is most important. Thank you for writing this! It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s right for you in the blogging world!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Thanks Sarah! I feel like all bloggers have to go through some stage/stages of “finding” themselves and what works for them, and that’s totally understandable, but once they’ve found it, they need to just latch onto it and be confident about who they are! (And who they aren’t.)

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brooke lyn October 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

thanks for the reminder!!!!! love this.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm

You’re welcome! :)

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Alex @ Alex Runs For Food October 2, 2013 at 8:36 am

Love this post… I’m new to blogging and mainly started blogging to hold myself accountable. I’m trying to make changes in my life. I have the word run in my title but I love all kinds of fitness. I’m trying to become healthier but I still love cooking and not everything I cook is super healthy.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

YES! You are exactly the kind of blogger I’m trying to defend. Do your thing, girl!

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Tiff @ Love, Sweat, & Beers October 2, 2013 at 5:52 am

Great post! It really hits the nail on the head. Thanks for writing!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:37 pm

No problem–thanks for reading! :)

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Jan @ Sprouts n Squats October 2, 2013 at 12:40 am

Such a great post and so many truths in it. I think your life as a blogger definitely changes over time as you learn and grow and just change as a person.

For me reading blogs as well as writing my own blog helped me to see that my calorie counting ways were not making me happy and made me move to Intuitive Eating instead.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Bingo! Change is inevitable, so let’s just embrace it, right? :)

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Brooke Lyn October 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Thanks for the needed reminder. Love this.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:40 pm

You’re welcome!

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Nicole @ FruitnFitness October 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

I love this! Such a true post, when I first started reading healthy living blogs I felt like I was doing something wrong because (enter most anyone) was doing it different. Now I read them because I like following peoples journey. I think my blog might, maybe be classified as healthy living but really its just my journal to talk about things that are important to me at the time.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Totally. I used to get depressed every time I read a really awesome post on someone else’s blog, because my first thought would be, “man, this is soooo much better than my blog!” But really, it would be because they excelled in an area where I was weak. I’ve had to really train myself to focus on my strengths, and let go of the rest. Different does not mean worse. :)

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Maria October 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm

GREAT post! I can stand behind all of this.
I think it’s just a matter of time until readers get to this point of understanding.

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm

I think you’re right! It certainly helps to be a blogger yourself, too. :)

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Rachel @ Busy Mama Fitness October 1, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Love, love, LOVE this!!! Man, so many amazing points here I can’t even begin.

I think as a blogger/blog reader hve learned that there is NO right way to blog or right blogging style or hell, right ANYTHING!!! It took me a bit to learn that. I spent a lot of time in the beginning starting over, redoing stuff and just panicking that I was doing things wrong – in blog, fitness and the kitchen! I can’t remember where my AHA moment came from or when but once I let go, it made all 3 much more enjoyable!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Exactly. Blogging is a learning experience just like anything else! I just hope non-blogger readers understand what we’re dealing with. :)

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Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome October 1, 2013 at 6:26 pm

Yet another amazing post Kim! Love this and agree with everything 100%!

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Thanks Giselle!

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Ashley @ Coffee Cake and Cardio October 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Amazing post! Thank you so much for writing it!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:49 pm

You’re welcome! :)

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Liz October 1, 2013 at 4:23 pm

LOVE THIS!! I 100% agree with you .. I remember when my thoughts shifted. It opened a whole new perception and made blogs, at least for me, even more interesting!

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

It seems like everyone has a sort of ah-ha moment about this. And you’re right, it’s so much better once you get to the other side! :)

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sarah @ sarah learns October 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm

love this, kim! i can totally relate to just about every single point you made!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Thanks Sarah! PS I drove past Covance today and thought of you. :)

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Marissa @ Where I Need to Be October 1, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Brilliant and very well-said! Thank you for writing this!

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Thanks for reading it! :)

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Katie @ Live Half Full October 1, 2013 at 2:23 pm

For me, I try to keep a positive vibe on my blog so some of the super negative stuff I try to stay away. ALSO, some things I just don’t share because it doesn’t all make the blog.

With that said, as a reader I try to remember that a person’s blog is only a snippet of their life and doesn’t pain the whole picture. No one is perfect. And you don’t have to be either. :)
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Bingo. :) I’ve struggled a few times with how much to share. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that people respect bloggers who are bold and put it all out there, but then I snap out of it and have to remind myself that I don’t have to talk about EVERYthing to be real.

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Ali October 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I love this post!! It’s so true. I remember a couple years ago when I started reading “healthy living blogs” how confused I was when this skinny girl who said she ate healthy pictured nothing but ice cream and desserts all the time. I really notice it in the mommy blogs too. All kids are different and there are a lot moms that post nothing about the hardships of being a mom. They just post the happy stuff. I have had to realize that I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and rarely is someone’s life exactly as it is on a blog! Great post!
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Yes, so true! It’s tough because it’s easy to sway too much in either direction, positive or negative. And it’s hard to tell how that balance is coming off to your readers. But I do find it a little frustrating when healthy blogs show nothing but desserts–I get that bloggers are trying to show that they can let their hair down, too, but in order for that to work, you gotta show the healthy side a little, too. :)

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Erika October 1, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Yes! I wish everybody in the whole-wide blogosphere could read this. I am “just” a blog reader so I don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side but I can imagine it to be somewhat stressful when some readers want to hold the writer accountable. I find it very annoying that the writers have to put disclaimers on everything they say – when did freedom of speech and having opinion come with taglines? And yes – I have had to unfollow blogs because I would be so annoyed when I was done reading them and they made me think negative things that I would want to comment but then I realized if I just stopped reading it I wouldn’t have to feel that way and I am not a negative person that puts people down just because I don’t agree with them. This post was awesomely written and so, so true!

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Ugh, yes, I wish we could all cut the disclaimers! I’m not sure if they’re coming from a fear of legal liability (?) or a lack of confidence, or what. I think I’ve probably used some disclaimers myself, but it would only be because I feel like I’m supposed to because everyone else does it. Personally, I’m always very aware that what I’m reading on a blog is just someone’s opinion.

Thanks for reading this! :)

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Katie October 1, 2013 at 11:53 am

Amen Sister!
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Tawny October 1, 2013 at 10:39 am

Wow love this post and your insight! I recently had to unfollow a particular blog because I just couldn’t keep watching her over exercise and eat candy all day everyday, it just left me feeling negative. One of the hardest things I had to do was come up with a title for my blog, because I know that I am going to change and therefore my blog is going to change. Nobody is the same person as when they started their blog, you are right it is definitely a journey. Thank you for this post.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm

I hear you–I really struggled with my blog name too! I knew it had to be something flexible enough to survive lots and lots of changes over the years. :)

Thanks for reading, Tawny!

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Kim October 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

What a great post!!! When I first started my blog I was hesitant to label it a certain way – much as I love running, I can’t do it every day. I didn’t feel like I lived up to the standards of so many of the “healthy” bloggers because we eat meat (red, too), gluten, dairy and even though we eat healthy for the most part I will eat a burger and fries, too!!
I finally realized that my blog was just what it was – I didn’t need a label. I always have some sort of fitness but there are lots of other aspects to what I like to include.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Yes! The blog name thing is so tricky. I thought about including running in mine, too, but was afraid of the commitment I felt came along with it. (And now, I’m so relieved, because I’m not nearly as into running as I used to be.) I wish I could just call my blog “stuff I want to talk about.” Would anyone read it?

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Katie @ running4cupcakes October 1, 2013 at 10:06 am

Awesome post Kim. Cue clapping!! I especially agree with being ok with un-following a blog. . . it doesn’t matter the reason, if it doesn’t make your life better, un-follow!! And I totally agree with “who cares!” because really we are all just trying to live our best life and that’s all that matters. :)

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Kim October 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Yes! I really don’t know why people suffer through reading blogs that have a negative impact on them. I think maybe they just don’t recognize what’s happening?

A few hints I’ve picked up for myself: if I’m like 40 posts behind, or I’m actually disappointed to see that a blogger has posted something new, it might be a sign. :)

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Kelly October 1, 2013 at 10:05 am

LOVE this post. Love.
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Kim October 7, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Thanks Kelly!

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