The UGLY Truth: Triathlon Training Taught Me To Change Who I Follow On Instagram

LoveGrace Hip

photo credit: @st.ramos (Selwyn Tungol)


“Instagram is making me DEPRESSED”

One morning, I received a text with those words; from a yoga teacher friend.  She lamented that her daily feed was making her feel inadequate about her life.  At the time, she was following a ton of gorgeous Insta-yogis, and they were impossibly thin, traveling to scenic locations every week, and spending more time in photoshoots than teaching.  These yogis had immaculate smiles juxtaposed to captions that extolled the virtues of free love.  She felt like a failure; end of day exhaustion from teaching multiple classes and class prep for the next day — didn’t allow her time or energy to execute the artistic ‘love is your true nature’ yoga picture.  I could relate to how she felt.  The TRUTH — 99.9999% of yoga teachers do not have the luxury of only teaching a few classes a week to make time for photoshoots every week.  My friend bemoaned that she “only” had pictures that showcased her real life as a yoga teacher.  The truth isn’t always pretty and it is rare that we see that side of the world on Instagram.  I shared with her what changed my perspective.

The ugly truth behind triathlon training taught me a valuable lesson on how to edit which yoga and fitness accounts I follow on Instagram.  When I started following men and women training for triathlons…I found inspiration in their grit, hard work, and determination.  Many of the pictures weren’t gorgeous.  Their nuanced stories were layered with tears, pain, and struggle.  A plethora of experiences affected me deeply, and began to motivate me on days I felt sluggish.  Finally, real people who are relatable!  They get tired, they work long hours, they have struggles!!!  And they get up at 4:30am to teach 6 classes a day, in addition to their regular training — the real story!!!

 “Honey, get used to it.  There is nothing CUTE about triathlons.  It is hard work, it is ugly, and for some reason, you will come out looking fat in most of your race pictures.  But, you will love it”.

Sweaty, dirty, and unkempt; this is the consistent result of triathlon training life.  I am often reminded of what my friend, a 15x Ironman triathlete, said to me, “Honey, get used to it.  There is nothing CUTE about triathlons.  It is hard work, it is ugly, and for some reason, you will come out looking fat in most of your race pictures.  But, you will love it”.  She was right.  I would also add — it has taught me more about life than anything else I have ever experienced.

Connecting with the triathlon community has taught me to be selective with who I follow on Instagram. I stopped following the beautiful, always traveling, and bendy gifted ones who seemed to be winning at obtaining the perfect life. As a result, I have been more conscious about what I post — I used the inspiration from the accounts I now follow to be more real and express what is truly going on in my life — while still maintaining the details of my personal life private (and there’s plenty of struggle in that aspect of life as well).

Life is like a triathlon — it is filled with tough, ugly moments…but it is those moments that bring us to appreciate the achievements we have attained through hard work — crossing the finish line.  Or, sometimes, we don’t cross the finish line and we learn to accept setbacks with a humbled ego.

Instagram can be a cornucopia of inspiration — if we choose wisely.  Scrub your feed and follow those who show the real side of life — the training, the hard work, the moments of happiness & sadness, and the hope that still exists, even when faced with insurmountable odds.

Here are a few of my faves:

@masumi_g — she has gone through numerous hurdles over the past few years, and her insights have inspired me.

@runtrimom — some of her posts, especially during the Ironman Arizona race, had me BAWLING (in a good, loving humanity kinda way).

@lovegracefoods — my friends Carissa-Ann & Jake post such uplifting, make-you-smile moments.  I love the words “Love Grace” on the bottle — I am reminded to let go feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and do my best to love life with grace (and I have learned grace can be a happy look that is dirty and unkempt from hard work).

@robinnyc — motivational ultra-runner.


4 thoughts on “The UGLY Truth: Triathlon Training Taught Me To Change Who I Follow On Instagram”

  1. Thanks for sharing. This was great to read, as I did a similar thing. My Instagram is now there to reassure, interest, facinate and inspire me, not depress me or make me feel bad about my life or make me feel that I’m not good enough. No more comparisons just do what I’m interested in. I unfollowed a bunch of fantasy, perfect travel and yogi / fitness accounts and got back to seeing real people struggle, listening to other people’s truths and honest day to day progress. It felt a lot more rewarding to associate myself with and embrace reality. I also followed a lot more art and illustration accounts, which inspired me to spend more time and dedicate more time to my own pursuits of art. By changing it up I got a lot more out of it, just by being able to relate to what i was seeing.

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