Decision making with social media

As we wind down the 2015 season, I find this a great time to talk about how social media may affect your decisions over the next few months. 

First off, I'd like to share a little story. 

Nine years ago I was training for my first Ironman. I was 23 years old when I registered for IMFL and I met Karel on my birthday (when I turned 24). 

Even though I had a lot of friends who were triathletes, I didn't know a lot of people who had finished an Ironman. I was a swimmer, turned runner, turned triathlete. I knew about the history with the Kona Ironman (World Championship) but every Ironman race seemed like an extreme challenge.

Karel and my parents thought I was out of my mind for wanting to put my body through a 140.6 mile event but they still supported me. In a weird way, it was really cool to feel like I was the "only" one who was doing this crazy distance triathlon. 

Now you may be asking how this is even possible to feel alone in an Ironman journey, especially with the sport of triathlon being so popular and the Ironman distance being so iconic. 

First off, I wasn't actively involved with social media. In 2006, Facebook was still in it's infancy, I didn't blog (or know about other blogs) and the only triathlon forum that I was familiar with was Beginner Triathlete. 

Back then, I didn't find myself comparing my journey to anyone else because I had nothing to compare it to. I didn't ask myself "am I doing enough" because I didn't know any other way than to just follow my training plan (which I found on the internet for free). I didn't feel inclined to buy new wheels for my bike, new running shoes or use different nutrition products just because a professional or a top age grouper was using those products. I didn't read blogs or forums to learn how others were fueling, training or racing but instead, I gathered most of my information from books and magazines. Back then, the information was often quite simple (and repetitive) as there were few experts in the area of endurance triathlons. I didn't know of better shoes, a better bike, better nutrition or better training because I wasn't spending any energy on what other athletes were doing. 

But somehow it all worked out. 

I won my age group (18-24) by almost an hour, missed breaking 11 hours by less than a minute and qualified for Kona in my first 140.6 mile event.
I didn't wear a watch in the swim, I used a cat eye to see my speed and distance on my bike and used a HR monitor (without pace) for the run.
I didn't even have a race strategy. I just went out there with the goal of finishing. 

I still remember race week and race day like it was yesterday. I had so much confidence in myself simply because I was not focused on anyone else. I was so committed to finishing the race that I didn't feel any extra pressure from anyone else. In fact, only my close friends that frequently talked to me (face to face) knew that I was doing the race.
After the race was over, I called people to tell them the exciting news.
My boyfriend Karel still thought I was crazy for wanting to do another Ironman the next year. 

For many of us, social media is part of our life. For Trimarni, it is an integral part of our business and how we connect, educate and inspire other athletes. You probably found us through social media and we appreciate you "following" us via the Trimarni blog, instagram, twitter and Facebook pages.
Social media has it's benefits even for the every-day person as it can be motivating to see what others are doing and to share personal and professional accomplishments, birthdays and joyful occasions with others.
I love being able to connect with people, from all over the world, in less than a minute. I absolutely love pictures (and taking pictures), quotes and happy moments and I love sharing experiences with others.
Oh, and I also love funny and/or cute animal videos.
There are never too many cute animal videos.

But there is a downside to social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites, Instagram) in that it can make you feel as if you are inadequate and can affect your thoughts. As if you are not doing the right things or making good decisions. Isn't strange how social media can make some people feel as if they aren't good enough?
 You are not traveling enough, making enough money, training enough, happy enough, accomplished enough or in love enough. It may seem like everyone is having the best life/day ever and your life is no where near as exciting or rewarding.

Social media has the power to be uplifting but it also has the power to negatively affect your self-esteem and decision making. 

As you end the 2015 year, I encourage you to think about social media and how it may be positively or negatively affecting how you live, eat or train and your decisions. 

Social media is a snapshot of real life. If you have found yourself anxious, stressed or overwhelmed by the lives of other people, especially as it relates to how you train or eat, I encourage you to take a break or simplify your social media outlets. It is important that you learn how to connect with others in real-life exchanges and how to "follow" people, professionals or experts that will help you be a better person.  And always be sure that your connections and relationships with others on social media are authentic, genuine and honest.
And when you have a personal issue, problem or setback as it relates to making an important decision affecting your training or health, avoid using social media to find the answer. 

Reach out to an expert when you have a question or need help.

Now moving forward, as it relates to your decision making around the holiday season and into the New Year, here are some topics that you may find on social media: 
-Lifestyle habits

Over the next few months, social media is going to be flooded with personal statements/photos and sponsored advertisements as to what people are trying, doing or using, relating to health, weight loss and training. You will likely hear about the following: 
-The best diet ever
-The best shoes ever

-The best bike ever
-The best lifestyle choices ever

-The best race schedule ever
-The best training plan ever
-The best team ever

For whatever reason, your "friends" on social media will boast about what they are trying (for many, likely for the first time) and their instant feedback will be shared,likely with lots of exclamation marks and bold/capitalized words, as to how much they love what they are wearing, eating or doing.
I'm trying this new diet and it's amazing!!!!!!! It's only been a day but I FEEL SO GOOD!!!

 But the question is.....
Are these changes necessary and beneficial for you? 

It is important that you do not become jealous, envious or overly interested in what other people are promoting. We must remember that over the holidays and into the New Year, social media has a tremendous amount of power in convincing you that you need to change.

Friends and followers become very interesting when they try something new but don't be fooled that you need to jump on every new fad, plan, product or gear, just because someone else is using it.
Yes, we learn a lot when people try new things but just because something is new or trendy, doesn't mean it is the best for you right now. 

As you continue to use social media to make your life better, be sure that you are not measuring your own successes by comparing your accomplishments to someone else.
You must remember that social media provides people with the opportunity to share a moment, a thought or an experience.
A snapshot of life for someone else is not your reality. 

I encourage you to become more self-aware in 2016 and now is a great time to start. It's time to stop comparing your life to others on social media, especially as it relates to your athletic journey. When was the last time you confidently said "I trust what I am doing and the decisions I am making"?

You don't need reinforcement from hundreds of "friends" on social media to confirm that you are making the right decisions. You don't need dozens or hundreds of LIKES to make you feel good about a workout or picture. If it makes you feel good, that's all that maters.
You've lived long enough to know what it feels like to make good choices that directly and positively affect your life.
By all means, please share your personal accomplishments and high moments on social media as you are likely inspiring a lot of people. But as it relates to questioning what you are doing every time you read a post/blog from someone else, this is when you need to stand up for yourself and stop doubting your personal choices that may be working for you. 

Perhaps this is more of a disclaimer than a suggestion as it is important that you use social media wisely as it has the potential to positively or negatively affect your decision making over the next few months. 

Every year, Karel and I hear about athletes who quickly change running shoes because of a professional athlete endorsement, makes an impulse purchase on race wheels or a new bike to be faster, sign up for a race because everyone is doing it (or because it is a "fast" or "easy" race) or trying a new diet fad in an effort to become leaner, a better fat burner or stronger.
Sometimes the decisions work short-term for some athletes but most of the time, these changes do not come with positive outcomes because they are not the best decisions for you. 

Choose your social media outlets wisely.
Don't let someone else make you believe that you need to change. 

Keep being inspiring and motivating with your active and healthy lifestyle.

Enjoy being you!

And thank you for reading this blog.
We appreciate you following Trimarni.