Opinion: When Instant Gratification and Workout Selfies Are Actually Good

Today, we live in a hyper-connected world where everyone is glued to their phones. Problems and solutions are just a few taps and clicks away, and on top of that, we have our entire social circle at our fingertips.

Our culture of instant gratification affects the way we live our lives, and even the way we workout and train. Why do we chase muscle burn, soreness, and sweat? Why do we want results as soon as possible? Instant gratification.

Putting in the work provides an escape that feels good. And you WANT exercise to feel good, especially if you have trouble motivating yourself to go to the gym in the first place. Exercise increases dopamine in the brain; it’s like many addictive drugs, but perhaps the only one that is actually good for your health.

Believe it or not, checking social media also elicits the same dopamine response. And I have a feeling that working out and posting about it later are linked.

Some people scoff at the notion of sharing sweaty post-workout selfies and feelings of accomplishment, reasoning that people who do this are only “doing it for the gram”; I would argue that this behavior is completely harmless. What’s wrong with feeling good and letting the world know?

I do think that we need to reframe our perspective on how that affects us in the gym, though. Those fleeting feelings of post-exercise pleasure don’t automatically lead to long-term results. And it sucks when it looks like everyone else out there is getting ahead of you on your fitness pursuit. Struggling to lose 10 pounds? One quick check on Instagram later, someone has already done that.

This might encourage us seek even “higher” forms of instant gratification. You didn’t lose 10 pounds, so clearly you just need to work out harder, sweat more and be more sore, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. If you only chase instant gratification, you might just end up hurt, broken down, and battered.

I still want you to post about how good you feel after a hard workout. But be patient and don’t lose sight of the big prizes. Things like steady changes in your body composition, and small but consistent increases in strength. Workout for more than just instant gratification.

by Jeremy Lau