The Newest Face of Diet Culture is the Instagram Butt

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Like the rest of diet culture, the Instagram Butt is a moralized attribute, gained only though, according to its purveyors, “hard work,” regimented diet (there’s a lot of overlap between #bootygails and the #IIFYM world), and “dedication,” whatever that means.

But that “hard work” isn’t just 20 minutes on a StairMaster. Flipping through the associated hashtags, there are also miracle cures and wondrous technology to get you there. There are #influencers with tips and tricks and appetite-suppressing candies. There are massive genetic barriers that may keep a person from achieving The Look — and there are cosmetic surgeries to help overcome them.

These are the trappings of the diet industry, a self-perpetuating mechanism that generates billions of dollars by perpetually over-promising and under-delivering. When the diet industry hits a bump in the road — like when people stopped being duped by Snackwells and started looking for “healthy” foods — the manufacturers of supplements, snacks, and sugary drinks pivot to meet consumer demand.

This new emphasis on building muscle and strength may appear, in many ways, to be a positive trend — and indeed, weight lifting is revolutionary for many people! — but the laser focus on a thick tush is not about health or wellness. It’s about buying stuff.

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Activity Trackers Don’t Always Work the Way We Want Them To

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Many parents probably hope that shiny new technologies, such as Fitbits and other physical-activity monitors, might inspire our children to become more active.

But a recent study published in The American Journal of Health Education finds that the gadgets frequently have counterproductive impacts on young people’s attitudes about exercise and the capabilities of their own bodies.

…The teenagers were asked to use the monitors for two months, and then complete more questionnaires and participate in focus-group discussions. During the focus groups, almost all the young people expressed initial enthusiasm for the monitors and said they had at first become more active.

But the allure soon faded. After about a month, most of the teenagers had begun to find the monitors chiding and irksome, making them feel lazy if they did not manage 10,000 steps each day. Many also said they now considered themselves more physically inept than they had at the study’s start, often because they were rarely near the top of the activity leader boards. Most telling, a large percentage of the adolescents reported feeling less motivated to be active now than before getting the monitor. (The researchers did not directly track changes in the young people’s activity levels, because the study focused on psychology.)

Can an App Make You a Better Runner?

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Running is simple. But I, with the help of some demanding technology, have managed to complicate it. The last three months have been fueled by a small arsenal of apps, equipment, and playlists that have turned me into a pavement beater with a desperate compulsion to best myself. Their promise was that I would become a better, more efficient runner; I would have hard data that went far beyond the capabilities of a lowly stopwatch and a gut feeling of improvement. But somewhere along the line, technology went from complementary to supplementary in my training. The apps turned a solo leisure activity into an obsessive, not-always-healthy pursuit. Throughout my training, I couldn’t tell if I enjoyed the intensity or whether I’d allowed another set of technology tools to take over my life. But I do know it worked.

No One Is Buying Smartwatches Anymore

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Remember how smartwatches were supposed to be the next big thing? About that…

The market intelligence firm IDC reported on Monday that smartwatch shipments are down 51.6 percent year-over-year for the third quarter of 2016. This is bad news for all smartwatch vendors (except maybe Garmin), but it’s especially bad for Apple, which saw shipments drop 71.6 percent, according to the IDC report…

Looking at IDC’s data, the only company that really did well over the last year is Garmin. Its sales increased 324 percent, catapulting it to second-place among vendors. Garmin’s watches focus on health and fitness, two areas smartwatch owners actually seem to care about. Tellingly, Apple has re-focused its marketing and positioning of the Apple Watch away from fashion and more towards health and fitness with its new models.

… But the bigger problem is that it’s difficult to justify buying a smartwatch. Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers put it bluntly in the press release:

It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone. Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity. However, moving forward, differentiating the experience of a smartwatch from the smartphone will be key and we’re starting to see early signs of this as cellular integration is rising and as the commercial audience begins to pilot these devices.

People who post their fitness routine to Facebook have psychological problems, study claims

Facebook Fitness

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Researchers from the Brunel University in London have conducted a study as to why so many people share every workout on social media. The results are unflattering, to say the least.

…People who are always keen on documenting their gym activities (or every time you simply go for a good, old-fashioned run) tend to be narcissists. According to the researchers, the primary goal is to boast about how much time you invest in your looks. Apparently these status updates also earn more Facebook likes than other kinds of posts.