How to find healthy balance in an Instagram age

Exploring how to survive the Instagram age and its ever-present pressures on body image, with the help of Sophia Parvizi-Wayne and Sally Ratcliffe!

While it’s wonderful young people are so clued up on the benefits of health and nutrition, we can’t help but wonder what it’s like to have grown up in the world of fitness selfies and competitively healthy ‘#foodporn’. To help us out, we’ve turned to two incredible young women, Sophia Parvizi-Wayne and Sally Ratcliffe.

We think you’ll agree these close friends and competitive athletes are wise beyond their years, and beautifully embody the Minvita ethos of balance. Let’s hear from the girls…

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1. Tell us your back story, how did you meet?

We are both elite runners who first met briefly at the National Road Relays two years ago. We then realised that we both had similar passions through Instagram stalking each other, and quickly became close friends. Over the past two years, not only do we plan races so we can travel together but we often spend weeks at each other’s houses training, doing yoga and baking healthy(ish) treats. This just proves the power of social media!

2. Which came first, your love of food or fitness?

To be honest, everyone loves food but, with our passion for athletics, we realised we had to eat more and eat to fuel our training. Sophia started as a national swimmer when she was seven and began competitive running when she was eleven. Sally did ballet until fourteen and then made the switch, given the great hills near her house! We don’t see food as something one should consider a treat or a punishment, it is simply a thing in life one needs so we might as well enjoy it.

3. How would you describe your healthy living ethos?

Balance. We recognise the need to incorporate every food group, and not neglect certain foods just because it seems fashionable at the time. We eat intuitively and according to how our bodies react to our emotional and physical needs. We’re open-minded to trying any food group, regardless of the label hence our love of quinoa, bulgar wheat, spirulina, maca powder, baobab powder and nori!! We run competitively but we don’t see this as a chore. We do the sport because we love it to bits and it provides us with both the physical and mental release we need growing up in such a high pressured environment.

4. And having grown up in the social media age, how do you feel technology is affecting young people’s body image?

In all honestly, a complete mix and I think it does depend on the person who’s viewing the post. In some ways, social media has its benefits. It helps those aspiring to lose weight for healthy reasons and similarly it provides both a stimulus and a strong community for those in recovery from an eating disorder. However, there is no doubt that social media is also highly suggestive. It suggests that many women should not be happy in their own skin and that the only way to look like celebrities or self-professed fitness models is to crash diet or try the new protein meal replacement drink that they have actually been paid to post about. This certainly can have an effect on both vulnerable women and men who have limited self-esteem or self-worth and it is only when we become conscious of the filtered lifestyles of these people that we can extract only the positives and motivational aspects of their posts.

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5. How do you think mums and other family members can best support young people facing any body image challenges?

The main thing to do is to talk. There should be no stigma regarding the way we feel about ourselves and we should be encouraged to focus on what we love about ourselves rather than what we would change about our bodies. We should see our bodies for what they can do for us rather than what they appear like. Our mothers have always been our role models because they come from a generation where food is seen as something to enjoy and to use socially, rather than as a new form of religion where each new diet fad is considered as highly as one of the ten commandments.

6. What’s the one piece of advice you’d love to share with younger readers on enjoying a healthy lifestyle?

Love what you do. Do what you love. There is no such thing as one healthy lifestyle. Healthy for one person may be needing more sleep; to another it may be increasing their calcium intake due to low bone density. Don’t follow fads, create your own lifestyle choices which are both enjoyable and non-restrictive. Repression breeds obsession.

7. How do you manage to tread the fine line between great health and obsession?

We manage it by not becoming obsessed, in all honesty. We don’t put all our eggs in one basket and focus our attention purely on food or our training, as that in itself isn’t healthy socially. We aim to see our friends as often as possible, go for walks, hang out with our families, and once in a while, have a cheeky cocktail.

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8. What’s your go-to foodie indulgence?

We don’t believe in indulgences as we believe whatever your body craves is what your body needs. However, if we were to pick our favourite ‘indulgences’ it would be for chocolate, brownies, peanut butter cups and a stack of American pancakes.

9. What are your favourite wellness blogs and feeds?

Sophia’s favourite is Sally’s and vice versa! Haha. We really like the #girlgains campaign run by Tally Rye, Zanna Vanjik and Victoria Spense. We also really admire GraceFitUk (she’s a good friend of Sophia’s!) and Gena Lofstrand – the South African 800m Junior runner predicted to go to the Olympics. Her training partner Gira Carstens is also very inspirational!

10. What’s your favourite Minvita product and how do you like to use it?

We absolutely love the Gaba rice – it goes brilliantly with a Thai green curry or teriyaki salmon!

With the biggest thanks to Sophia and Sally for sharing these insights. We think the girls more than deserve a follow; you may even see some Minvita appearing on their plates! Here’s where to find them…

* Sophia’s Instagram: @sophiwapw_runs

* Sophia’s blog for Huffington Post UK

* Sally’s Instagram: @adventureswithsal

* Sally’s personal blog: Adventures with Sal