I am a fit and healthy 25 year old woman. Standing at 5 foot 3 inches tall, I wear a size 10 (sometimes an 8) and exercise regularly. I eat an extremely balanced diet, never depriving my body of nutrients while having treats in moderation. I have a good social life, enjoy meals out with fiends and boyfriend with the occasional takeaway with my family. I can out-sprint male colleagues on the rowing machine, am lifting heavier weights than I have ever managed before, completing crazy fitness challenges and have overcome my 3pm slumps at work. I am living a healthy and happy life.
So why isn’t this enough?
For those that know my medical history in all of it’s glory will know I am partial to a hospital stay or two. Over the past 4/5 years I have suffered A LOT with stomach problems. Still undiagnosed, they gave me endless possible prognoses only to finally put it down to IBS. A cop-out in my opinion, but something I’ve had to live with since. I did my fair share of trials with food; cutting out gluten, cutting out dairy, not drinking certain milks, not eating certain carbohydrates, cutting out certain fruits – yeah, you get the idea. And no, I didn’t find the root cause of the stomach cramps that came with sleepless nights and bloating that would challenge a 7 month pregnant woman.
I haven’t suffered from a stomach ‘flare up’ as I called them for over a year now. Coincidentally, or not, in that same time I’ve put on some weight. While it may not be so noticeable to others, it started staring back at me every time I looked in the mirror. Clothes I used to wear were getting tight on me, while some jeans didn’t even do up. I began to feel my confidence drop and felt self-conscious in photos. I’d say “could you take another one, please?” as I frantically try to rearrange my body into a position I knew would come across better in the photograph.
Following an inconsiderate remark by some guys at my gym, I found myself calling my best friend crying down the phone at how terrible I felt. She continued to remind me that while I may have put on a pound or two (it was more than that but she said it hadn’t look like it) I was extremely healthy. I hadn’t got a cold in a while and I definitely hadn’t had any stomach problems. Later that day, while subconsciously scrolling through Instagram, I found myself questioning how a comment from two random people had managed to bring a confident woman to tears. The answer was right in front of me.
It’s so easy for us as humans to compare the rollercoaster that is our every day lives, to the highlight reels of the carefully selected pictures people post on Instagram. When it comes to my body, I can hold my hands up and say I am as guilty of it as millions of other people are. A new ‘trend’ to draw attention to the unrealistic and unobtainable body ‘goals’ people flood their profiles with shows instant ‘transformation’ pictures. It’s honest and raw and most importantly, real life. Here are a few:
Loads of Insta fitness gurus are jumping on the ‘life is real’ bandwagon and posting raw and honest pictures about the truth behind their online pictures and are definitely worth checking out. Two Peas in a Pod duo, Chessie King and Steph Elswood, are definitely two of my favourite Instagramers for keeping shit real.
I did something similar to this last year and blogged about it. You can read about my overnight ‘transformation’ here…. Social Media and Reality Distortion
We live in a world where everyone spends a little too much time looking at pictures of others, and not enough time appreciating what they have right in front of them. Themselves.
We all, myself included, need to take a step back from the false reality slapping us in the face from social media and stop letting people’s opinion (and sometimes comments) affect our confidence. I am coming to terms with the fact that living a balanced lifestyle and actually being healthy matters so much more than having a washboard stomach or 10% body fat. I am aware now, more than ever, of the fact that that my weight will fluctuate depending on my gym-to-eating-crap ratio and I’m becoming increasingly okay with that.
If you know someone that’s trying their best to lose weight, tone up, or lead a healthier lifestyle, give them some support, let them know you are proud of them and motivate them to keep going. It can be a long and difficult journey to accomplish any of those things and making spiteful remarks about someone’s appearance, in reality or through the extremely distorted version of that in the form of social media, can be destructive.
Be kind, always.