I lived the first 18 years of my life morbidly obese, and I credit those days with providing me a broad span of values outside of what I look like. I could never let my body define me because it would have only limited me – I therefore have never been one to judge others or myself based on appearances. I grew up with an innate understanding that your body is not your worth, and you are truly the person beneath the shell. That, among other reasons, is why I’m so grateful for my past. Every pound of it.
I’ve felt for some time now that there must be a reason I could never relate to or identify with a good portion of the fitness community the way I once initially thought I would. Or should. Or could.
I’m not here for fitness. I’m here for health.
I don’t give a shit about building your booty or toning your arms or shredding your abs. I don’t care how little body fat you have, how long you can run, how much you can deadlift, or if you know what a deadlift even is. It doesn’t matter to me if you’ve gained weight or lost weight or if you’re bigger or smaller or if what your body looks like is even in your stream of consciousness. Been there – all of those places. That’s why I know, very intimately, that what you look like does not equal who you are. (That’s also why I’m going to school for social work, not exercise science or nutrition.)
It’s proving quite a struggle to maintain this somewhat deep and philosophical point of view in what sometimes feels like a very shallow fitness industry. I’m an advocate for working out because our human bodies were designed by nature to be physically active and I believe in exercise because of how it’s strengthened my mind and consequently changed my life. But as a personal trainer, with a job necessarily dedicated to physical and visible results, I’ve committed myself to being a part of the very community within which I feel the most defined and judged by my body, my thinness and strength (or lack thereof) specifically. Though I know these are not the most important things about me as a person, 1. Being an active member of the fitness world and 2. Having a social media account somehow constantly make me lose sight of that. That’s what people want to see. That’s how I get clicks and likes and comments and shares and followers and clients and money and success and live happily ever after.
My before/after pictures and photos of me with visible ab lines get the most interaction and attention, but I what I want more than anything is for people to understand that it’s just one piece of the very complex puzzle. I believe in using the body as a gateway to rewiring the mind, so I publish intriguing photos because I hope the rest of my content will inspire at least one person to focus on his or her HEALTH, life, goals, and growth – not the number on the scale. My intent with using this platform is for everyone to understand that my changed body is a reflection of my changed mind and that the TRUE transformation occurred within me, but there are no pictures to capture the leaps and bounds and strides I’ve made on the inside. I have changed and learned and grown and triumphed so much more as a person AFTER my weight loss, but I can’t catch your eye with snapshots of improved mental strength.
In real life, I am meditating and visualizing and reading and writing and doing yoga and taking care of my mental, emotional, and spiritual health, but my (now thin) body is what gets attention from the world. I have never been in this social media game for validation and approval – those closest to me know how much I still struggle to accept the pose-and-filter way of things today – but I do admittedly want to be noticed and heard in the endless abyss of yet another newsfeed waterfall because I believe my story is important.
I want people to read what I have to say, so I chose the most attention-grabbing photos to share long captions with. I am struggling with not selling out; I don’t want to fall into the trap of exploiting my physically evident transformation, using Instagramable pictures of a thin white girl who used to be twice the size as click bait, when I know I’m here to spread a deeper message. What’s most important about my experience is beyond what you can see, but I still need to be seen.