Years ago I followed tons of other women on social media - specifically other women who looked great. Like they could be on the cover of a magazine. They had abs. They were lean AF. And appeared to have the perfect life. I'm pretty sure most of them were figure or bikini competitors if I remember correctly. Who knows...it doesn't really matter. The point is, I followed them because they had awesome bodies. They looked fucking good. And I wanted to look that good too. So I followed them for inspiration.
But it turns out they actually didn't inspire me at all. Looking at their pictures made me feel like shit about myself. I loathed their fucking meal prep pictures. Looking at their bikini pictures caused me to think thoughts like 'I'll never look like that.' And instead of feeling motivated to go to the gym, I felt motivated to shove my face into a bag of cookies.
Motivational quotes and "bikini body" workouts brought up self-resentment and disappointment instead of motivation and inspiration. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't tell you a single one of those women's names today because that's how little I was actually inspired by what they were posting. I was too busy comparing myself to them to be inspired.
Let me be clear for a second - if you want to post pictures of yourself in a bikini, half nude, or even fully nude, go for it. Flaunt that shit. If you want to post motivational content, please do. I'm not saying it was these women's fault for how I felt; what I'm saying is that for me, looking at their Instagram feeds stirred up negative feelings within myself, that solely had to do with ME, not with them.
So I stopped following them. Every single one.
And I began to follow women who were focused more on self-acceptance and self-love instead of chasing the ideal body. I began to follow women who were focused on strength and what their body was capable of instead of strictly what it looked like. I started following women who ate 'moderately' and didn't meal prep every single thing they ate. I stopped following women who posted workouts to lose weight and shrink and instead followed women who focused on shifting your mindset and loving the body you're in. And those women inspired me. They influenced the way I thought, and continue to think today, about nutrition and training.
I began to change the way I trained. I stopped searching for some magic "trick" that would change the way I thought about my body and help me instantly lose 25 pounds. I stopped thinking I had to follow a strict exercise routine and diet in order to love myself. Slowly, I started to appreciate the body I was in and what it could do. I started to accept my body.
I don't think I'm the only one who has experienced this. We live in a society where we are constantly told as women to lose weight and look better. We're sold programs to "shrink." It's ingrained in our minds to compare ourselves to other women and to idealize women with perfect bodies. It's become second nature to talk badly about ourselves. We're constantly saying things like "her body is my dream body" or " I want her legs." But what about our own bodies that do so much for us? What about loving the skin we're in? When and why did it become 'wrong' for us to say things like "fuck yeah I look good"?
Flash forward a couple of years.
As I started to dive deeper into the sport of powerlifting, I began to follow other female powerlifting athletes on Instagram. And the same issues started to come up for me. I'd look at other women and compare my athletic performance to theirs. I'd be jealous of their strength, and start to think I wasn't strong enough and would think to myself, 'why bother competing?' I started to think I needed to lose weight in order to compete in a lighter weight class or else there was no point.
This time around I was able to recognize these thoughts and feelings quicker. And again, I unfollowed all of the women I compared myself too. And again, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with them, and EVERYTHING to do with me. But unfollowing them gave me a chance to focus on WHY I was feeling that way and dig into the reasons behind those feelings.
It was my insecurities and lack of self-worth that lead me to feel this way. It was my personal issues that caused me to compare myself to other women on the internet, and question my worthiness. I dug deeper. Why was what these women were posting negatively effecting me? Why was I jealous of their strength, instead of using it as inspiration?
The answers to those questions are for another blog post (or 2 or 3 or 10 LOL). But the point is, we have choices.
We can continue to feel jealously, resentment and self-hatred. Or we can choose to step back and evaluate those feelings (and maybe unfollow a few people on social media while doing so...). WHY are we feeling this way? WHY is looking at these other women's social media accounts bringing up these feelings? And perhaps more importantly, HOW can we work through these feelings and start feeling better about ourselves? And HOW can we surround ourselves with others who inspire us and motivate us to love the skin we're in?
Next time you're scrolling through social media and start to feel jealous or insecure, instead of continuing to scroll and think negative thoughts about yourself, I urge you to stop. Stop scrolling, and ask yourself the questions above. Maybe it's time you go through your "following" list and say goodbye to the accounts that make you feel like you're not good enough.
Think about it - and if you're interested in diving deeper into healing your relationship with food and your body image, I'm opening up an eight week online program next month that will address both of these topics (and include tons of action steps to find the WHY behind your thoughts and feelings). You can get on the waitlist here.