Good luck scrolling through Instagram without being bombarded by #FITSPO. Accounts populated with sports bra selfies, quickie workouts, and healthy recipes are some of the most followed ones on the internet. The intention is to keep you motivated and on-track with your workouts. But most just cause people to feel empowered to work out for a week or two until they end up feeling guilty for “being the fat disgusting mess” that they are.
I would never call someone a “fat disgusting mess.” I’m simply sharing, word for word, how followers of these accounts refer to themselves.
How would I know? For four years I ran that #fitspo account you love to hate. I was the girl sharing bikini selfies telling you to get exercising! I shared my impossibly hard workout videos and encouraged you to join me.
I built a following of 420,000 people from being that girl.
While being that girl, I received thousands of desperate messages from women referring to themselves as lazy, or useless, or disgusting simply because they couldn’t stick with a fitness routine or diet plan.
These messages were one of the main reasons I decided to stop being that girl.
I traded in ab selfies for makeup-less selfies. I traded in text motivating someone to work out for text motivating someone to love themselves exactly as they are. I started to encourage my fans to accept the shit out of themselves, instead of telling them that they’d’ finally be happy if they worked out and ate well.
With that decision, I lost more than 70,000 followers.
While I can’t know for sure, I think fans abandoned my site because I stopped distracting people from their life and their emotional baggage. I stopped promoting the idea that happiness is a few burpees and 50 pounds away, but I didn’t start promoting eating crap, never working out, or never striving to be better. What I did start saying is that people can be happy exactly as they are. To access this happiness, they simply have to turn inward and connect with themselves. I’m simply encouraging people to dive into the experiences they go through and understand that they’re enough simply because they showed up for life.
But guess what? The idea that “your inability to work out is what’s keeping you from happiness” is a much more favorable belief.
It’s easier to blame your lack of dedication to exercise and clean eating for your unhappiness than it is to accept the fact that deeper issues with your self-esteem maybe be blocking you from your own happiness. It’s not your love for donuts or dislike for squats. It’s simply…your relationship with yourself.
This can be a hard truth to hear. This truth is especially hard to hear through social media, a place we turn to be distracted. We watch hours-worth of cat videos and follow meme accounts. We also distract ourselves with pictures of fit bodies and fuel the belief that we need to be thinner to be deserving of happiness.
By no means is this true for everyone. You can love yourself unconditionally and love memes. That being said, the countless messages I received from women beating themselves up for not being enough of something made it clear we’re allowing these distractions to fuel our lack of love for ourselves.
When I dove into the relationship I had with myself, I saw how disconnected I was. Through the comments sections on my social media channels and my one-on-one workshops, I have come to see that this disconnection is a huge problem in today’s society. When you look at the way we grew up, it makes sense. Children are rewarded when they are good, and punished when they are bad. Through this system people learn to seek reward and avoid punishment—a totally human response. But within this, pieces of the self get lost. This “be better” mentality leads people to believe they need to have a fitter body, a bigger house, a better paying job, or a higher education to be rewarded. It results in the belief that people will never be good enough as they are. It makes it too painful to hear what’s within because there’s a lifetime of never being enough to work through.
Breaking free from limiting beliefs—whether that's never feeling good enough or that your presence isn’t needed—is hard. It’s hard to tune inward, take responsibility for your emotions. It’s difficult to face how you truly feel about yourself.
I understand why I lost so many followers. I stopped being a distraction and I started reminding people of their own dislike for themselves. My makeup-less selfies remind people of their own insecurities regarding their skin. My candid posts about anxiety and depression prompt people to examine their own mental health. My vulnerability with my experiences reminds followers of that time they cried themselves to sleep.
Either that, or people just really don’t like me with a shirt on.
Number of social media followers aside, I want everyone to know how deserving they are of their own love and acceptance. We are good enough exactly as we are. We are smart enough. We are pretty enough. We are successful enough. And yeah, I mean YOU too.