Is it really Thursday without a #transformationthursday Instagram post???
I know you look at them. Heck, I look at them too. Every Thursday, those inspirational “can you imagine how much muscle I gained and weight I lost after I started eating vegetables and working out at the gym?!” posts are on a never ending loop on my IG feed. Whatever logarithm that dictates what “trending” shots should pop up on my phone must know how much of a sucker I am for “liking” the following:
- Any and all food pics (overhead shots with backlighting are awesome, by the way)
- Adorable videos of babies taking their first steps
- And of course, transformation pictures of ordinary, everyday citizens (the overworked and tired mother, the office worker addicted to M&Ms and Netflix) suddenly morphed and molded into burly, muscle-rippling athletes.
I know that many of the six-pack abs paraded on these posts are photoshopped, or the model angling her svelte body is doing so while majorly sucking in her stomach and flexing her thigh muscles to show off the striations in her leg. I get it. Many of these “ideals” are less than because they are falsified, and as a result, I SHOULD scroll right on past them. But I don’t. Why not? Well, I admire these folk. Yes, admire. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t long for the same gluteus maximus as the gal on IG or big biceps like the guy on Facebook. What I do admire are these individuals’ confidence, their abilities to put their bodies out there on the interwebs, not knowing what types of comments will be made about their physique yet still daring to bare themselves for all of social media to witness.
Those Transformation Thursday posters are actually pretty brave. Seeing their sweet grins and taunt muscles makes me question my own confidence, my own inner strength, my own body positivity. It is quite apparent that they are posting for themselves and not to appease any one particular person. They are proud of the work they put into losing weight or changing their sedentary lifestyle and want to share their accomplishments with others. And that is awesome.
And then I start to think about my own posts. I filter what I share quite a bit. I am quite proud of my lovely children, my work as an English teacher, and my weightlifting gains, yet it sometimes feels almost scandalous to truly post how truly proud I am for all of those things. I don’t want others to think I’m bragging or gloating. I know not everyone is blessed with such an awesome family and work environment and physical strength.
And so I filter. I downplay how happy I really am to PR a snatch or clean and jerk. I use cute emojis to show that I love my children, when in reality, words can’t really express the amount of obscene joy they bring to my heart.
This morning as I scrolled through my IG feed, I realized just how absurd it was to be afraid to share my own victories, my own blessings, my own transformation. If I truly didn’t care about others’ views of me, why NOT share with others the wonderful work God is doing in me? And so, feeling a sudden surge of bravery, I thought I’d put up a Transformation post as well.
This is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.
It’s scary for a multitude of reasons. I am going to post a transformation picture that I haven’t shared with many people. Why? Well, it’s because these transformation pictures are really progress photos I send to my RP coach, one tool of evidence among many other criteria he uses when determining my nutrition and training plans. I am not a bodybuilder, and you can tell right off the bat because I have no idea how to flex or how to apply self-tanner. I don’t normally show off my stomach so blatantly. Most days (unless I’m at the beach or pool and am wearing a two-piece swimsuit), my mid section rarely sees the little of day. Recently I have taken off my shirt in the gym and finished up training in my sports bra because I was sweating so profusely, I could smell myself in the cotton fibers. Yuck. But in reality, I am a pretty modest gal.
Also, I really don’t think my body is a reflection of me, meaning yes, I am thankful for the legs and arms and torso and head and appendages God has blessed me with, but I don’t think of those parts as the end all be all. There is my spirit and talent and giftings that one can’t see if he were to only view my abs via Instagram. I am more than a body part, and I would hate for some random person to think that all I’m concerned about is the size of my thighs.
In truth, all I’m doing is being open, vulnerable, and real about where I am in my training journey. And while I love sharing my journey of life with you, being that transparent means I am baring my shortcomings, my struggles, and eventually, my growth. The journey is long. It is arduous. It is full of ups and downs, never linear. Somedays the journey is a walk in the clouds, while other days I feel like I’m walking on hot coals. I am not always confident where this journey is going, and as a result, that hesitancy made me question whether or no to post about it.
But I realized that if God is really wanting me to be His light and share what He is doing in my life, I need to be open about my journey. Doing so is a part of me and my ongoing transformation.
So here it is.
The first photo on the top was before I started working with Coach Alex. For those of you that have previously read my other posts, you know that I dealt with a anorexia in high school and my early twenties. I had dabbled in every and any type of diet imaginable thereafter, attempting to find “the one” that would help me feel, well, secure in my body. Intermittent Fasting. Low Carb. High Carb. Paleo. Zone. IIFYM. Pure macro counting. No macro counting. At the start of 2018 I made the switch back to being vegan, but I felt hungry and unsatisfied and troubled and overwhelmed with what and when and how to eat. I knew being vegan wasn’t really the way for me although I loved (and still do love) animals. It’s odd, but I felt like I needed to be the “right” kind of plant-based follower and adhere to a random set of food rules: eat my chia seed pudding and flax seed daily, refuse Oreos because they are too highly processed, and turn my nose at Boca burgers because too much soy is bad. These were ideas I believed in and felt great remorse and guilt if I didn’t follow. I had these unbelievable expectations on how to do veganism “right”, and all of those aims and goals led me to feeling constricted and in a prison.
Don’t get me wrong–some people can thrive on plant-based foods and that is awesome. In fact, my husband is one of them. I have many friends who choose leaf over meat and I applaud them for their choices. But the difference between them and me is that I was in a prison and they are not. Mind you, it was a prison steeped in whole foods and grains, but it was a prison nonetheless.
All I wanted was to feel free again. To be happy again. One of the reasons why I started this blog was because I felt a great sense of joy and freedom after turning over all trust to God in all areas of my life. And sadly, I was losing it.
But praise God, I was able to recapture the joy. I was able to stop the downward spiral to anxiety and worry and obsession and find true freedom once again. The transformation, the journey is never linear, never straight, never like one expects.
How did I find that freedom again? How did my path make a complete u-turn to freedom? How did I go from the girl in the top photos to the girl in the bottom photos?
Stay tuned for Part 2 and the next blog post!