Before-and-after photos are all the rage on Instagram. And usually these "transformation" photos show someone who lost weight or got super-fit. But "progress" doesn't have to mean getting skinny or gaining muscle tone.
For fitness blogger Joanne Encarnacion, it was the opposite. The mother-of-two posted these photos side-by-side on Instagram—one from October 2016 and one current photo, to show herself (and others) that gaining weight and losing muscle does not have to be a "failure":
In the caption, she gave herself—and all of us—an inspiring pep talk about body image and confidence.
"'I am failure for not sticking to consistently training and for not eating as clean as I should have.' This is the story I could be telling myself," she wrote. But instead of turning this opinion "into a fact," she shifted her perspective.
"'Well Jo, you haven't put as much energy into your fitness commitments and IT'S 👌🏾," she told herself. "It doesn't make you less of an example of a strong woman."
Honestly, people—and especially women—don't hear this nearly enough. From themselves or from society.
"Since October of last year you were working on recovering from a shoulder injury, rebuilding a marriage that was close to divorce, raising two young women (including an emotional teenager), creating long lasting friendships with women you once felt unworthy to be around, and most importantly going back to school to start a career in health and life coaching that you've been day dreaming about for almost 2 years. Living a HEALTHY LIFE means nourishing all the areas that make you whole. Your fitness is just a part of that. You're a bad ass Jo and you have what it takes to get your groove back. Other areas in your life needed your energy more than you needed to focus on leaning out."
The chatter in your head will try to find meaning in it because this obstacle is clearly telling you that your dream isn’t supposed to happen. Remind yourself that society has romanticized a concept of what beauty, fitness, and loving yourself looks like. The power to define what beauty means to you is within you. You are the source of your reality. You are the creator of your story.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with losing weight or getting in shape (so you don't have to cancel your gym membership). But this is another important reminder that health and happiness don't have to look a certain way. And sometimes the biggest "transformations" are internal.