This is a picture of me and my two gorgeous best friends. Clearly, we all have very different body types, and you know what? None of us is healthier, prettier or happier than the others because of it.
That’s me on the left. I’m short, super petite, and have about as much muscle mass as a blob of gelatin. Despite being naturally thin, I have always been far from in shape. Not even a month ago, running two minutes at a time was a struggle—now I can run without stopping for more than a half hour.
Felicia, in the center, is probably the most active girl I know. The opposite of me, she’s one of those people that can build muscle just by looking in the direction of a dumbbell. She loves running like I do, and we’ve discussed running a 5k. She’s a big yoga enthusiast and has tried all sorts of different forms that I can’t pronounce, and she’s found free community yoga classes for us to attend together. Also, she has abs of steel, seriously. She’s helping me with my ab workouts. She’s also recently lost over 60 lbs through her active lifestyle and healthy diet.
That’s my friend Maddy on the right. She’s curvy and feminine, but she’s a beast in the gym. Strength training is her thing. She could probably bench press two of me. Not only is she incredibly strong, she’s insanely flexible and an avid pole dancer. We’re taking classes together even though she can spin circles around me on that damn pole, and look gorgeous while she does it.
My friends inspire me so much, and remind me that diversity is lovely. You don’t have to be skinny to be beautiful and confident, nor do you have to look like girls in Nike ads to be strong and fit. You don’t need to weigh a certain number, fit into a certain size, or have a certain appearance to be confident, healthy, or happy. I think that my friends prove that to me.
I’ll never be long and willowy like a supermodel, or well-built like all those fitspo girls. I’ll never look like either of my friends, and they’ll never look like me. And that’s ok, because fitness is about being the best you can be, not comparing yourself to others.
Embrace what you have, and help others embrace what they have. Fitness is funner with friends. Get them involved. Take a class, go for a walk, make a healthy dinner together. You’ll always have support and a fun activity to bond over.
BodyBuilding.com Transformation Challenge Winner Rachel Flint! What an inspiration!
How she started: “In 2006, I started changing my diet little by little so that I could stick with it and not burn out. Then I started increasing the frequency and intensity of my workouts. I talked to a personal trainer friend who helped me figure out what to do to achieve my goals. I also purchased an online competition prep package…it helped take away some of the guesswork and helped my push through my plateaus. Now I work with a trainer about once a week just to focus on whatever body part is lagging and to ensure I don’t slack!”
Why she loves it: “I LOVE seeing my body change in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. I love the challenge, and seeing friends and family inspired and moved to action by what I am doing. It keeps me on track because I don’t want to let them down. I have dropped three clothing sizes and 1/2 a shoe size! I didn’t even know that was possible!”
“Self-acceptance isn’t about saying “this is me, and I don’t need to change.” That wouldn’t be true. Self-acceptance is about being happy with who you are now and giving yourself space to grow… because you need to grow. I can love my fat ass and say “I’ll work on it,” without thinking that because my ass is fat, I’m somehow less of a woman or I’m “disgusting.” I can “self-accept” the fact that I have a terrible temper… because I’m still growing away from it. I “self-accept” these things and allow myself to still feel and be beautiful in spite of them. Images and visions of other women don’t make me automatically question myself as a woman.
A lot of women seek out weight loss because they think it’ll cure whatever inadequacies they think they have… but if your inadequacies don’t even come from a real session of assessing yourself and accepting who you are? Your “inadequacies” will never be addressed. They probably don’t even exist. Might’ve just been something fed to you – “Here, let me show you how perfect you will NEVER be unless you buy my ab roller/hair dye/makeup/other stupid unnecessary product.”
I can’t say this enough. Don’t buy into it”
This isn’t your typical before and after. This shows me at 98 lbs with exercise bulimia, and at 105 lbs after figuring out how to be healthy. This is the difference between unhealthy and healthy, between hating myself and loving myself, between destroying my body and treating it like a temple. I don’t want anyone to ever look at this picture and think that the before is something to strive for, because trust me, it isn’t.
Wow. Powerful, powerful images.