I was the type of girl who tried every diet on the market today. Low-fat, low-carb, diet pills — you name it, I tried it. Sometimes I would lose weight, but I ultimately gained it all back after I stopped whatever quick-fix scheme I was on.
I was an emotional eater and hated the way I looked. I used to get ready in the dark, never looked in mirrors and wore really baggy clothes to hide what I was ashamed of most — my body. One day, I finally looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize who was looking back at me. I couldn’t believe I had let myself get to this point. I knew I had to do something.
In October 2014, I found an online trainer and bought one of her programs for $50. I thought to myself, if it doesn’t work, it’s only $50. No big deal. Part of the program required taking and sending in "before" photos. It was one of the hardest, most embarrassing moments of my life. I stared at those pictures and bawled my eyes out.
Seeing those before photos was a big kick in the butt — but I knew I’d need a little extra support, which is why I turned to social media. Here are a few reasons how Facebook and Instagram helped me zero in on my goal to get healthy, for real this time:
1. Announcing my fitness and weight-loss goals on social media helped me hold myself accountable.
I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else that I could do this. Everyone around me called me lazy. They didn’t think I could do it. I wanted to show them that they were wrong, so I shared on Facebook and Instagram that I was starting a new workout program. I was nervous to make the official “announcement” post, but I knew it would encourage me to post daily updates about my progress.
And it did! Every other day I would post a picture of myself at the gym so I wouldn’t be tempted to fall off of the wagon. It became part of my daily routine — just like my workouts did, and if I didn’t post a photo, I felt like I was letting everyone down.
2. My Facebook friends and Instagram followers were like my own personal cheerleaders.
Since I started sharing my photos, my friends and people I didn’t even know would comment on them telling me I was an inspiration to them. They would say “Way to go!” or “Keep up the good work!” It felt good. It felt rewarding. It helped me to stay focused on my goal.
Some people would message me for advice on how they could get started down a similar path. I felt like I was helping others by posting these pictures of myself at the gym or the before-and-after shots of my transformation. I wanted to show everyone that even someone like me, who wasn’t very healthy to begin with, can do it!
3. The photos I shared helped me to see my progress — instead of just focusing on a number on the scale.
Over time, I could scroll through my pictures on Facebook or Instagram and see how I was looking fitter and stronger. Sometimes the scale can feel like the enemy. When it wasn’t budging, I would take a photo of myself and compare it to the picture I posted at the beginning of my weight-loss journey. It always made me feel better – I could actually see a difference.
4. On days when I slipped and ate something unhealthy or skipped a workout — my friends and followers made me feel better.
There were times when I felt defeated, ashamed and let down — and I shared these feelings on my social media accounts. People would comment and reassure me that it’s okay to take a day off, or indulge in unhealthy cravings every once in while. They reminded me that we’re all human, and you can always restart tomorrow.
I have lost 23 pounds and I can finally look into the mirror and smile back at my reflection. I can be happy with my body and know that I did it the right way. I changed the way I eat (but I still let myself enjoy food at the same time) and I work out between five and six times a week. I wake up in the morning thinking about when I will fit the gym into my schedule — not wondering what I will eat that day. Social media has made it possible to share my story and prove to myself that I can do this!
Photos courtesy of the author