In our new Realtalk Fitness series, we're sharing the realities of being in the fitness industry today. We know it takes a lot of effort to create a lasting career with a steady following, and we want to shed light on what it’s really like.

I’m one of those girls you see in images posted, pinned and shared round the worldwide web and hashtagged #perfect.

Sure, my abs have definition and I have 355K followers on social media, but neither of those things stopped me from crying myself to sleep the other night.
 

Sure, my abs have definition and I have 355K followers on social media, but neither of those things stopped me from crying myself to sleep the other night. Thousands of followers and a fit body doesn't help me handle the stress of working too hard or wanting to please everyone, all of the time.

As a teenager, I had a slender body, but it was never good enough. I formed harmful, unhealthy behaviors, like self harm and disordered eating. I developed negative thought patterns and self talk during this stage of my life. I would look in the mirror and hate what I saw every single day. I've come a long way to get to the happy place I am today, thanks to several mentors, though there are days I still engage with the nasty dialogue in my head.

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The girls and women of Instagram, Tumblr and fashion show runways all have their struggles and crappy days.
 

What I've learned is that happiness is a choice. One that is totally and completely ours to make. For years, I blamed others for my unhappiness. I blamed the girls at school who didn't like me, the boys who broke my heart, and the Victoria's Secret models for their enviable bodies.

What I understand now is that my happiness depends on me. Happiness is waking up each morning and taking care of my body through exercise, nutrition, and allowing love in. It’s the laughter I allow in my day and spending time with people I love. It’s satisfaction doing the things I love and being content even in the moments when I'm doing absolutely nothing.

Happiness isn’t constant. I have my share of good days — along with a few terrible ones. Every now and then all I need is a good cry, home alone, and snuggled up with my puppy, Rio.

When strangers repost my photos with captions that they “wish they had [my] life,” I wish they knew about my late night weep sessions. I don't think they're wishing for those.

Today, my hope is to start telling a deeper story — the ebbs and flows of reality that you can't always see from my Instagram feed. The girls and women of Instagram, Tumblr, and runways all have their struggles and crappy days. In the end, their appearance, and mine has nothing to do with happiness.

For more on our Realtalk: Fitness series, check out these stories:

Photo credit : courtesy of the author


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