Hello from Melbourne!
Neg and I are staying in the exact same hotel that I stayed in last year when I traveled to Melbourne, and ironically, it’s almost exactly one year to the date.
So this morning when I woke up, I remembered that last year I took some midsection selfies last year in the Langham bathroom—as one does—and so I popped into the bathroom to take this year’s set, just to see what was up.
Bathroom selfies are an interesting thing.
In fact, we had this exact conversation at the Melbourne meetup tonight when Neghar and I connected with a group of about 10 fitness pros. I always tend to gravitate to talking business and the meetup was no different. The gals (and guy—Hi, Luke!) who showed up to hang out asked about online biz, how to grow their platforms, we talked certifications and who’s doing what in the fitness industry.
And then the topic of “morning abs” came up and we all kind of had a laugh about people whose entire Instagram feed is photos of their ripped midsections, day after day, captioned #MorningAbsCheck, ironically after I had just taken my first bathroom selfie in months just this morning. Loooololol.
The thing is, for people who’re in the physique word, like I was, doing competitions and fitness modeling, there is a real fear that not presenting an image of leanness 24/7 will somehow discredit you. There’s this incessant need to prove that you are worthy. Worthy to be a coach, a personal trainer, worthy of the kind of platform you have built (many of these “Instafamous” accounts have hundreds of thousands of fans who aspire to look just like them) and worthy of … well, worth.
I totally get that, and for the last 5 years (my last professional modeling job was in 2011), I have fought the same kind of compulsion. Especially because I came up in the “look at me” age when MySpace was the big thing, and the first real way that people were able to shameless showoff how fit and lean they were for a large audience, online.
In fact, for years I would only share professional photos. If I was “dieting down” I’d share those pics because only then I deemed my body worthy enough for exposure.
That was until 2012, when my business started talking more mindset, less fat loss.
And at that same time, I had conversation with my friend Lori Harder. She said something to me that struck me: “I always post photos of myself whenever and never worry about other people posting any photos of me because I want people to know how I look day to day so that when they meet me in person, the recognize me.”
This made me LOL because it’s so true.
I used to work the booth at The Arnold Classic and you’d meet a fitness model you looked up to, or saw in Oxygen magazine, only to literally not recognize them in their off season. They’d never post non-professional, #nofilter images, just like I wasn’t!
And I’m certainly not judging weight fluctuation—the dieting game perpetuates it and I gained and lost the same 20 lbs multiple times a year for years—but what I am questioning is the fact that we were doing people a disservice but not showing up authentically and true to who we are, whether we are “leaned out” or not. Who gives a shit.
But the struggle—of maintaining the illusion of what you think other people are expecting of you—is real.
My strategy over the last 5 years has been to just show up as-is and let the chips fall. If someone doesn’t value what I have to teach because I am not 12% body fat in every photo, then honestly that’s not someone I want reading my stuff anyway. It’s not my tribe. Not my vibe.
And honestly, I like my body better now at 155 lbs and 20% body fat than I ever did at 140 and 12%! I feel a thousand times sexier, happier and life is enjoyable again. No more #ZombieStatus.
And so, I don’t post nearly as many abs selfies as I used to.
But to me, it’s important—moreso for myself than anyone else—that I practice what I preach, which is #moderation365. Theoretically, if I am eating the same year round, I should look the same year after year, right? I’ll be maintaining effortlessly, enjoyably and effectively.
Anyway, February 2015 to February 2016 show exactly that. I literally look the exact same.
Which is in my integrity, for what I teach—no drastic ups and downs in eating, which equals no drastic ups and downs in weight. I am no longer talking about fat loss constantly, I am not telling people they need to be shredded, I am working to help women feel less shameful and less stressed about their eating. And actually like how they exercise and what they put in their mouths. Period.
Here’s my #maintain365 approach (unfiltered), Feb 2015 to Feb 2016:
I even enjoyed a couple glasses of wine with the Melbourne meetup peeps, to which one gal remarked, “It is so refreshing to be around fitness professionals who are normal and drink wine!” Lol.
I loved that. Because look, we all need nutritional relief. We aren’t robots. And we aren’t perfect. No one is. And pretending we are is doing everyone a disservice.
Authenticity is the new perfect.
Show up as is, and let your true expression serve as permission for others to do the same. Because aint nobody got time for keeping up the illusion of perfection. It’s a lie anyway.
Do your best, show yourself some compassion and appreciate your unique journey. And love yourself through all of it. Xo, Jill