If you had spent any time on social media in the last few years, you would have seen a huge trend in the fitness industry: body (and booty) building. And there are thousands of people following it, which is why you can get a so-called booty guide from almost every fitness influencer/model you can find on Instagram. I have to admit that I tried these, as well. And I’m sharing my story here. SPOILER: It had quite an impact on my life.
How it all started
Growing up, I struggled a lot with body dysmorphia. I had gotten out of it for the most part and it was not affecting my life on most days. Never had I thought that I could fall back so hard.
The story probably started three years ago, when a “friend” of mine told me that he didn’t like my bum and that I should do more squats. That was around the time that this whole butt hype started. Because I was kinda passionate about weight-lifting at that time, I thought I might as well give it a go. With that, a year-long journey started.
I bought a guide, I changed my gym and I worked out. And ate the way I should eat. And while I could most definitely feel a difference in my muscles, I just couldn’t see it in the mirror. So I just tried different strategies – no difference. My social media feeds were full of big booties, fitness models and food.
So there I was, looking at all these perfect (photoshopped?) bodies and couldn’t help but wonder: Why doesn’t it work for me? But that was not it. I started to find little things about my body, that I hated. Why can’t my belly be flat? Why can’t my legs be thinner? And my arms, they are huge! I literally spend half a day posing in front of the mirror to maybe discover the bum I was looking for all along. It became an obsession. I would flex different muscle groups in front of the mirror and try different angles, took hundreds of selfies, but in the end, I couldn’t compete with these girls. On some days, I did finally see a change. Which then magically disappeared as soon as I got my camera to take a picture. It was frustrating.
How things got even worse
I started dieting because I now hated my body more and more because it was so “flawed”. And as always, dieting led me to gain more weight than I started with. Also, I always felt incredibly guilty when I missed a work-out because I was too sore. I was miserable. Still always checking Instagram and seeing these girls smile while showing off their bubble butts. It finally got so bad, that I couldn’t look in the mirror anymore. While trying so badly to embrace my body.
Before starting this journey, never had I ever thought this experiment would be so toxic to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are many girls that change their bodies and embrace their appearance and live their perfect lives. I am honestly happy for them! But unfortunately, I was none of them. It took me a long time to get back to normal again.
Looking back, I feel as if I wasn’t myself. I was constantly comparing myself to EVERY SINGLE GIRL I saw online. I became self-conscious and felt unworthy. At first, I posted like a hundred athleisure pictures or belfies on my account. That changed drastically after a few months and I didn’t want to post any pictures anymore. And I wasted so much time and effort in my pursuit to look photoshopped. I could have used this time to learn a new language, paint with watercolors, knit, or whatever, and I would have been a pro by now.
Anyway, this adventure had its positive sides, as well. After I reached my all-time low self-esteem and negative body image, I put a lot of effort into removing all toxicity from my life. I unfollowed at least 200 fitness accounts. Next, I stopped watching their YouTube videos. I quit weight-lifting. And I focused my attention on surrounding myself with positive people. I learned to love my body again because it does incredible work for me, every second of every day. Eventually, I stopped comparing myself to others because I am unique and that is who I am. I decided that I would rather people like me for my character and my humor than for a part of my body. It hasn’t been easy, I still have days where I feel meh and don’t want to leave my apartment. But I have more and more days where I feel fine.
My key to recovery is:
– no dieting. ever. again.
– a whole food plant-based diet
– looking for better role models
I can proudly say, that I’m in a much better place right now than I had been before this whole insanity. It has been a year and I don’t look back. I wouldn’t trade my mental health for a certain look ever again.
This was my story. If you are into bodybuilding and that works with your mental health, I am lucky for you.
Love and light, K.
Stress is a very natural thing – it does occur from time to time and our bodies know how to deal with it. The true difficulty arises when we deal with constant low-level stress, which we often don’t even notice. Or maybe we just underrate it. Long-term stress is absolutely unhealthy for you, it leads to oxidation which makes you age faster, it makes you gain fat and makes your sleep everything but restful.Thankfully, there are ways to cope with stress before we burn out.
Yes, exercise helps with almost everything. But don’t worry – you don’t have to wake up at 5 am to go to the gym if you don’t want to. There are many ways to incorporate more movement into your daily routine. Walk to work (or park your car further away so you get a few more steps in). Take the stairs. Stand up every 30 minutes to improve your circulation. Stretch. Use your break to go for a walk. Walk your dog. Go to a yoga or pilates class. Exercise should never feel like something you HAVE to do. Try new things and find out what feels right for you. Maybe you will find yourself enjoying running, hiking, swimming, rope skipping, dancing, boxing, etc., there are literally hundreds of options available!
2. Find something that makes you feel relaxed
Easier said than done. You will have to put some observation work into this one. Watch yourself and find out what makes you feel less stressed. Does playing with your cat make you forget your stress and feel happy and loved? Or does a warm bath take all your sorrows away? Maybe you prefer a long walk through the forrest to make you feel like you have it all under control? Think about what really helps you calm down. Listen to your body. Maybe all you need is your favorite book and a cup of tea. Or a warm blanket and your favorite movie? Be aware of what you already do to help you release stress. If you haven’t tried any of these things yet, go on and try them! I personally love to go on a bus ride through the city and just look outside the window, it works wonders for me. Finding your holy grail for relaxation is worth the effort, trust me!
The next step is to use it! Whenever you feel stressed, do what helps you! This might seem obvious, but many people know that a hot shower will help them and they still decide to not use them or to turn to ‘easier’ helpers – which we will talk about in a second.
I’m sure you’ve already heard this one a thousand times. But trust me, it works. Make meditation a part of your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be long, ten minutes twice a day are enough. It is really easy to find guided meditations on YouTube, Spotify, etc. or download an app which will help you. Try different types of meditation: silent meditation, guided meditation, chanting, active meditation, and so on. If you don’t like one, that is fine. Just try a different one. After you’ve found your favorite, the key is to make it a habit. Wake up, meditate, go on with your day, meditate before bed, sleep. Or what ever works best for you. Meditation has so many incredible benefits for your mind, body and spirit. Try it!
4. Don’t take the easy way out
Many of us have coping strategies that do not support our health. Yes, chocolate will make us feel good, but chocolate every day for months will make us feel rather bad when we gain weight. Same with alcohol and drugs, which will harm our health in other ways. The difference between the already mentioned strategies and these harmful ones is that food and drugs help us suppress the problem but it doesn’t just go away. Exercise and meditation help you deal with it so that you will learn how to deal with stress and there will be a learning curve so that it will get easier and easier. It is okay to indulge in a delicious brownie once in a while, just be aware it should not be used to distract you from your worries.
5. It’s all about perspective
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to flourish under stressful circumstances while others break down? It is all about how you perceive the situation. You do always have the choice to see a situation as a challenge or as a problem. The latter perspective will cause distress because you feel like you don’t have a choice or that everything is just too much to handle for you. On the other hand side, if you see the situation as a challenge, i.g. an opportunity to show your abilities and to grow, it will cause eustress, which is a positive kind of stress. Even though this shift might seem insignificant, it can make a huge difference. Try it. When your boss gives you a task that might seem too difficult for you – accept the challenge and watch what happens!
These hacks will help you, but don’t forget that you can always ask for help and talk to people. We are only human.
Also, sometimes it might be advisable to rethink your job, your partner, your friends, etc., if they are constantly stressing you and making your life miserable. There is always a way out and who knows what you will find outside of that place that makes you feel so unhappy?