We're used to seeing "before-and-after" photos from fitness bloggers that show a heavier, less-toned, and often unhappy version of themselves as the "before," and a thinner, more muscular, and often proud version of themselves as the "after." But this fitness blogger is turning that idea on its tummy.
Joanne Encarnacion, a lifestyle and fitness blogger and nutrition coach, recently posted a photo of herself on Instagram showing the difference between her body on October 2016 and this month, side by side. In the image from March 2017, she looks relatively less fit, but she's got a huge smile on her face. And that's the point.
Instead of feeling like a failure for not sticking to her exercise regimen and a strict clean-eating diet, she using her "after" photo as an example for others to realize they should love their bodies at all sizes.
"I once heard that our reality is largely made up of our perceptions and beliefs, not facts. And that our ideas and theories are based on experiences and opinions, so much so that we start to create stories from these views and judgements. So instead of writing a failure story, I chose to look at this set of progress pictures taken a few days ago and tell myself a different story," Encarnacion captioned the post.
Her point is a good one — we are our own worst enemy. So, instead of beating ourselves up for not eating the right foods or doing the toughest workouts, we can practice self-love and change the failure narrative.
Encarnacion is telling herself that although she hasn't put as much effort into her fitness commitments lately, it's OK. "It doesn't make you less of an example of a strong woman," she tells herself.
She reminds herself that after that "before" photo was taken in October 2016, she put her energy into recovering from a shoulder injury, working on her marriage, raising two young women "including an emotional teenager," developing friendships with women she "once felt unworthy to be around," and going back to school to study health and life coaching.
"Living a HEALTHY LIFE means nourishing all the areas that make you whole. Your fitness is just a part of that. You're a bad ass Jo and you have what it takes to get your groove back. Other areas in your life needed your energy more than you needed to focus on leaning out," she continued.
"The chatter in your head will try to find meaning in it because this obstacle is clearly telling you that your dream isn’t supposed to happen. Remind yourself that society has romanticized a concept of what beauty, fitness, and loving yourself looks like. The power to define what beauty means to you is within you. You are the source of your reality. You are the creator of your story."
Encarnacion's body positive "before-and-after" photo post has resonated with thousands of people who have liked her post. It's filled with hundreds of comments commending her for sharing the photos and her experience.
"Honestly, you're beautiful regardless your transformation," one commenter wrote. "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you look like because you will always be beautiful. You are your own individual and your beauty isn't defined by anyone but yourself. I haven't seen a post like this before and I'm extremely proud of you. Your beauty is defined by ur inner thoughts."
We could all benefit from following Encarnacion's example and being more kind to ourselves. Maybe we'll even start seeing more "before-and-after" photos like hers, that show so much more than just lost weight.
(H/T: Teen Vogue)