So here’s a secret. I really do not enjoy before and after pictures of myself all that much. I even wrote a post about why once upon a time when I was blogging over on another platform.
Before and after pictures have their place, but I also think that they ca be deceiving, don’t tell the whole story, and that, in my case, and so many others, there is way more going on behind the scenes than two side by side pictures can show.
So, after that little intro, you may be wondering why the featured image for this post appears to be a before and after shot of yours truly (for context, pictures are from December 2013 and March 2017, respectively). Hear me out!
For most of my teenage and adult life, if being honest, I would have told you that all I wanted was to be skinny. I was totally insecure about my body, constantly putting myself, and just totally embarrassed and sick of being the “big girl” in the group. Almost the only reason I worked out was in hopes of looking a certain way, and it certainly wasn’t something I looked forward to or enjoyed AT ALL.
Fast forward a couple of years. I found a workout that I totally love (CrossFit), and made some changes to my diet along with my newfound hobby, and managed to lose some weight. It’s been just under two years since reaching what I called my “goal weight,” and I can honestly say that those two years have been the best I’ve felt about the way I looked in, well, basically ever.
To have a body that is strong and capable of doing what you love is AMAZING. Pushing yourself beyond what you think possible is so empowering. Knowing that you have put in the hard work to build the body that gets you there is a pretty incredible feeling. And from an aesthetic perspective, I won’t lie – I really true love the way I look.
“Skinny” has become less and less of a goal/desirable trait/word I use. Strength is a priority; and, I know this is in large part due to the bias of people I now hang out with/fill my Instagram feed, but I find muscles and more “built” bodies (both male and female) much more attractive than the thin ideal I previously desired.
But the story is still not over (see – I told you before and afters don’t say it all).
Since reaching that ideal weight; over the last few months I’ve dropped a bit more, due to further changes in my diet (macro counting – but that’s a whole other story). I’ve also experienced some health challenges and setbacks. Nothing life-threatening, and I’ll spare all the details, but for the last 6-8months, things have been off. I’ve been sick way more than usual, more tired, and I’ve noticed my performance in the gym take a hit.
Again, it’s not been huge, but currently I truly don’t feel as strong as I used to. Workouts that I know should be hard and leave me tired and sometimes feeling utterly exhausted. Hitting numbers on a lift that should be relatively easy are becoming a struggle. This has lead to my self-confidence and mental game taking a serious hit.
But who cares? I look great, right? The old Hilary would have been thrilled to be at this “skinny” ideal, and didn’t really enjoy any sort of sport enough to care about being good at it or or not. I got the body I wanted, and that’s the end goal, so happiness should follow. I can enjoy how I look now and live happily ever after…
Funny thing is, now that the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, I’m realizing that being strong is more fun than being skinny. Don’t get me wrong – I love the way I look now, and don’t really want to go back. This post isn’t meant as a humble brag, or to make you worry or feel bad for me.
I guess it’s one of those “grass is always greener” messages… but also a tale of personal growth. Again, I’m not denying that appearance-wise, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. But I’m realizing that physical appearance is only a piece of the puzzle, and in reality, what is more valuable is what I can do.
So where do I go from here? I’m not really sure. I guess I just do what I’ve always done in one way or another…keep putting one foot in front of the other. Keep my head in the game. Show up, even when I don’t feel like it or the results I get aren’t what I’ve hoped for. Enjoy what I’ve got, keep working for what I want, and be gracious and kind to myself when the frustration takes over (that last one is the hardest for me).
And for every before and after picture you see…applaud your friend (or random person you’re insta-following). But don’t be jealous of them. And more importantly, don’t be afraid to ask them how they are, beyond what those hot photos may lead you to believe. I can almost guarantee that there’s more going on than you know.