Hello, Fitspo: 5 Fitness Instagram Accounts That Will Get You Moving IRL

Originally Published On 20Some.com

Jumping into a new year is typically centered around dieting, getting back into a fitness routine, and obsessing over the “fitspo” filling our social media feeds on a daily basis. We set unrealistic goals for ourselves, end up falling back into that pizza box face first, and start the cycle all over again.

But what if we could take one positive step this new year toward our fitness goals? What if that one step was as easy as unfollowing and following people on your Instagram? Although it won’t help you lose 10 pounds in a week (because who wants to do that anyways?), it may help bring a more positive and healthier outlook to your fitness and nutrition journey.

I used to follow a million different random accounts on my Instagram that posted pictures idolizing girls half naked with shredded abs, a thigh gap, and whatever else was ‘fit goals’ at the time. However, I slowly realized that I was never going to look like those girls, and that was okay. I purged my account of all ‘fitspo’ accounts and decided to follow real people with real stories, real struggles, realistic fitness goals that can actually inspire me to hit the gym and be a better person.

I’ve put together a list (in no specific order) of my favorite fitness Instagram accounts. These are real women, with amazing stories that they are willing to share, and that don’t promote unrealistic fitness goals.

1. @getfitbrooklyn aka Chinae

Chinae is someone that was always tagged in a lot of posts by people I had already followed. When I finally checked out her page, I was immediately drawn to her. She is a Brooklyn-based event planner, Adidas ambassador, and shares nothing but authentic posts on her social media (along with the fact that her makeup is on point). She posts her transformation pictures with advice that let’s you know there is no quick fix to losing weight, but only your determination to do so. Chinae helps others find their “inner badass” through her social media, real life advice and fitness. Follow her and add some fit-spiration (as well as lifestyle inspo) to your daily Instagram feed.

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2. @lauren_bongiorno aka Lauren

Lauren is a 20something health coach and yoga instructor who shares her insights on the mind and body that really get you thinking. Lauren is someone that I have been lucky enough to meet, so I can tell you first hand that the person you see on social media is the same person you see in real life. Her positivity is contagious, and her yoga moves will make you want to get on that mat and keep practicing. As a type1 diabetic herself, Lauren has learned to take her knowledge of this, and help others dealing with diabetes maintain a healthy lifestyle. But most importantly, what she posts will not only give you the inspiration you need for your fitness life, but also give you motivation to work out your mind as well.

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3. @nicolewinhoffer aka Nicole

Nicole is the girl behind NW Method which “blends art, science, music, and sports to calm the mind, transform the body, and free the soul” (and incorporates dope beats and dance moves). You’ll notice how free and confident of a person Nicole is while scrolling through her Instagram. She has photos of her in a leotard posing with an amazing dance pose, to videos of her classes (which look like they would kick my ass) that all include never ending inspirational captions. She emanates confidence with a splash of sexy, and makes me feel like with curves, or no curves, abs or no abs, I’m beautiful. If you’re in the NYC area, she offers classes at The Standard, so go get moving!

4. @reviejane aka Revie Schulz

As a crossfit lover, I’ve followed Revie Schulz for quite some time. She is an Australian-based Crossfit gym owner (Crossfit Babes Miami an all women’s crossfit gym in Australia). She is a 20something business owner, fitness enthusiast and new mom. Although you may think she’s not relatable because you’re not a new parent, think again. The authenticity that Revie shows on her Instagram about going from being able to lift a lot of weight and feeling great about her body, to feeling completely unsure after her pregnancy is so refreshing. She makes you realize that whether you just had a child or not, you can always bounce back with hard work and dedication, and a really positive mindset.

Okay, so, MASSIVE rant/ chat to my snapchat fam today (reviejane) on positive body image and how to embrace our bodies. Im sorry if that went for ages but in conclusion, here is my message. ? It’s okay to be in shock, that is normal. 90% of the time on social media, we don't see the shit part after you’ve had a baby where you still look around 7 months pregnant and your belly replicates the same texture of a whoppee cushion. ? Be proactive with your physical and mental health. It’s a huge challenge, trying to be the best mum possible and learn the ropes of motherhood WHILE also honoring your body. Its one huge juggling act and if you feel totally inadequate at it, don’t stress, most of us do! Start small, e.g. 3-4 walks per week, meal prep your dinners every weekend. Be gentle with yourself and implement fun, active activities that will get your body moving and endorphins pumping! ? Postive affirmations. You know what you don't hear often? A woman saying “I LOVE my body, it's amazing!” which is silly- we should be saying that every damn day, because we are all effing amazing! For atleast a month, look in the mirror and say something you LIKE about your body instead of picking on that pimple or that you hate your nose or that you wish you had smaller hips. It may just change your perspective and therefore your life. ? Lastly, hold that baby of yours. Look at the perfection that YOU created in that very body of yours. You. Created. Life. You are magnificent. And you should love yourself for that, let alone everything else that makes you beautiful. #BodyLove #Postpartum

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5. @mynameisjessamyn aka Jessamyn Stanley

Jessamyn is a body positive, yogi, f-bomb dropper, real AF girl who teaches yoga with Cody App and is someone you need to follow right now. I started following Jessamyn after I saw her feature with Refinery29 this past summer, and was immediately inspired by her attitude about her body, fitness, and life in general. She describes her body as powerful.

“It has overcome so many odds that I never thought it could, physical and emotional,” Jessamyn said.

If you’re looking for that body positivity you’ve been lacking in 2016, it’s time to follow Jessamyn’s Instagram.

I didn't come to yoga with a lot of natural flexibility or strength. I've always been curvy, and I've been sensitive about my body size since childhood. When I started practicing yoga, I would intimidate myself into thinking certain asana would always be completely out of my reach. I assumed that fat people have limits. I didn't understand the power of progress. I didn't understand that progress takes time. Our society thrives on impatience, and it's easy to convince ourselves of inadequacy when we don't see immediate results. I think my Instagram presence can make that internal battle seem like it's in my rearview window, but that's completely off base. Self-hate and self loathing are addictions like anything else, and stepping away from those vices means entering a permanent state of recovery. I am a self-hate addict- it didn't magically go away when I started practicing advanced asana. But those struggles shouldn't be covered up or swept under the rug. At the end of the day, those struggles are really what make us made for yoga. The practice doesn't exist to inflate egos. Legit, my ego has NEVER served me- if anything, it's consistently inhibited my capacity for happiness. I don't want to live under the shadow of my childish ego forever. That's why I keep showing up on my mat-because unpacking all this bullshit is the only work that actually matters. I love working with my #partner @mandukayoga- in fact, the ballet style leggings I wore in @glamourmag are by Manduka. In a universe where plenty of yoga brands couldn't care less about showcasing a diverse yoga community, Manduka is actually out here trying to make progress. I chatted with the design team this past winter, and I expressed my concern about their limited sizing options. Some of us can't even wink at a size Large, ya dig? The team was very receptive, and I'm looking forward to a size expansion soon. I'm just glad they give a fuck, honestly- and it's time for everyone else to wake up, too.

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Let's Talk Negative Body Image With Ledbetter Coach Annika Swanson

Body image is something I never used to care about. When I was in middle school chowing down on my cosmic brownies and mac & cheese, I put zero thought into what my body looked like in the mirror or to others. I played sports, I ate whatever I wanted, and that was that.

It wasn’t until I hit high school that dieting, body image, working out, and obsessing over all of the above really hit me. The group of people I surrounded myself with definitely didn’t help matters, and when I broached the subject of wanting to lose weight, I received negative comments that in so many words told me I should. From there, it spiraled. I never went to extreme measures like not eating or anything serious, but the mentality I had about my body every day mine as well be considered ‘extreme’. I obsessed to no end, thought I always looked ‘fat’, and constantly had friends who were counting calories to make me feel even more self conscious. 

Eventually I just considered my negative body image normal. Now looking back, especially at pictures from high school, I realize that I was nowhere near overweight. And yet, I wasted so much energy focusing on ripping my body apart in front of the mirror. This trend escalated throughout college, until I found weightlifting and crossfit. I felt more in control of my body, and started to spend less time worrying about every roll, every bit of cellulite I found. 

Since then, I have gone through a lot. Mentally, physically, emotionally-I’m a different person. And with stress, change, and moving I felt all of my negative body image issues flooding back.

Luckily, around the same time I found Ledbetter as well as my coach Annika Swanson. Annika and the Ledbetter team pride themselves on losing or gaining weight in a healthy way. A way that will lead you to ‘live every day better’. I was placed with Annika, and knew right off the bat that she was the right coach for me. She was patient when I felt like failing, she encouraged me when I needed it most (and I haven’t even met her in real life), and although I’m not looking in the mirror saying ‘I LOVE MY BODY’, I feel like I am so much closer to that point because of her. I’ve never seen Annika preach anything that she hasn’t tried or been through herself. So, I knew that she was the perfect person to interview about negative body image and overcoming it all.

Stepping away from body shaming ourselves, especially as women, is by no means easy. No matter what stage in the game you’re in, it’s a constant battle to just be happy with who you are in every stage of your fitness journey and life overall. 

It has obviously been something that I have struggled with myself, and I imagine many of your reading this as well.

So if you’re anything like me and are catching yourself saying one too many negative things about your body, keep reading to see what Annika has to say.


What would you say, looking back, triggered your own body image issues? 

My body image issues initially started when I began prepping for my first (and only) bikini competition two years ago. This was the first time that I ever made a conscious effort to look a certain way, according to someone else’s standards. It was also the first time that the idea of being “tight and tiny” became ideal, and from then on I felt I could never be small enough.

What comes to mind when you think of a ‘negative body image’?

When I think of a negative body image, the first thing I think of is picking oneself apart in the mirror. Seeing all the “flaws” in one’s body rather than appreciating it and loving it for what it is and what it can do. I would also consider it a persisting feeling of not being “enough” – lean enough, skinny enough, muscular enough, strong enough, or never feeling happy about your current appearance.

Did you ever go to extremes because your negative body image/perception of yourself took over (i.e not eating, not eating enough, excessive workouts, binge eating, etc.)

When I prepped for a bikini competition a few years ago, I was on an extremely restrictive diet with excessive cardio compared to what my body actually needed. I had no knowledge of proper training or healthy nutrition at the time. As a result of this, I was obsessed with strictly sticking to my diet to a “T.” If I had a small slip up or treat, I completely lost it mentally and emotionally. This resulted in binging on things like chocolate and peanut butter. Any time my anxiety or stress was high, it resulted in binge eating.

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What was competing on stage like for you? Did it have a negative impact on your body image because you had to maintain a certain figure?

Competing on stage was a very nerve racking and negative experience for me. This was partially because my coach at the time had not taught me a posing routine (only set poses), along with “first time” nerves, but it was also the first time I intentionally subjected myself to being judged and critiqued by someone else. I personally did not feel that the stage, particularly in the bikini division was the right place for me. I personally didn’t feel comfortable subjecting myself to intentional judgement like that, and the feeling of being judged carried over into my day to day life as well. This experience is different for everyone, so my experience won’t be the same as others’. 

Was there any specific moment where you said ‘enough is enough, I can’t keep hating on my body’? 

A few months after that show, I felt very insecure in my body, particularly after gaining weight post show. I had no idea how to achieve my fitness goals though. That summer, I took the leap and signed up for a self guided Ledbetter Inc. Reverse Dieting Program. I told myself I would do everything I possibly could to achieve a body I could feel confident in, and to eventually love myself and find confidence again through that process.

How has coaching helped your personal battle with body image or body shaming?

It’s always easier to provide a fresh perspective to others than it is to apply that same perspective to ourselves. Coaching has allowed me to apply the develop the objective, healthy perspective I  have towards others, and learn to apply it to myself. 

What has helped you maintain a positive outlook on your body?

The most important thing that helped me create and sustain a positive outlook on my body was shifting my focus from losing weight, to building muscle and strength. This went in phases and did not happen overnight, but by focusing on things other than ab definition, I have been able to see my body progress in new ways. When I switched my focus to getting physically stronger and healthier, my mindset became stronger too and positive physical changes happened almost as a side effective. 

Would you say your negative perception of your body affected your relationships with others, and has that changed now that you are in a different mental space about your body?

When it was something I actively struggled with, my negative body image definitely affected my relationship with others. I was obsessive about eating and just in general had a negative outlook on life- which stemmed partly from not feeling inherently good about myself. Now that I am in a different mental space about my body, this has definitely changed. I’m no longer obsessive about eating, and I make a point not to let those obsessive food habits creep into time with my loved ones. This results in me being more present in the moment- not fearing that I’ll get “fat” from what I’m eating, and not obsessing over tracking my macros to the exact gram, either. I have some days when I feel great physically, and some days when I feel not so great. On the days when I don’t feel so great, I have had to make a conscious effort not to let that negative body image create an entirely negative day. I swore to myself I would never allow what I saw in the mirror to dictate my happiness again, as long as I was living a healthy lifestyle. Instead, I focus on what changes I can make to my habits and routine to feel better not only physically, but mentally. 

How has social media impacted your body image (negatively or positively!)?

Social media can be a slippery slope. There is a lot of potential to create a negative impact on one’s self image based on what we see on social media. I have fallen into the comparison trap – comparing myself to images on social media and feeling inadequate because I wasn’t as lean or muscular as those people. When that happens though, I’ve learned to shift my focus to myself and what I love about myself, not what I feel I’m lacking. In the positive sense, I have been able to connect with many other young women out there who are empowering themselves through a healthy lifestyle, which has not only been encouraging but refreshing to see.

How do you handle people leaving negative comments on your more vulnerable pictures on Instagram? 

Anytime someone leaves a negative comment it’s extremely important to remember that it almost always stems from their insecurity. There were times when I did feel very upset about comments people left on my page, and I allowed that to bring me down emotionally. Objectively, I know that the most important thing is how I feel and what I’m doing for myself to live a happy and healthy life- any one else’s opinion of that really doesn’t matter. So I try to take any negativity with a grain of salt. If comments are really bad, I simply delete them as I don’t need that kind of negativity and neither does anyone else. 🙂

How has working with Ledbetter changed your idea of what a woman’s body should or shouldn’t look like?

It’s interesting because I don’t really think there is a particular way that a woman’s body should or shouldn’t look. I don’t believe there is a specific way any woman “should” look, as that’s all personal preference to decide how we each feel best! How I would like to look may be different from the woman next to me. However, I do believe women should practice healthy habits and exercise in some way on a regular basis. Working with Ledbetter has helped me develop that mindset by focusing on health as a priority, always.

What has been the most rewarding part of coaching women who come to you with a lack of confidence about their body?

The most rewarding part about coaching women who start with a lack of confidence is to see them grow and transform not only their body, but their mind. It’s fulfilling to see that spark of self love and confidence slowly start, then grow with time to become something that no longer depends solely on the mirror. 

When you look in the mirror now, what do you wish you could say to the girl you were when you weren’t as confident with your body?

I wish I could tell her, “You are more than that mirror. You are more than what you look like or what other people think you look like. You are strong and capable and beautiful in your body as it is. If you have a goal, make the changes you need to get there. But you only have one body, so treat it with love.”

Is there any advice that you would give to women who can’t seem to get out of that body shaming mentality?

See above. 🙂 Also: we are each made different from one another. Your best will be different than mine, and mine will be different than hers. But feeling and looking our best can only happen when we focus on treating our own bodies with love and self respect. Shame has no place when self love and respect are present.

There you have it, and for more inspiration and really cute pictures of her dog Teddy (because as a fellow obsessive dog mom I have to shout him out) follow Annika on Instagram here: @annika_joelle_fitness and Ledbetter here: @ledbetter_inc

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If negative body image issues and body shaming is part of your day to day, make it a priority to change your thinking around. Find a program like Ledbetter that works for you, find a coach that inspires you to be more positive, take a class that makes you feel awesome. It’s a work in progress on my end, but if we don’t actively try to become more loving towards our bodies, we’re just sending this negative message out into the world. 

 

 

 

 

An Unapologetic Rant On Today's Fitness World

Every day, I like many, sit on Instagram and see the array of fitness pictures. I see the cross-fitters lifting heavy, the runners who just finished 10 miles, the body builders who are four weeks in, the shake cleansers with their before and afters, and half naked women who instantly make you hate yourself. Let’s be serious, social media is the place for all of these people to brag about their fitness successes, and you know what? Props to them. But what about the ‘everyday’ people who don’t look like these half naked fitness models? Can we give them some credit for trying?

As I scroll through my news feed I see the millions of before and after pictures of people who just lost a few pounds. What really sticks out to me is that almost EVERY single one of these pictures has a caption that starts a little something like, “I don’t usually post something like this but…”. NO. STOP. Own that shit. You just worked your ass off (literally). Be proud of what you’ve just done. It takes not only the physical ability to transform our bodies, but the mental ability. It takes will power to break unhealthy habits. I understand, posting these pictures takes a lot of guts. You’re showing the world a vulnerable side of yourself, but you’re also showing the world the inner and outer strength you have just gained. Throw that before and after on there, and follow that up with a caption that says- “LOOK WHAT I JUST DID”.

And for those of you out there hating on these people for their success- shaming these people doesn’t make you any better. Fine, if you want to secretly hate the girl on Twitter who thinks she’s super cool because she suddenly lifts and wants ‘#gainz’, by all means bash her in your head (hey, I’ve done it). But then take a step back and realize that, yes she needs to shut up but she’s also actively trying to better her body and health, and might need the acknowledgement from social media to feel good about it.

To further my rant, shaming the people who don’t fit our ‘social norm’ of ‘being fit’ (whatever that may be) is also not okay. They may not want to be a size zero. Maybe they just want to be healthy so they can get up and down to play with their kids. Maybe they want to be strong and muscular because lifting heavy shit makes them feel good. Maybe they just want to feel that energy after a good spin class. Whatever the reason, don’t put these people who are doing their best down. You don’t know why someone has gained 100 lbs. Stuff happens in all of our lives, and sometimes the number on the scale is out of our control. Take a step back, and focus on your own goals rather than shitting on people in the gym who are actively trying. If you see someone doing a machine or lift wrong, EDUCATE THEM. The gym can be a really intimidating place for some people. At least they are brave enough to get off the treadmill and try something new. Don’t make fun of them, teach them.

So, to conclude my tirade, congratulate the people who are able to step foot in the gym everyday, educate the ones who have no idea what they’re doing, and then get in there yourself. If you’re one of the millions posting your progress and success-own it. Don’t be ashamed of what you have accomplished. Everyone has their own fitness journey, respect that, and remember that comparison is the thief of happiness.