Prepare for the struggle.
Instagram makes it look easy. All of it.
There’s no mess on Instagram, because the cleaner was always proverbially just there and the angle is always just right. Instagram literally filters the messy bits of life: the emotions, the struggles, the drama, the work, the failures.
You already know this but you need to really know it: nobody has it any easier than you. Nobody gets everything while you get nothing. And nobody gets nothing while you get everything.
When it comes to my body, people have told me that I don’t understand, because it must be “easy” for me. This, through the lens of looking at a blonde 5’4” 125 lb woman, makes sense.
I have had chronic pain in this body. Pain that meant I couldn’t figure out how to exercise without it, for years, not just days. Exercise is my job, so imagine how embarrassing it is to be helping people out of pain every day while struggling intellectually and emotionally with daily chronic pain. That’s not on Instagram; none of it is.
I’ve had weight struggles in this body. I don’t stay the same weight for more than an hour. So I gave you a number above that will change with a night of sleep or a cup of coffee. I’ve been 60 pounds heavier and 20 pounds lighter. Instagram doesn’t show you that.
I have to watch what I eat. I don’t get to eat 4,000 calories a day. I don’t get to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I tell you that I do, but that’s because I feel better when I don’t feel tired or lethargic or bloated or fat. So I have to mind my sugar (which makes me crave more) and alcohol (which makes me gain weight) and bread (which makes me bloat) and cheese (which gives me an earache). I have to watch that I don’t eat too much or too little or I will be lethargic, and I have to make sure I’m getting enough protein and vegetables or I will be chronically tired. I actually always have had to do all of these things, and likely always will. I haven’t been that honest on Instagram.
I have to exercise. I used to run and lift weights and cycle. Now my body freaks out and I end up in pain for days or weeks if I push it too hard. But I can’t do nothing or I also end up in pain for days or weeks for pushing too little. So I have a happy little regime of daily Yin yoga and weekly Yamuna Body Rolling that does go on Instagram, but the reasons why never do. The failure, the need to quit, the need to start over.
I don’t mean to lie when I say I get up at 6 a.m. and do yoga, but I accidentally do lie. I mean, yes, I get up and do yoga, but I never mention that I had to adjust my bedtime, or that some mornings it’s a drag, or I’m distracted by something else and I don’t get to it until 7 or at all. So we assume that we are failing if we don’t also get up at 6 a.m. and do yoga like I said on Instagram. If that’s the standard I’m holding myself to, then I’m also failing and I was the one who created the expectation.
I don’t always eat clean. I drink and eat chocolate too. I guess I sometimes put those on Instagram, but I’m more likely to show you ferments, which rarely hit my plate, or some other especially fancy or healthy food that I think I should be eating.
None of the above are “hard.” But none of it prepares you for the struggle. You are going to crave sugar. You are going to emotionally eat. Workout motivation is going to feel hard sometimes. You are going to want to skip some workouts or change it up completely. You are going to have to monitor what you eat to at least some degree. You are going to have to move your body—not too little, and not too much. You will struggle with your weight being either too high or too low or both. Your body will hurt sometimes in some places and that pain will either stay there for a longer or shorter period.
Prepare for the struggle. Instagram doesn’t prepare you, and it actually makes you think you are failing alone.
You aren’t. I’m right there with you.