Mental health weighing in

Why my 2017 goals DON’T include body transformation pics

January 2, 2017
2017 goals body transformation pics Rosemary Mac Cabe

In case any of you don’t know – I took up lifting weights at the tail end of 2015 and started posting body transformation pics at around the same time. I would take my photograph every Wednesday after a morning personal training session, wearing exactly the same outfit – a pink Under Armour vest and a pair of bright blue StellaSport bottoms that I have grown to hate. And, surprise surprise, my followers loved them.

See? Of all of the posts I shared on Instagram in 2016 (801), four of the top 16 were body transformation pics; all of the top 16, with the exception of one competition, were relating to changes in my looks (haircuts, make-up, body positivity).

And on the one hand, I get it; Instagram is a hugely visual platform, and weight loss is such a universal goal that it’s no surprise my body transformation pics were really popular. But I also think that lying down and accepting the fact that our culture has become more totally and utterly obsessed with looks than ever before would be a huge mistake.

2017 goals body transformation pics Rosemary Mac Cabe

That’s not the only reason I’ve decided to stop sharing body transformation pics (in fact, I’m not going to take them any more either), but it does have a lot to do with it.

I’ve taken a bit of a break lately – not from working out, although the frequency of workouts has slowed from seven-odd a week to around three or four, but from eating super healthily and taking body transformation pics. And I’ve started feeling this massive guilt, that I’m letting my trainers down, and letting my followers down. And it was when I was considering taking my weekly photograph recently that I had this panic, thinking, Jesus, if this is what I look like after a year, what have I been doing with myself?!

Then I stood back and got a grip; I’ve been lifting heavy weights. I’ve been enjoying life. I’ve been enjoying food (and not punishing myself for it), and I’ve been working and playing and crying and laughing and all of those things in between; I haven’t been obsessing about my body, and I think that not taking those body transformation pics has a lot to do with that!

As such, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about balance, health and wellness and how not only to achieve but to measure those things. I even wrote a blog post about it, when I was teasing out my initial thoughts.

Instagram is so full of women measuring their health and their personal achievements solely on visuals. I look great in #MyCalvins, therefore I should feel proud; I look bad in #MyCalvins, therefore I should feel guilty. Where is the respect for how one’s body feels, in those thoughts? Where is the person measuring themselves not on their physical measurements, but on their ability to lift weights, and run for the bus?

I know women who post regular #gymselfies to Instagram, extolling the virtue of regular workouts and excessive sweating, but one moment of weakness in the form of a sandwich or a fizzy drink or even (heaven forbid) a bowl of carb-heavy porridge, and it’s punishment cardio for days. I was dangerously close to thinking exactly like this – and how can this possibly be considered a healthy outlook?

It’s not that I won’t be talking about the changes my body has been going through – and hopefully will continue to go through. It’s just that I’m hoping 2017 will be the year I stop measuring my body in terms of how it looks, and start considering how it feels – and actually, some of the photographs in which I can see the biggest transformation have nothing to do with my body. They’re photographs in which I’m smiling, in which I look happy and healthy and comfortable with myself.

From a cynical, thirsty-for-likes point of view, this could be considered a dumb move; social media is my bread ‘n’ butter, after all, and why not give the people what they want? But my mental health is more important than whatever validation I get from people “liking” my Instagram photographs – and I’m really hoping that my #2017bestnine will show more than body transformation pics.

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  • Reply Ellie January 2, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Love this and love the picture of yourself you put with it. Natural, happy, content and just plain normal like everyone else 🙂

  • Reply AGNES January 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    So true and exactly what is wrong if we r healthy and happy it’s hard to get the right balance but I will be giving it a good try this year

  • Reply Alice January 3, 2017 at 12:13 am

    You hit the nail on the head again Rosemary! Great read and best of luck always

  • Reply Ciara February 24, 2017 at 11:15 am

    It’s so great to read something like this. I got married last year so was hell bent on losing weight for this dress. I lost 2 stone but now it’s more like 1.5 stone. The joys of having no dress to fit into! The guilt is all consuming especially when I scroll through Instagram. I’ve even been thinking of deleting it as all I see is transformations and abs and massive toned legs. And then you look at yourself with no abs and not toned enough legs and see that this can lead to obsession and no self-love. So I’m glad you wrote this…I can most definitely relate!

  • Reply Ciara March 14, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    I love this but I do think that possibly one of the reasons that those pictures are your most liked is because you come across as normal. Your a normal woman trying to lose weight and I know personally when i see someone like you losing weight it gives me hope that I can do it too. You dont look like a freaking barbie doll in the after picture which makes it more realistic to normal people. I am glad though your giving them up if they make you feel pressured or guilty because what we dont need is more stress when it comes to our own body image. However if they make someone feel proud about themselves or motivated I think thats great too.

  • Reply Dan April 3, 2017 at 9:15 am

    Great post Rosemary, people to get too obsessed with before and after photos and scale weight.

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