At the beginning of this year, I wrote a post detailing why I wouldn’t be using 2017 to focus on body transformation photos. I found that they were encouraging me to focus on the wrong things (aesthetics over happiness) and that, in a way, the popularity of those posts made me feel as if the most valuable thing I could do was shrink.
In the interim, I’ve become a lot more interested in body positivity. I’ve cleaned up my Instagram feed so that it doesn’t solely show me images of thin, white women. I’ve stopped dieting for aesthetics, or for fat loss – now, when I try to switch up my eating, I do it because eating a certain way makes me feel good physically, rather than mentally. But I’m not perfect; I’ll admit that, if I woke up tomorrow and was incredibly thin, I’d be delighted. I’m just not obsessed by the thought anymore.
It was when I was looking back on my “best of 2017” pics on Instagram that I realised that the shift in my focus is almost exactly reflected in those photographs:
Where last year was all body transformation pics and one massive competition, the pics that won 2017 were a mix of humour and love and distress and achievement – a more rounded reflection, I think you’ll agree, of the passing of another year.
So what was 2017, then?
In global terms, 2017 was a bit of a nightmare. There was more Brexit mayhem, the migrant crisis is nowhere near being solved, Trump is still there, Salem was cancelled.
From a more personal point of view, I’d be tempted to say 2017 was a bit of a wash – but then I think about all of the change that’s occurred throughout the year, and I realise that’s not exactly true. I changed careers in 2017; I got a 135kg deadlift; I went to Mallorca with Fitbit; I became a Body Positive Fitness Alliance affiliated professional; I finally got a Boojum T-shirt.
I went to Chicago and froze to death on the architectural river tour (which is the best city tour I’ve ever done); I deleted Snapchat (and then I reinstalled it because I’m indecisive like that); I pissed a lot of people off (by talking about how I don’t like Irish awards ceremonies, and I’m not sure I really think over-exposing kids on social media is a great idea) but I also built some bridges elsewhere; I went on Claire Byrne Live which was kind of amazing (to be asked, not my performance, because I was essentially silent); I ate some good food; I did some good workouts (and some crap ones); I laughed a lot; I walked a lot; and I made €2,217 from affiliate links.
It was a year that made me a personal trainer, but it also made me an aspiring body positivity activist. 2017 definitely made me more of a feminist (and that seemed pretty impossible). It made me an avid podcast-listener and that, in turn, gave me what might be my favourite ever song.
I may be on a little social media hiatus right now, but reflecting on the year gone by has made me realise that, if nothing else, social media is a beautiful little reminder to have of the best parts of your year (because those are the ones we share, right?)
And while I’m not a big believer in fate, or destiny, or a “higher power”… the older I get, the more I believe that, as in physics, so too in life: for every action, there must be an equal or opposite reaction. For all the things that get you down, there are things that could bring you up. Sometimes you just need to be reminded of them.