Thank You for Keeping It Real, Lauren Fleshman

And that photo was everywhere the next week, and it made me feel good and guilty at the same time. Because, on the other hand, that photo was fantasy. That photo was me, but it was me at my most excellent… It showed no evidence of all of my imperfections. That picture was what we all want to feel about ourselves, myself included. I spent my teenage years looking at fantasy photos like that and feeling inadequate. And now it was my body in that photo. –Lauren Fleshman

Lauren Fleshman walking the runway at the Oiselle show during NYFW 2013, just months after giving birth to her first child

Lauren Fleshman walking the runway at the Oiselle show during NYFW 2013, just months after giving birth to her first child

I’m not a world-class athlete, runway model, or world-class athlete acting as a runway model, but when I read about Lauren Fleshmen’s #KeepingItReal challenge, I could hardly control my excitement.  I’ve been so tired of images of women (and men) in the media/on social media lately. From the questionable #TransformationTuesday Instagram image of a scantily clad transformee’s before and after split screen, to the countless #fitgram images of idealistic curves and muscles constantly leaving me wondering what percentage are a.) built over many years of proper training, diet, and supplement usage and/or b.) surgically enhanced. Get serious, you absolutely did not, “Just Do Squats.” I decided to start sharing real transformation stories because I see so many people working hard to make positive changes in their lifestyles, and I want them to be inspired by reality. I want everyone to understand there’s no “one size fits all” transformation story, just like there’s no “one size fits all” body.

I thank Lauren Fleshman for sharing her story, and being so honest about her feelings and insecurities. I think she’s opened up a necessary dialogue when it comes to body image and reality. I try to be aware of the voice I use, and the way I present information because I share a lot of the same insecurities as many of you. The best I can do is present a perspective and hopefully provide some inspiration for all of us to keep working toward our best selves. It’s a collaboration, not a competition, and I have nothing to hide.

So here’s my Lauren Fleshman fantasy photo, where I see myself at my best, with lean muscle and great form, and I say, “Wow, I look amazing!” And then I look in the mirror and don’t quite see that same image every day:

blvd sprint

And here’s my #KeepingItReal photo shoot from the gym today, after a particularly grumpy day, feeling bloated and not at all like working out, because for me, keeping it real also means telling the whole truth— I don’t always enjoy working out, but I do it anyway. I seriously had to trick myself into going to the gym today, and was negotiating my way out of it all the way until I stepped on the treadmill:

Thank God for compression pants!

Thank God for compression pants!

I see images like this all the time on Instagram with #TransformationTuesday, but my transformation only took two seconds; and no I’m not sticking my stomach out in the picture on the left:

Split screen of my "abs," taken within moments of each other

Split screen of my “abs,” taken within moments of each other

For good measure, I figured I would show a side comparison as well:

Flexed vs Free

Flexed vs Free

So here’s the challenge, according to Lauren Fleshman: “Everyone keeps saying how powerful social media is. Let’s use it to redefine beauty. Post an unflattering photo of your body on Facebook or Twitter and spread the word. Add the hashtag #keepingitreal. When we click on that hashtag we’ll be able to see a collection of photos from real people that represent truth. How refreshing will that be?”

My Challenge: I don’t think you need to necessarily post an unflattering photo to be part of the movement; if the very thought makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts. But I do want you to be aware and challenge images you see on the media/social media (in your head; challenge them in your head…I’m by no means encouraging you to waste energy debating the authenticity of photos on the internet). Don’t believe everything you see or read. Always look for the primary source. And do your own part in keeping it real; be aware of how you’re presenting yourself to the world.

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