Don’t Worry, You Won’t Look Like Me

Recently, someone commented on this picture of me:

GNO7

Showing off the guns AND the bum! 

Their comment was something along the lines of “This picture makes me NOT want to lift. So unflattering”

Now, let’s take a second to think about the picture itself.

I had posted it at the end of this blog post. The whole point of the post was talking about a killer spin class I had taken, and then had followed up the next morning by doing an insane stadium workout with a 15 lb kettle bell in my backpack. To say I felt like a total beast that day would be an understatement.

When I asked someone to take that picture of me following my stadium workout, I knew that I looked like hell. I knew that I looked like, well, like I had just run stadiums with a weighted backpack on. I knew I had a red face and sweaty hair, and to be honest, I really didn’t care.

But when I saw the picture that a very kind stranger took for me, I’ll be completely honest and say that the first thing I noticed was that it wasn’t flattering.

My arms looked big.

But after half a second of that stupid thought, a much more important thought came to my mind. Who CARES what I look like in that very sweaty moment. My arms look big? My arms look STRONG! I had just crushed an awesome workout, and I was proud of what my body had accomplished. To me, that is what that picture shows. Pride in myself and in my capabilities. Pride in my strength and my endurance. Pride in being me.

But let’s go back to the picture and the commenter.

What is that picture, exactly? It’s a very small moment in time. In fact, it’s a screen capture of one shutter click. One fraction of a second. If I had moved my arms one inch up or down, would it be more flattering? If I had held my arms in a different position, and let my booty pop just a little bit, would it be more flattering?

Maybe, but that wasn’t the point.

The point of that picture wasn’t for me to look sexy. It wasn’t to show all my Instagram followers how cut and lean I looked first thing in the morning (I don’t). It wasn’t to show that world that I think I’m perfect.

It was to have proof that I kicked ass that day. 

It was to show myself that I made it through one hell of a workout at a time when I wasn’t sure I’d be physically capable of finishing. 

It was to remember the feeling of exhilaration I had while finishing those stadium stairs knowing that I had put every last ounce of energy I had into that workout. 

It was to show myself that I can, I did, and I will do it again.

I don’t know about you, but when I look at that picture I can see in my face how happy I was at that very moment. I actually love that picture, even though it’s not the most flattering fitness photo I have of myself, and I love showing it off because of the emotion that I think is conveyed. If that makes you not want to lift, than that’s your prerogative, but I’m sorry I just don’t get it.

The thing is, trusty commenter (and I mean this with the most respect), you will not ever look like me, and that I can promise you. Lifting weights will not make you look like that picture. Heck, most days I don’t even look like that picture.

But that picture is about so much more than that singular moment in time. If I took one look at that picture and deleted it because it was “unflattering”, somewhere down the line I would forget about that day. I would forget what my legs felt like on those last few stairs, and I would forget my pride in that very moment. Flattering picture or not, I’d rather remember moments like this rather than just the ones where I looked my best.

Because truthfully, in the times that I look my best, I’m probably not training hard enough. 

Yes, sometimes there will be unflattering pictures of you, but if you can find the workout that makes you so gosh darn proud of yourself that you don’t care? That’s what it’s all about.

Fitness is power. And whether you want to “look like me” or not is no concern of mine, but what you should want is that hunger, that pride, that inner strength. That is worth more than any picture could ever be. 

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41 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, You Won’t Look Like Me

  1. Good for you for completing a killer workout! Sometimes I feel like people miss the point of working out…I work out to be strong, healthy, and competetive…not necessarily for asthetics. I once had a conversation with a friend’s daughter who was a senior in high school and an amazing swimmer but was considering giving up swimming because she didn’t like how muscular it made her shoulders and back. That made me really sad and I think comments like the one you got on this picture are so harmful for that reason. I think you look great but I definitely post “unflattering” post workout pics of myself sometimes. I’ll think about not sharing it because I don’t like the way I look then like you I realize I don’t care. I’m proud of every workout I complete and am a real person…not a fitness model.

    • I agree 100%. I look around Instagram and see so many accounts that only show “sexy” fitness shots and I just think that’s not being honest. The sweaty, gritty shots that show how hard you just worked? In my opinion that’s gold! Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. “If you’re not sweating at the end of your workout, you’re not trying hard enough!”
    Love this quote – and I think it links in nicely with your post.
    Good on you for not caring – and well done on a hardcore workout!!!

  3. Very inspiring, Steph! Good on you to leave that picture up. You look completely badass. I took that same killer spin class with you the night before, so to have conquered the stadium with a weighted backpack the very next morning? Definite beast mode.

    Some people just don’t get it. Keep on keeping on!

  4. Wowzer. That photo is awesome. The stick-your-bum-out-and-rotate-your-upper-body photos must be inspirational to some but not for me. I love seeing the JOY of working on your fitness and doing crazy challenges that make somebody feel alive and happy! Do the super cut fitspo photos convey joy to me? Not so much.

  5. I think the photo is awesome too! And am so glad to read this post, and love your confidence. It’s really hard to grasp that being fit and strong is not about always looking like your perfect goal photo. Like you said, that’s one day, and if you continuously try to look like that one perfect day, you’ll drive yourself crazy. It just won’t happen again. When I used do the photo “compare” thing every few months, my self-esteem tanked. I kept going back to one photo snapshot that I liked of myself, but I just could never recreate it. After a few years of lifting and working out differently, my arms are bigger. My legs are too. Comparing? I hated myself. So I stopped and deleted all the old photos from my computer so I wouldn’t do that anymore. Problem solved. I can now see myself for who I am now: strong and capable–and be proud. As you are in that photo. I am sad someone was rude enough to make that comment to you, but it looks like it was a good lesson in self-evaluation 🙂

  6. This post is so awesome. I sometimes get self conscious about how I look after a workout (drenched and sweaty, hair is an absolute mess…you know the drill). But then I remember that I just worked my butt off so that I can feel (and hopefully look) good when I’m NOT working out. The whole point is to feel happy and healthy (and like a badass). And I have to say — that stadium workout sounds like a KILLER. Major kudos to you for getting it done!

    I won’t even address the person who commented on your photo (even though I kind of just did) because it’s not worth it.

    Keep doing you.

    • I really didn’t get mad when I saw that comment, and I’m not even sure they realized that they were being a little harsh. I just think it’s funny that THAT would be something that would make them not want to lift, you know? Like, ok, you don’t want to feel awesome and badass after a workout? 🙂

  7. I have some insane photos of myself looking like I’m about to throw up or someone has just dunked ice cubes down my back. The best ones are the sheer concentration photos. There’s no grace or pose – it’s hard work and dynamic movement. I’ve never achieved a “flattering” photo that I would send to a model agency. But there’s loads of photos that my kids and husband love and enjoy.
    You ROCK – showing how women look awesome when they’ve worked hard. Nothing in that picture screams unflattering. It says AWESOMENESS is hard work and I’ve achieved that.
    Keep up the great work 😉

  8. Even before you posted this I had seen the picture and remember loving it. Like you say the look on your face and I think you look amazing in it. There will always be people who think women should be twiggy whether it is men or women. I like this quote I heard “weak men like weak women” and personally my husband is my biggest supporter about my body and life goals. If you have the people in your life supporting you and you can be strong enough to stand up to weak people, then I think you are given the “ok” to be who you want to be. As hard as that can be sometimes. I admire you for this post and posting the photo in the first place. Way to stand up for yourself!

  9. Love this post, and love your blog. I also wanted to throw an interesting idea out there… I believe each person’s life is truly governed by each individual person’s perception.

    2 things I thought reading this post: #1… “showing off the guns and the bum” isn’t all that offensive in my mind. I would LOVE to have arms and a butt that look like that. You are strong and confident and I thought the picture was great. #2… you perceived that you were “too big” or looked “unflattering” when I didn’t get that at all!

    Another example: I have always been naturally thin, and recently I have really been focusing on lifting heavy so that I can gain muscle and tone. I want to be strong, not “skinny”. I want to be healthy, not “skinny”. So when people tell me “Ohmygosh Emily, you look so skinny in those pants!” I cringe. Most people would love to hear a comment like that (and my friends think it is a compliment). But to me, that word is not what I want to hear. I would much rather hear “Wow Emily, you look great!”

    Just makes you think doesn’t it? xoxo

    • Great point Emily! It really is all about perception — it’s so funny how two different people (even two who are the same size) can have two totally different experiences when it comes to this stuff. Body image is such a tricky thing, and it’s true that we are always our harshest critics. Keep working hard and you’ll get to where you want to be — pretty soon, people will be telling you “Wow Emily, you look so strong!”

  10. Unflattering is not what comes to my mind when looking at your picture. I think you look fantastic and happy! (And who cares what anyone other than you think anyway! 🙂 You said you felt bad-ass in that moment and that’s all that matters!) It’s so easy to let other people’s words and opinions tear us down; it’s awesome that you didn’t let a silly comment do that to you.

  11. The point of fitness it to be able to DO things, not LOOK a certain way. Not only did you have an awesome workout, but you look pretty freakin happy about it! Love this, keep it up.

    • Thanks! I think it is worth saying that part of fitness is to look a certain way, right? I mean, we all want to look good (although what “good” is, is totally subjective). But you are right that the focus should be on being able to DO things, because doing things is exactly what our bodies are meant to do! And I want my body to be able to do things well 🙂

  12. Pingback: F&F Friday Favorites ~ 01.23.15 | Fitness & Feta

  13. Whoever wrote that comment clearly doesn’t understand what feeling accomplished looks like, because that picture is perfect for accomplishment. Every shot shouldn’t be perfect and wonderfully flattering because that isn’t life. I think you look great, happy and fit and that is what it is about. #killedit!

  14. I’d love to look like that because it would mean I just did something challenging I probably wasnt sure I could do. If we worried about appearances all the time we’d be missing out on a lot of awesome moments in life. And that moment for you looks fantastic! I love the excitement in your face! It’s the first thing I noticed…not the arms or bum.

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