As a blogger, working with brands was a major goal of mine. I didn’t want to just work with anyone. I wanted to believe in the products, because if I’m going to support something, I want to genuinely like it. When I finally starting working with brands, it made me feel accomplished and determined to keep pushing myself and my blog.
In this last year, I tried working out again. At first, it was going great, but it eventually lead to a relapse with my eating disorder. Working out was great in the beginning. I fell in love with my body, because I was seeing my capabilities. It quickly got out of hand, and I took it too far. I became obsessed with the pursuit of weight loss again, so I had to dial it back. Eventually, I stopped working out all together, because it kept becoming extreme and unhealthy.
When it comes to fitness, I start out trying to find the right balance, because if I push too hard or focus on losing weight, I end up going to extremes. I haven’t always been successful these last few years when it comes to relapses with my bulimia.
Working out was something I initially did as a punishment to my body. I would run until I was sick. Also, I would hurt myself with exercise, so finding out that I struggle with it still, can be frustrating.
I started documenting my health journey after my hysterectomy, and even wrote about it with this blog. Now, I find myself going back and getting sad and disappointed that I couldn’t maintain the fitness thing without hurting myself again. Besides my eating disorder struggles, I also have a history with tumors, cysts, endometriosis, and adhesions wrapping around my organs. I know, I’m a mess.
I’ve had so many stomach surgeries and minor operations, so I thought working out would help me to recover slowly and rebuild muscle. Blogging about my health and fitness journey started out great, but it didn’t go like I hoped. Now, I’m learning that it’s okay if things don’t go as planned, because you have to focus on your mental health.
Then Came Instagram
I avoided getting an Instagram for my blog for months. When I finally took the plunge, I really enjoyed it. I was able to also find communities to share my workout and health journey with in the beginning. Before I hit a wall and stopped working out, because of my relapse, I was pushing myself to be apart of the fitness community.
A brand called Just Strong reached out and wanted me to become a brand ambassador. I filled out a form, picked out some cute workout clothes, and boom! Just like that, I became a brand ambassador.
I loved their idea of strength rather than weight loss. They have such a good message. Too often do I see people promoting fad diets and unhealthy ways to lose weight. I was really proud of this company, and I was even more excited to be apart of it all. I thought there was no way I could end up abusing my body and sleeping back into my old ED ways with a message like the one the company supported.
Working Out as Usual
I kept up my workouts and would do my brand posts. I included all of the hashtags they tell ambassadors to use, and I shared my discount code for my blog readers and Instagram followers. It felt wonderful at first, but it slowly started changing. There were warning signs like constantly taking picture of my stomach and becoming more and more angry if I skipped a workout, but I ignored my own personal signs and fell into the diet culture trap.
Then, I started get more and more messages from fitness coaches asking if I wanted to see “real results.” It hurt. I hated that they thought I was working out to achieve this skinny ideal, even though, deep down, it’s what I really wanted. What bothered me was that I would never tell someone their results aren’t real.
It upset me, because it was the snap out of it I needed, and it made me take a big step back. I had to look at my routines and really consider my mental health, because I was finally catching moments where I was being an internal mean girl to myself. So, I decided to start being more honest about my ED past with my readers. Blogging really helps keep me on the right track sometimes.
It Happened Again
I was going down that path again, and it started to scare the hell out of me. Taking a small break and focusing on my blog helped me reset my mind. I saw what I was doing to myself, and there was so much going on with the brand and myself that I needed to put a stop to it all.
Seeing negative comments made by other ambassadors of the brand made me open my eyes even more. I tried reminding myself that it’s not the brand’s fault that people can be cruel and pigheaded. So, I kept going. I starting exercising again, but I still had a rocky relationship with my body. During all of that, I decided to start my body acceptance book.
Once I hit the halfway point with the draft of my book, I felt incredible. I started to see AND finally change my behavior with my body. My relationship with fitness and trying to change myself was cracked again, even though I kept trying to go about it in a way I thought I could handle. Then, something with the brand took me by surprise.
Facebook Group Negativity
Being an ambassador for this brand meant following group boards and being involved in their community. I started seeing a lot of comments that I was uncomfortable with. At first, I tried ignoring them, but it became too much.
I saw a woman ask how to lose her “lower pooch” on this group page. The comments were a lot of other women telling her to try fasting workouts, cleanses, more fasting, waist trainers, and a lot of fad diets. There were literally hundreds of comments on ways to lose weight quickly and unhealthily. From that moment, I knew I had to breakup with this brand.
People told her she wasn’t dedicated. They weren’t offering advice. It turned into bullying, and she ended up blaming herself for not being thin enough and not having enough “willpower.” That’s when I saw that diet culture was ruining my progress with my ED. I also noticed just how dangerous diet culture can be even for those who don’t have a past with eating disorders. I had enough, because I had already relapsed trying to do this fitness craze.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
Whether it’s the brands fault or not, I can’t be apart of something that has community members that promote disordered eating and unhealthy weight loss tips. I strive to keep my mental health in a positive state as much as possible, and being part of group boards like that will do me no good. Honestly, I was already slipping up on my own, and I didn’t need more encouragement from people like that.
I want to promote loving your body at any size. Also, I want people to know that you don’t have to equate working out with being unhappy with your body. I will never be anti-fitness, but I am extremely against diet culture, now. It was an eye opening experience.
I will support people who workout for health and happiness. Also, I will support your journey as long as you don’t hurt yourself or others. However, I can’t workout, at least not right now. I just can’t do something to risk my recovery again, and I really can’t be apart of a company or group that has people with attitudes like the ones I saw.
Time for Goodbyes
I’m sorry, Just Strong. You have a wonderful message, and your workout gear is so comfortable. Some of the clothes really made me feel empowered, but I can’t continue to be apart of a community that I don’t agree with. I know there is no way to control the words and actions of others, but removing myself from the brand is what’s best for my mental health.
Brands & Sponsors
It’s important to honestly enjoy what you promote. Reviewing and promotion aren’t the same. That’s something I had to learn for myself with this blog.
I review products, and whether they were gifted or it’s a paid opportunity, I give my honest opinion. If I promote a product or service, it’s because I believe in it, and it has my support. I would never not give an opinion that isn’t my own, and I definitely wouldn’t promote something I disagree with.
Here’s to hoping that you can all find beauty in yourselves just as you are. I will always be here to help others who struggle with body image. Honestly, I can’t wait for the next step of my journey.
My book changed my view on my body, and I hope you can learn how to love your body at any stage, whether you workout or not and no matter what size jeans you wear. All bodies are beautiful.