My name is Cristina and I’m 27. I’ve lost roughly 110 pounds, there’s a few pounds fluctuation, but that’s normal. I started sharing my story with friends who lived far away on social media, and before I do it I had 28K followers and a social media presence. As health and fitness became more important in my everyday life, I noticed that strangers were joining me on my journey. Getting healthy was something for me to control at a time I felt like I couldn’t control much at all. I took my time. I set goals. I educated myself along the way. I’ve competed in two bikini competitions and those helped me grow in so many ways.
It wasn’t until the weekend of my second competition, that my social media presence really grew.
I’ve been blogging for four years and that’s my favorite way to communicate, however, with social media trends – it’s clear that people are less likely to read something unless truly invested. Because of this, instagram is my second favorite platform, even though I use it more often than my blog.
I went from roughly 6K followers to 28.4K in about 4 months. I thought it was the coolest thing, weird, but cool. What I didn’t realize was the expectation that these strangers were placing on me, real and perceived. I’m human. I’m not perfect. I have good days and bad days. More lately I’ve talked about mental health as it impacts my whole days and all aspects of health, but that aside, I’ve noticed that people expect me to not mess up. For some, this isn’t the case. For some, it makes me more relatable, but that doesn’t mean that the expectations as a whole go away.
Below is the letter I would write to myself and any other person leveraging social media to share their story.
Dear Fit Girl,
Thank you for sharing your story online for the world to see. I’m glad that you are brave enough to be honest and open knowing that there are strangers out there who will try to diminish your work and bring you down. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people to forget that you are a real person with feelings and thoughts and struggles. There has to be more behind the screen?
Thank you for inspiring me to be better than I was yesterday.
Thank you for showing me that not every day is going to be great, but you have to try to make progress.
Thank you for allowing me to ask questions and pointing me in the right direction, I can’t imagine how many people ask you the same things over and over. Thank you for giving me your time, I know it's valuable.
Thank you for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone because I never can imagine myself in that way, but seeing you makes it seem possible for me.
I’m sorry that you feel as though you need to justify your actions, your beliefs or how you feel. I’m sorry that people aren’t trying to take the time to learn your story and instead, are making quick judgements. I’m sorry our society doesn’t think you have the right to love yourself. I know you’ve worked hard to get to where you are. I wish people could understand that the only magic comes from inside, that’s it’s not a fairy dust that is sprinkled around. It’s sad that in a world that wants you to be yourself and be “body positive” you’re also told don’t be yourself in this way and don’t love yourself like this. I aspire to the day that I am comfortable enough with myself that I can ignore the comments, but until that day comes I will try my best.
Please don’t stop dreaming. Please don’t stop reaching. Please don’t stop being honest with strangers on the other side of the screen. We need more honesty in this world.
Cristina is a 20-something who found health and fitness at a time when she felt like everything was out of her control. She finds herself constantly learning and challenging herself to be better than she was the day before. While health and fitness aren't a part of her career, they are very important to her. She is an advocate for balanced eating - a cupcake a week keeps the doctor away! She's also a proponent for having open discussions about mental health and the impacts it has on your overall self.
She runs the blog, Run, Sweat, Eat, Repeat, where she shares recipes, her health and fitness journey and most recently - a mental health series that has engaged hundreds of people globally in a larger conversation. To follow Cristina online check out Instagram - @runsweateatrepeat or go directly to her blog - www.runsweateatrepeat.com.