Raise your hand if you’ve spent an absurd amount of your hard earned money on trainers, work-out classes, clothes that you think might inspire you to get in better shape, and suffered through all the new “trendy” diets, yet you still never seem to be happy with the results? Well I am sitting here raising my hand right there with you. In fact, I’m shamelessly waving both hands in the air!
If you’re reading this, then you know I’ve built my business from the ground up and am proud to say that Blondes Who Eat has become a pretty successful food Instagram/blog that keeps on growing. Along with this success, however, has come an increasing amount of scrutiny both by myself and by those on the internet. Running @BlondesWhoEat requires me to eat 24/7 and I absolutely love it, but it’s not exactly a recipe for being in my “best shape.” I’ve always been active, so it’s been a luxury for me to be able to eat whatever I want and still feel “okay” with what I looked like, but at the end of the day I wasn’t completely satisfied with the way I looked. In the age of social media, it’s easy to think everyone else has the “perfect life” and I often look at some influencers and think “I wish I looked like that” or “I wish I was a few sizes smaller.” Heck, l was comparing myself to random girls bodies online that I didn’t even know, wondering what it would take to look like them.
I feel like it’s important for me to make note of the fact that by the standards of the world, I wasn’t “fat” or “overweight,” but I just wasn’t happy with the way that I looked. When I looked in the mirror, I saw someone completely different than the rest of the world sees, and it was intensely critical. If there’s something I’ve learned through all of this, and from John as well, it’s that we all view ourselves more critically than others view us, and we are all prone to seeing perfection in others that we do not see in ourselves. It’s easy for me to see the beauty in another woman, who might have a completely different weight range or body type than me, but just see the flaws in myself.
Eventually, I started consulting various trainers and reading up on health blogs to figure out what it would require to “look like them,” but the harsh reality was, if I wanted to look and feel my best then I had to change some of my ways. It was easy to outwardly commit to that – of course I can change my eating habits and exercise more – but on the inside I knew that was going to be difficult. I literally loved food: I love eating food, I love the experience of cooking food, I love trying new things, and I love going out to eat. Even though I found myself comparing my body to other influencers and wanting to look “better” in general, I knew deep down I wasn’t going to be able to give up the part of me that loves good food.
Basically, I started to wonder how I could have my cake and eat it too. One day, I somehow stumbled across the quote “mastering moderation means being able to eat, drink and exercise without taking an all or nothing approach” and I immediately knew this is what I needed to figure out how to do. I obviously needed to make some sacrifices to achieve these goals I had, so I started doing different programs to try and make my lifestyle work with my goals. Not only was I paying money up front for these diets and exercise schemes with nothing but blind hope, but I always felt down at the end of the first benchmarks when I just wasn’t seeing the results that I was “paying” for.
Finally, I came across the Instagram page for my (now) god-send: John Benton. I can’t remember how I heard about him or when exactly I came across his page for the first time, but when I did, I scrolled through his page for HOURS looking at his transformations. The only issue I saw was the headline on his webpage name which reads “John Benton Model Fitness” and model, I am not! As I kept looking, though, I realized that there were TONS of “normal” women filling his feed, having amazing transformations and seeing incredible results – just like the kind of results I was looking for. I suddenly thought, if these people could do it, then why couldn’t I? So, I decided to quiet my fears about not being a “model” and just send him a message, because after all, it’s my own health and happiness at stake.
I was over the moon when John messaged me back saying he would love to have me in, and I’ll never forget my first class on his program. As I walked into the studio, I caught a glimpse of the class ahead of me finishing up their work out, and this may be an oxymoron, but it was both intimidating and inspiring. Up until this point, I was the girl saying “I could care less what people think about me” and wearing whatever exercise attire to the gym, but seeing all those fit and motivated women that day never left me feeling more out of place. I was genuinely tempted to run for the door! Regardless, I had goals I wanted to achieve and I wanted to prove to myself that I could at least stick out the class, so I took a deep breath. I put on my badass warrior face, and I reminded myself that I had to start somewhere, so why not now.
I would come to learn that even those “perfect” girls on my first day of class were dealing with their own struggles, and working towards their own goals for their own bodies and lifestyles. At the end of the day, I realized there is no such thing as perfection when it comes to body image. Instead of striving to achieve some unattainable goal, I just needed to gain my own sense of pride and security in my body. It doesn’t matter what anyone else in the class (or in the world for that matter) looks like – I’m there to focus on ME. I soon learned how to hone my personal fitness goals, and I started seeing that it was possible to strive towards a better version of myself while still doing what I love and enjoying the things that truly make me happy. And this is exactly what John Benton focuses on: allowing you to be your best self without any shame. I completed my first class on June 13th and I haven’t looked back since.
Even though I was a bit hesitant (given my history of “glow-up” schemes), I went ahead and did a full consultation with John after the first class. This consultation consisted of a lengthy phone call about getting to know me, why I was there, my goals, eating habits, etc., and I’ve never felt more at ease after the phone call with John. He was truly the very first person to EVER “be okay” with my eating habits, and by that I mean he was excited about Blondes Who Eat, my job, eating for a living, and just realizing I wasn’t going to be slowing down with that anytime soon. That being said, he didn’t just give me free reign to eat McDonald’s on a daily basis, but he was ready to take me on as a challenge and help work with me to create obtainable goals.
During this call, John mentioned that I should take some “before” photos, this way I could track my progress, and I did so just before my next workout. He also took my measurements, and took additional photos of me, which was a bit uncomfortable seeing as I knew this could be something I’d share on social media one day, but at the same time, I was ready for the challenge. At this time, I also started going to classes 3-4 times per week, and I honestly began seeing results very quickly. Now, I can confidently look back and be proud of myself for taking those initial photos, because they truly do show how far I’ve come.
That being said, I did have a few months of slip ups and “ups and downs” if you will, but in January of 2020 I finally got my shit together!! Before I knew it, March had arrived and with it, the beginning of the end of the world with Coronavirus, but no time like a stay-at-home pandemic to kick things into high gear and utilize my spare time to boost those endorphins with some hard work! I adapted the intermittent fasting program 18/6, and I became more mindful of what I was eating and when. I also went from doing three to four classes a week to six, sometimes seven, yikes!
I felt better about myself with every passing day, that one morning when I decided to pull out a sports bra that I had purchased years ago that never fit me, FINALLY fit me and looked good!! I both hate and am proud to admit this, but I actually teared up I was so happy. Though I still didn’t envision myself a beauty queen by any means, I actually felt confident enough to walk out my front door and enter the outside world wearing nothing by my sports bra. This was a huge accomplishment for me, as I’ve always wanted to be happy and proud enough with my body to wear a sports bra in public. This is when I decided it was time to put back on my “before” outfit and take more photos. I was in absolute shock when I sent them to John, and he sent them back to me side by side. PROUD MOMENT. I couldn’t comprehend that the before photo was me, only 9 months ago. Here is the point in my story when John said something I’ll never forget…. “Confidence is a hell of a drug,” and he could not be more right.
At the original prospect of creating this post I was so scared of what people would say, and the hurtful comments that would surely come along with it, but it was a pleasant surprise to be able to report that I got everything but that when John posted my photos. I received hundreds of the most inspiring and uplifting messages congratulating me on my journey, and thanking me for my vulnerability. Sappy but true, I was at a loss for words. It took me a few days to process that there are so many people out there just like me, working hard but struggling to get to where they want to be and struggling to gain confidence in themselves. So, all this being said, I just want to let YOU know that you are beautiful and never let anything hold you back from being the best version of yourself! And if you want to indulge on some McDonald’s fries well then…we’re here to tell you the best ones to visit!! Never forget that you are your biggest fan!!