my choice to share

Social media can be a dangerous place for one’s self-esteem, especially when you are on a healing path and putting yourself out there with openness and vulnerability – the way I think many of us do in this community.

The other day, I posted a picture of myself in a bathing suit. It was a happy moment for me, and one I wanted to document and share with all of you.

IMG_9505I think that my sharing of it conveyed two things: first, that I am healthy enough to swim with fins on, a fact that after many months of being hurt I wanted to celebrate and hoped that by sharing I would be an example and give hope to the currently injured that they will get better, too. And second, that I am healthy enough and comfortable enough with my body to put a picture “like that” of myself on the internet. I am very aware of the fact that this may not have been the most flattering photo of me, but I am also extremely proud of and grateful for my body, and for the health and strength (physical, mental and emotional) I have worked and continue to work – and will always work – SO VERY HARD to achieve.

I am happy in that picture.Β I am strong in that picture. I am real in that picture.

I am me in that picture.

But still, because of that picture I was judged, shamed and criticized for the way I look and for how my body has changed in recent years. And even though deeply in my heart I KNOW that these changes have been so necessary and so good and so healthy for me in nearly countless ways, the things that were said about me hurt and had me questioning my choice to share myself and my life on social media.

I realized … NO WONDER there is so much that feels fake on social media! No wonder so many people look for the most flattering angles and the best filters and comb through their words to make them “just right” – and in a sense hide their true selves – when they share online. No wonder people, and maybe especially women (though I believe men go through this, too!) feel that they have to restrict their eating or workout several times a day or push themselves so far in order to meet a possibly unattainable – and definitely unsustainable – “ideal” standard.

It’s so messed up that being real exposes us to getting hurt, so we often do what we can to avoid that.

I wish I could change that.

I have not “let myself go” for those of you who are wondering why I have gained weight (and I have gained weight – about 25 pounds, slowly over the last three years). Gaining weight was something I needed to do along my path to getting healthy. I talked a little about this when I shared my story with overtraining last year, and am happy to elaborate and share more if it would be helpful to others. In fact, my weight gain is quite the opposite of letting myself go. I have discovered myself. I have embraced myself. I have taken myself in and with the help of an amazing husband and family, an incredible circle of friends, a compassionate therapist and a nutritionist who has firsthand experience in helping female athletes recover from overtraining and disordered eating, I have learned to love and care for, forgive and nourish, celebrate and BE the person I am – heart, soul and also body.

And I’m not going to hide. I know that this choice opens me up to more ridicule but I believe I am strong enough to handle that if it happens, and that I will stay my course. I hope that by not hiding and by living and sharing my truth here and in my daily interactions, I am doing my small part to make a change. That I will somehow, even in the smallest of ways, inspire others to also not be afraid to be true to themselves and to show up in their lives, in their relationships – and yes – also on social media – just as they are.

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44 thoughts on “my choice to share

  1. You are beautiful, both inside and out! Thank you for being real – I’m one person who learns from and is inspired by your sharing.

  2. You are beautiful, Jessica!!! I love this blog post times a thousand. It’s awful that people would say stuff about you, and it really speaks more to their issues than anything else. Anyone who has anything negative to say about that photo (or any photo) clearly is struggling with something in their own lives. So proud of you and your journey. πŸ™‚

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve been feeling not great about my body lately because it seems my shorts are fitting more snug than they did last year, and I hate that feeling. No matter my weight or pants size, I’m strong as hell. That’s what matters.

    • YES. You are strong as hell! And it’s what is on the INSIDE that counts the most. Our bodies are beautiful and we are so blessed to have them, but ultimately they are a vessel for our amazing spirits and minds! Hugs to you!

  4. Your IG posts brighten my day every morning because all I constantly see when I look at them is HAPPINESS and POSITIVITY. I honestly wouldn’t even know how your body looks like because all I care about is what you have to say, not how you look like. If some people out there are so concerned about the way YOU look… I’m sorry, but that’s just weird and they are the ones with issues. Keep being real, please!

    • Thank you so much, Sarah. Your journey and the way you share inspires me, and so many others, also. One of these days I will be so excited to meet you in person and give you a big hug!

  5. Long time follower, first time commenter. πŸ˜‰ I loved your IG post so hard because your joy was radiating through the image. Thank you for being real, keeping it real, and all that jazz. Truly.

  6. Bravo you!!!! You are strong and beautiful and YOU! Thank you for being open and real – for all of us. And for being brave, even in the face of judgement.

  7. Thanks for sharing, I’m also going through a similar thing having been injured for the last 18months. These things can’t be helped sometimes and we learn about overtraining and disordered eating. Healthy mind = healthy body. We’ll get there. Celebrate life. Well done to you πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ’ͺπŸƒπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ‘Œ

  8. I love how real you are! Your authenticity is what has always spoken to me from the day I met you, in person and through your blog. You are beautiful inside and out!

  9. You go girl! You are awesome and strong and your beauty radiates from the inside out! Who? WHO?!?!? WHO!!?? In the world dared to say negative things about you and or your body?? The SHAME is on THEM!
    LOVE YOU SISTER! You are better now than ever before! Hooray for healthy! Hooray for strong! Hooray for you and your strong proud voice! #superROLEMODEL

  10. What complete assholes. Who the hell are these f*** faces who have something negative to say? Peace them right the f*** out of your life. Glad you’re able to move past all that!

  11. It makes me sad that so many people online feel the need/desire/right to criticize other’ appearances. I’m sorry you were a recipient of that vile behavior. But I’m glad you posted this, hopefully as more and more messages are shared exposing the behavior and pointing fingers how it is wrong, we can affect change.

    • Thank you so much, Melissa. Your kindness and support mean a lot. I miss seeing you in Reston, too but I am always inspired by you and truly admire how I see you being an amazing mother, friend, businesswoman and supporter of all you believe in within the community. You are just AWESOME. XO.

  12. You have nothing to be ashamed of! I have no idea what people would have to judge about that photo. You look amazing. Keep on sharing and being you and real, and forget about those haters (I know easier said than done).

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  15. I just listened to your story on I’ll Have Another. So moving and inspirational. Your messages spoke to me in ways that I needed to hear at this point in my journey. Thanks for sharing.

  16. β€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
    So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
    – Theodore Roosevelt

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