Finding Joy in Fitness Helped Undo My Teenage Body Image Issues

Like so many others, my journey with body image wasn’t always easy. At times, it was incredibly hard to find anything I even liked about how I looked. With the new POPFLEX swim release, Cassey shared a piece of her own self-image journey and her relationship with swimwear. Her openness inspired me to share my own story. 

Especially since it’s how I found Blogilates. And eventually, myself. 

Although we all have our own struggles, I hope these stories shared in the Blogilates community resonate and help you know that if you struggle with body image, you are not alone. 

Trigger Warning: This story is about my personal experience with body image issues. If you are going through this struggle currently, you may not be in a good mental place to read this article. If this sounds like you, we recommend that you seek the help of a mental health professional. You deserve to be loved. That includes love from yourself. ❤️

Body image issues start young

In fifth grade, I remember staring at a picture from a friend’s birthday party and thinking, “Wow, I hate how I look.” I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that what you look like doesn’t determine your worth. But of course, it was different then. 

The early 2010s were the era of skinny-chic and fat shaming. The Disney Channel stars I idolized were bone-thin. When they weren’t, these teenage actors were shamed horribly by the industry. 

My love of fashion started young, but it was clear that to be in the industry, you had to be beautiful. At this time, that meant you had to be model-thin. I thought that I couldn’t be into fashion if I didn’t look like a fashion person. (Which news flash, even “fashion people” don’t really look like that IRL; thanks, airbrushed magazine covers 🙄).

To start getting “in shape,” I started dancing. But, as much as I loved movement and performing, the dance industry was just as toxic. At the ripe age of 12 years old, I had to face the reality that the two things I loved most had one thing in common; they unofficially had a maximum weight requirement. 

The weight loss journey begins

In my late middle school and early high school years, I spent extensive hours searching for “dancer body workouts” and “model fitness routines.” 

I wanted to look like the girls who were successful at what I wanted to be good at because I thought that was the only way to get there. 

I associated my success in fashion and dance with what I looked like because everyone who was respected and well-known in those industries looked a certain way. 

As a freshman in high school, I discovered Blogilates when I searched “Victoria’s Secret Workout” on YouTube and found an ab workout video from Cassey’s early days of social media. 

Cassey’s videos really opened the door to the world of YouTube fitness. At first, it was a spiral. I was doing the right thing for my body, but for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. I went from being the non-athletic friend to obsessively working out in my basement. 

Through it all, I found that Cassey’s positivity in her videos made my closeted workout sessions less of a form of self-punishment and more of an enjoyable way to move my body. It was like chatting with a friend at the gym.

By doing Pilates, I found joy in movement that was dance-inspired.

It became a way to build the foundation for a more positive relationship with exercise, instead of suffering through HIIT workouts that I absolutely loathed, but did anyway because I thought it would burn the most calories. 

Better yet, I was able to see how Cassey’s fitness journey changed over the years. I saw that she had gone through a similar journey; the ups and downs that all of us have felt. It was comforting to see acknowledgment that even fitness professionals with a huge platform have the same struggles as those who follow them. 

We were going through it together. I wasn’t alone.

kristen kubek wearing popflex pirouette skort

Fast forward to today

Now I’m a contributing writer for Blogilates, helping to create a positive narrative around wellness that I wish I’d found earlier. I’m a fitness instructor who takes plenty of rest days. I don’t feel guilty when I eat an entire Costco muffin in one sitting (even if I didn’t work out that day). 

It took a lot of work to get here. 

But it gets easier. Every. Single. Day. 

After years of recovery, reflection, and practicing self-love, I found balance. Now I use movement not to make my body look a certain way, but to feel my best. I have a body-neutral approach, meaning I acknowledge that it’s okay to not like what my body looks like all the time because my physical appearance is such a small part of who I am.

It also really helps that unlike in the early 2010s, the fashion industry has gotten a lot more diverse. (The dance industry has too, to an extent. But there’s still a lot of progress to be made on both fronts). 

I am so grateful for those who have paved the way when it comes to rejecting the concept that beauty, grace, and success have a particular look.

kristen kubek rome

How it started vs. how it’s going

I found Blogilates because I didn’t like my body. I stayed because, through Cassey’s infectiously kind and friendly personality, I was finally able to find joy in movement. 

I hope the same for all of you. The Blogilates community is here for you and is a safe space to share your stories! We hope you feel the love (from us, and from yourself) ❤️.


Source link: by Breanna Woods MS, RD at