So-called "fitspirational” accounts on social media make it seem like having sick-pack abs and single-digit bodyfat percentage is the key to happiness, but one former bodybuilder shut down that perception with her reverse transformation.
"Bodybuilder to body lover", Montana-based Jolene Jones wrote in a now-viral Facebook post of two photos: one of her during a bodybuilding competition and the other of her body today with 25 additional pounds.
"This isn't your typical transformation photo,” she added in the post. "I went from being controlled by my gruelling gym regimen and weighing chicken and having protein shakes in my purse to fully enjoying a social life.”
The 25-year-old’s was introduced to bodybuilding by her coach.
"I had reached a slump in the gym and wasn’t motivated to go, so my coach thought it would be a good idea to give me a goal to work towards,” she tells Metro. But training soon took over her life.
"There is a dark side to fitness, or I should say there can be,” she says. "I always had to put the gym and my nutrition before everything, which mentally isn’t healthy. I would spend every Sunday meal prepping food for the next week, which always took a few hours, and I would also practice walking in my heels and posing for a minimum of an hour on Sundays.”
"Everything is built around food and the gym,” she adds. "There is no room for error, because ultimately those little cheats could end up to being a few pounds and that’s how you lose a show.”
Her mindshift shifted when she realized even being at a "goal” weight didn’t automatically equal happiness.
"I knew it wasn’t for me when I had to drop 30 pounds and I just couldn’t do it,” she says. “And I didn’t want to. Why? Why do that to my body? So I could gain it all back and be in a bad mental place? Just because you lose weight doesn’t mean you lose bad body image.”
Her mindset shift took time and included viewing exercise for enjoyment instead of a competition.
"It was allowing myself to be fully in the moment of wherever I was and enjoying it,” she says of the process. "I started counting hikes as exercise, volleyball with friends, walking my dog and days spent out at the lake swimming.”
Her decision to make her reverse transformation post now came from her own reaction to her weight gain.
"When I initially saw the picture I was disgusted,” she admits. "But then I thought, Why? My body is amazing and it does so much for me daily that I need to be thankful. I felt inspired to share because it was a moment of clarity.
The reaction has been "amazing,” she says. "I shared it more for myself, and didn’t think I would get the reaction I had,” she says.
Jones says she’s on a hiatus from the gym — she hasn’t been in one for six years — and instead takes her workouts to her "playground,” Glacier National Park.
"I made a bucket list of hikes for this summer and I’m so excited to accomplish them.”