These '10-Year Challenge' Fitness Transformations Prove Everyone Starts Somewhere
These transformation stories will inspire you to embark on a fitness journey, no matter your current situation.
If you love a transformation, then you hit the motherlode over the past few days. Thanks to the viral "10-year challenge" (sometimes referred to as the "How hard did aging hit you?" challenge-harsh), everyone's posting a 2019 photo alongside one from 10 years ago to their social media. Some are funny (Amy Schumer), some are inspirational (Sophia Amoruso), and some suggest it's possible to just opt out of aging. (Reese Witherspoon, just how?)
We're partial to health and fitness transformations, and the challenge has sparked many, accompanied by reflections that go far deeper than weight loss or muscle tone. Here are some dramatic before-and-afters that you need to see.
Transformations aren't just about weight loss.
Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness looks way different from her 2009 self, but the changes go beyond the physical, she explained. "What a difference 10 years can make," she wrote in her caption. "Needless to say a lot has changed, but the most important change for me... my confidence. And that's about a lot more than just the weight loss. It's growth. It's learning to love yourself inside and out from the start, not when you reach a goal."
It's never too late to start.
In her transformation photo, trainer Natalie Jill pointed out that she's "not just another 'fitness girl'" in that she didn't take up fitness until the age of 39, which is considered late according to society's standards. In her earlier photo, she was "a divorced single mom, broke, overweight," who had come on some hard times, but in the second she's smiling from the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers.
Fitness journeys aren't linear.
Trainer Brittne Babe posted two photos 10 years apart, noting that working toward a fitness goal is a learning experience. "My journey is continuous and went from weight loss, to weight gain, to less muscle, to now more muscle mass," she explained. "I began genetically thin and throughout my teenage years, my diet was horrible, which led to unhealthy habits and poor dieting. Once I identified who I no longer wanted to be, my health and fitness journey began." Now, she's starting to understand her body more, but still has ups and downs, she explained.
It takes work.
As easy as it might look on Instagram, trainers aren't born super-fit humans. "When people see me now, they have the misconception that I've always been this fit; assuming that I am gifted with some miraculous genetic predisposition," trainer Adrianne Nina wrote in a post. "The image on the left is a young version of myself that was not health conscious and wasn't aware of any reasoning to be. At that time, I had no vision of becoming who I am today. It was 7 years ago when I decided to make my health and fitness a priority. The contrast between the two is evidence of my ongoing efforts to be the best version of myself."
You might look back and laugh.
Camille Leblanc-Bazinet, a complete badass who's won the CrossFit games, pointed out that she started doing CrossFit with room for improvement. She poked fun at herself with hashtags like #rockingrunningshoestolift and #usedmostlymyfacemuscletolift. "It's okay to look ugly, it's okay to fail, it's okay to get frustrated and it's okay to feel lonely..." she wrote, "it's just not okay to give up!! And also never take yourself too seriously that you can't look back and have a good laugh at your younger overachiever and oh so serious and intense self."
Love yourself at every step.
Anna Victoria of Fit Body shared her 10-year journey before the challenge was even a thing, so she came back with an 11-year transformation. Victoria explained that she adopted a more balanced lifestyle over the years, going from eating only fast food to the 80/20 eating style, avoiding the gym to working out, and from partying to enjoying wine occasionally. She also pointed out that shooting for fitness goals and being body positive aren't mutually exclusive. "No matter how much I did or didn't weigh, I never let it faze me and question my worth," she wrote.
Fitness can transform your mental health.
Massy Arias (@mankofit) credits exercise for helping her overcome a period when she was so depressed she would lock herself indoors. (And later helping her through postpartum depression.) She touched on that journey in a 10-year challenge photo. "I started working out and eating healthy as a way to cope with depression, lack of self-confidence and purpose in life," she wrote. "It became my passion and my medicine. Today my passion has become my career."
You might feel completely changed.
Fitness model and bodybuilder Michelle Lewin posted an old bikini photo alongside one with "more boobies, more waist, and so much more wisdom." Lewin has become one of the biggest fitness influencers in the world, but she says she lost a beauty competition 10 years ago because she "was the fullest girl," she wrote.
Don't assume you're not the "type" who exercises.
Within the last 10 years, Melissa Alcantara realized that assuming you're not the "type" to try a certain workout will just keep holding you back. "23-year-old me learned a lesson or two (hundred) in these last 10 years," she wrote. "The most important lesson of all was to never say 'I'm not the type of person who' what a crock lol." Alcantara is the ultimate reminder that everyone starts somewhere. She got into weight training by learning from YouTube videos and now trains Kim Kardashian.
Self-image transformations can be just as dramatic.
10 years ago Julianne Hough was super fit-she was a pro on Dancing with the Stars after all-but her mentality has transformed. In the older photo, she sported "bleach blonde hair, fake tan, all the makeup, sequins galore." Now, she's less attached to trying to fit a mold. (She realized that no matter what you look like, you'll never impress everyone...and do you really even want to?) "The past 10 years have been all about removing the idea of who I thought I was supposed to be, and uncovering the essence of who I am," she wrote in her caption. "I've learned how to just be me. My natural, raw, unapologetic self."
A small goal can spiral into something huge.
Cassey Ho may have a huge following devoted to her Pilates workouts, but that wasn't always the case. Pop Pilates (the official pilates class of 24 Hour Fitness gyms developed by Ho) posted an Instagram with photos of Ho, one working out in her parents' basement "doing #POPPilates before anyone even knew what it was," and another of her leading 4,000 people through a workout. Ho previously revealed that her path to fitness wasn't completely smooth. She didn't speak with her father for a few years since he disapproved of her career choice.
The struggle is worth it.
A decade ago Beachbody trainer Autumn Calabrese was just getting started in the fitness space-working with Mighty Mommies, according to her 10-year challenge post-but a lot has happened between now and then. "There was a move to another state (I lasted 5 weeks & moved back to LA with dom when he was 6 months old), there was a divorce, there were a lot of chances that didn't work out in my career, friends made, friends lost, moving to different apartments, living paycheck to paycheck, long nights and longer days," she wrote. "There was work and sacrifice. Was it worth it? Absa-frigen-lutely."
You're already enough.
Over the span of 10 years, Heidi Kristoffer has gained weight and perspective. The creator of CrossFlowX posted photos of herself in handstands with a reflection on how she's changed. In the earlier photos, she had a strong mind and was crushing it career-wise, but was constantly told she wasn't enough, she wrote. Now, things are different, she writes on Instagram: "The woman in the other photos weighs more than she ever thought she would be okay with, and even so is willingly on camera in spandex daily. But, she is equal parts soft and strong, gets to share what she loves and be unapologetically herself every day, is the mama to three incredible tiny humans 3 and under, and understands that she is ENOUGH." (P.S. You must watch this incredible timelapse video of Kristoffer doing yoga throughout her pregnancy.)
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This article originally appeared on Shape.com