Why You Shouldn’t Compare Your Body to an “Instagram Fitness Model”

Hi everyone,

In wake of my Arbonne 30 Days to Healthy Living, I’m inspired to write this piece about the importance of recognizing what we see on the internet as staged, superficial, and anti-reality. I wanted to write this article a while back, but because it is January and this month “diet culture” becomes synonymous with “New Year’s Resolutions”, I want everyone to keep some things in mind while they strive for their 2020 goals – specifically if they are related to health and fitness.

Also as a disclosure – this article is in no way shaming men and women who are dedicated to health and fitness, and/or those who make their business/money from that online. This is for all hard-working people who care deeply about their health and physical fitness, who feel they cannot “live-up” to the standards they see on social media.

Let’s get one thing straight – Instagram is a galaxy of humans young and old wanting to display their BEST selves to all of their peers, colleagues, and family members. Yes, people post for themselves, but deep down people post for validation for the things they are doing. As a member of this generation, I don’t see anything wrong with it. Social media has completely changed the course of online marketing, business, and self-promotion. If I have a great photo of myself, or something I did, ate, drank, saw – I will probably post it somewhere online.

That being said, do I ever post photos of myself I feel ugly in? Of course not. Do I untag myself from friends’ photos I don’t like of myself? Of course I do. No one wants to be seen in their “worst light”. I will add, a lot of the time we are all our own worst critics, so many times what we feel is “ugly”, we don’t actually look ugly. However, the point is, people post the best version of themselves online. And there is nothing wrong with doing that.

Nonetheless, the greatness of social media comes with a sleu of other issues. Seeing everyone’s best version of themselves online every day, at any time of the day can become mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can make you feel like you’re not “doing enough” or “being enough” – either for others, or even yourself. Being recovered from anorexia, I see my favorite dancers and fitness professionals online everyday and think to myself,

“I am not doing as much as their doing. That’s why I haven’t reached their level of success.”

Or their level of beauty. Or their level of fitness, technicality, etc.

It makes me feel terrible if I don’t keep my thoughts in check – If I don’t sit back and take a second to recognize that these images and videos I am seeing are not that person 24/7. No one can uphold the “Instagram standard” every day, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. We are all human and we are all FLAWED (physically, emotionally, mentally – in all capacities). And flaws can be and are beautiful too.

Here is an example. Before I started my 30 Days to Healthy Living, here is an image I took of myself on Snapchat immediately following a HIIT workout.

The image depicts me at a moment where I felt “fit”, at an angle where I felt “showed off” my body in a great way. I had compression pants on and felt put together. The lighting was good, and photo editing apps make filtering the photo to be more appealing really simple and easy.

Is that what my body looks like all the time? No. Now here are some images of me first thing in the morning, before I ate anything, PMSing, hadn’t worked out in three days.

I took these images the first day I started my cleanse last week. These photos were snapped three weeks after the gym photo – totally unrelated to each other. These photos of me I do not like. I wouldn’t really think to post them anywhere because I do NOT like the way I appear in them. Also, you’d think if these were a “before and after” shot, the more recent photos would be first and the gym photo would be most recent.

Reality is – a good angle and good lighting can make anyone appear “better”. Im also not being self-deprecating. I love my body, and I’m a firm believer that muscular definition wouldn’t appear in photographs if it wasn’t truly there. Meaning, the main way to look muscular is to have muscle. So if you see muscular definition, it’s because it’s there. That being said, good lighting and nice filtering can enhance the definition of our muscles or our appearance. We can smooth out fine lines/wrinkles, shrink waistlines, make our skin appear tanner or fairer, etc. Heck, I even increased the color saturation on these photos before I put them into this article!

So next time you’re scrolling through Instagram and see your favorite dancers, athletes, models, whoever – remember their life is not always that glamorous. It is not always picture perfect, with a friend on standby ready to snap gorgeous “candid” photos of you at your best angles in your best light. Instagrams are carefully curated by each owner, and they are meant to display us “living our best lives”.

Wherever you are in your journey – of life, fitness, health, and your goals – you are exactly where you are supposed to be. You are ENOUGH, and no one is uniquely like you, even if their Instagram makes you feel like you’re not in the gym enough/working hard enough. Comparison is the killer of all dreams, and never compare yourself to others because of what you see. Everything online is surface level.

Xoxo

Pegli, Italy – Una Ballerina, Focaccia, e un Caffรจ Latte Macchiato

It’s been so long since I posted on here, and usually October is the month of the year each year I am actively blogging about Halloween, fall activities, and happenings in my life. Usually I am preparing for Nutcracker and drowing in Dunkin pumpkin coffee, but this year is a bit different.

As the weather changes over to autumnal coolness, I am feeling myself yearning to be back in Italy. For the Joffrey Ballet intensive I attended, I stayed in a small beach district of Genova on the Mediterranean coast, called Pegli. I have been missing the beautiful, simple town; the delicious foccacia, pesto, and espresso, and the intense heat of the sun during the long dance days.

My two weeks with the Joffrey School were so magical and enlightening. Not only did I travel – BY MYSELF – to Pegli (which involved a 7 hour flight, THREE train transfers at stations with no escalators, and a 50 lb suitcase), but I trained hard in a beautiful dance studio on a mountain (that had no air conditioning), with people from all over the USA and Italy. I still can’t believe I was brave enough to do all of this on my own, and with my own money.

No one in this district spoke English, so it forced me to use the little Italian I do know, and learn how to speak. Joffrey also equipped us with four Italian language lessons while we were there. I was told I have great pronunciation, and a lot of Italian people believed I’d been speaking Italian for a lot longer than one week!

Here are some images from the district I lived in. I walked up and down the lungomare (path along the sea) after every meal, and admired the scenery, culture, people, and beaches.

I drank an ameretto sour at a beach bar with my roommate late one night, and tried to communicate with our waiter in Italian to figure out if the other waiter was his brother.

“รˆ tuo fratello?”

“Si, mio gemello!”

I made friends with the hotel baristo and he gave me a bottle of the wine I drank every night for free as a parting gift.

I traveled to Milan and toured the Duomo, and the La Scala theater. We toured Genova, and toured the Princess of Genova’s palace, and the Genova Aquarium – the second largest aquarium in the world.

I ate the most bread and pasta I have in my life, and also drank the best coffee I’ve ever had in my life every morning and afternoon! I cosumed so much gelato I’m surprised I didn’t turn into it. My favorite flavor of gelato is yogurt gelato!

We even toured the world’s best, and freshest pesto company greenhouses, and made our own pesto with their family recipe! Genova pesto is known to be the best in the world.

I cannot wait to travel back to Italy to explore more of the country. With this experience under my belt, I am not afraid to travel alone anywhere. I am so thankful for this experience, and will remember it all for the rest of my life. Thank you to the Joffrey Ballet School for this amazing experience, and all of the amazing faculty.

xoxo

July 2019 Happenings!

Hi everyone!

I turned 24 this past week, and I can’t believe I already made another 365-day trip around the sun. This was the first time I was home for my birthday in two years, and it was amazing to be home with my family and close friends. I share the same birthday as my mom, so to be able to be home and celebrate with her, my grandma, my siblings, and my father meant a lot to me!

A lot has happened since I last posted! Remember in my last post how I mentioned I was going on an audition? Well, your girl was invited to join the company she auditioned for, and tomorrow will mark our third rehearsal together for the summer! It’s very exciting to think I am starting with a new performance group (based out of NYC), who has such an important mission that is near and dear to my heart.

Related: May 2019 Life Update

This specific company is dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders, and de-stigmatizing mental health. As someone who considers herself a recovered anorexic, and someone who struggled with anxiety her whole life, joining this team of artists means THE WORLD to me. I am so excited for our season. We have so many amazing projects lined up for the summer and fall!

Related: How Dance Helped Me Survive Anorexia and Literally Everything Else

I leave for Joffrey Italy in LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!! I literally CANNOT BELIEVE I AM GOING! I prayed for a year for an opportunity to dance and travel, and last minute went to the Joffrey audition, and then was accepted into the Italy location! Life is so funny with the way it works! I can’t wait to travel, train, and experience Italian culture right on the Mediterranean.

Related: Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive

Another cool thing I did recently was get another piercing! I wanted my septum pierced for a while and decided to pull the trigger and go get it done a week and a half before my birthday. This way, it would have a whole month to heal before I leave for Italy. I LOVE how it came out! The piercing is a titanum horseshoe because I can flip it into my nose to hide it. I had it anodized rose gold to match my nipple rings ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha. I adore it, and it’s been healing well. I can’t wait for it to heal completely so I can wear cute clickers and other jewelry.

Related: Julia – You Got WHAT Pierced?!

I’m feeling really optimistic about the future, and my coming adventures in Italy and NYC. I’ve been working and trying to enjoy my time home before I jet set off for four weeks to train. 24 is already giving me great energy, and I can’t wait to see where I am next year when I turn 25 (that is a SCARY number oh my gosh).

I hope I can write more, and at least make a post or two while I am in Italy! If not, I will definitely be posting when I get back to the states and after my NYC intensive. I hope you all are enjoying your summer vacations, travels, and adventures!

Xoxo

May 2019 Life Update

WOW it’s been a minute since I posted on this account, and for that I am deeply apologetic. Life has been throwing me curve balls left and right, and I’ve been working and training a LOT in preparation for my summer.

Here are some of my recent activities, endeavors, and favorites for you all to see what I’ve been up to!

Orange Theory Fitness

A brand new Orange Theory Fitness opened very close to my home town. If you don’t know what Orange Theory is, it is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness program. I’ve been curious about OTF for about a year now, and was SO SICK of my old gym membership. I have a membership at Crunch Fitness, and my schedule is so busy, I was barely using it. When I did go to the gym, I was so unmotivated to work out hard because it was late at night. I spend so much time preparing and teaching classes for clients and students, that the last thing I wanted to do at the end of the day was go to the gym and create an intense workout for myself to complete. In addition, the classes at my home gym are AWFUL.

For those reasons. I bought an OTF membership before they opened, and have been going for about a month now. I LOVE it. I plan on writing a whole post about Orange Theory and how I am running faster and rowing faster than I ever have before. This workout yields serious results. It’s fun, and because I spend a pretty penny on it, it forces me to go. I love working out in a group setting (that’s probably the dancer in me), so to be in a large group with everyone’s workout stats visible and updating in real time, it motivates me to work really hard. Another reason why I joined Orange Theory was to prepare my body for the intensity of my summer training. – see below for more on my summer dance training!

Pure Barre Training*

I am not sure if I mentioned this to you all, but the Xtend Barre I worked at closed very abruptly and permanently back in February. I was very upset because I just passed my test-out in October of 2018, and invested a lot of time and money into being a great barre instructor. I was reluctant, but a new owner bought our old space, and is turning it into a Pure Barre! He reached out to me, offered me a position, and I am being re-trained in Pure Barre method starting on Monday. I can’t wait! Pure Barre as a company has a much better corporate organization and structure, and the workout is very intense. It is also very different than Xtend Barre training. I miss teaching Xtend, but I am very excited for this new adventure.

*My opinion is not the opinion of Pure Barre, and does not reflect the opinions of the company. All opinions are my own*

Auditions

After a VERY stressful and somewhat awful audition back in April, I’ve been taking some time away from auditioning. I was auditioning at least once a week since January, and to be honest, I am feeling a bit burnt out. I don’t like when dance/performance becomes a source of an unhealthy amount of stress. That being said, I haven’t auditioned for anything in about a month. But in typical Julia fashion, I have an audition this Saturday evening for a company I am very interested in working with. I am looking forward to this audition because it is for concert, contemporary work instead of commercial work which is what I’ve been focusing on the last few months. Hopefully all goes well – I am looking forward to the opportunity.

Photo by Tim Lytvinenko

Summer Dance Training

As you all know, I am attending Joffrey Ballet School in Genoa, Italy this summer, and the Peridance Capezio BLUEPRINT summer intensive in NYC. I’ve been working full-time between all of my jobs to save and pay for my trips! I am currently looking to book my flight to Italy, and then I am basically all set to go! I can’t believe I’m going to live in Italy for two weeks, and then hop right on a plane back to NYC to train with some amazing choreographers and perform in a show! I am looking forward to all of my experiences this summer!

I will hopefully have more time to post as the recital season draws near, and my studio teaching comes to a close for the summer. Life is really busy right now, but I am excited to see what is in store for the rest of 2019!

How are your 2019 goals coming along? What are you working towards, and what are you doing every day to bring you closer to those goals?

Xoxo

Long2 Final Showcase and My First Solo Performance

Hi beauties!

If you recall, around this time last year I was invited to join a second company in NYC. Our season ran from October 2018 until March 13, 2019 (last week), and I wanted to share some photos and thoughts about that experience.

Related: My First NYC Dance Job Starts This Fall! (2018)

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

Long2 is the second company to Vanessa Long Dance Company which is based out of New York City. The opportunity to join came the day after I was cut from her main company audition. It was such a thrill to be asked to participate.

We performed a studio showing at the end of February at the Alvin Ailey studios in NYC, and our final showcase was at the Tank Theater in NYC on March 13. Not only did I perform choreography and repertory from her company and other choreographers who set work, I also performed my first SOLO ever which happened to be self-choreographed!

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

It was a very empowering experience to perform a solo for the first time – in a NYC theater – that was self-created. My solo is titled “Joe” and is a dance celebrating my grandma and grandpa’s relationship and love for each other. The dance is set to the song I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me by Billie Holiday. I edited and mixed an interview with my grandma over the track as well. In the song, my grandma tells a story of how she realized my grandpa liked her back as they bonded over playing piano at their school.

This weekend, I am performing with my other company in Hudson Valley, NY. I have the opportunity to perform “Joe” again, and I am very excited to do so! I changed some of the choreography, and I will be dressed in 1940s/1950s fashion which will fit the theme of the piece much better than what I wore for the show in NYC.

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

This experience was fun, and has connected me to the NYC dance network better than I could have imagined. I am very grateful and thankful for my time with Long2, and look forward to new auditions and opportunities that will arise this spring. I will also be auditioning for her main company again in April!

I hope to take good footage of “Joe” at my show this weekend, and if I do, I will post it to YouTube and post the video in this post. Dance is such an amazng part of my life experience, and I am forever grateful for the way it heals me.

Photography Credit: Marisa Augustine
Alvin Ailey Studios February 27

Write again soon!

xoxo