1,725 Instagram posts, 23.3 thousand followers and one mission: To advocate for authentic self love. Chelsey Weinmann, the brain behind @healthyhappy_chelsey , is taking over Instagram. Promoting self love, magic, feminism, and body positivity, Weinmann is making a true difference in not only my life but the lives of many women, and men too.
Check out my interview with Weinmann, someone who I admire greatly, here:
1. Who are you? What do you want your followers to know about you?
I am first and foremost a lover. I love hard, even if I'm not always the best at showing it. It's often clumsy and even messy, but those that I love always know it. I'm a writer, a friend, an advocate for dancing to lift your mood, a traveler, a scuba diver, and a daughter who loves her family more than anything in the world. I am a believer in magic and the divine, and especially in creating both in your own life. I am a goofy, sensitive, clumsy, loud, body-positive feminist extroverted-introvert who could eat chocolate every single day and lives for sunshine.
2. When did you start posting to your Instagram account, and what was your first post?
I believe my first post to Instagram was about two or three years ago - so much has changed in that time period, I can barely remember. I do remember that I had just gotten my phone - my first iPhone, I'd never had a phone that could access Instagram before. My first post was a picture of me in front of a Christmas tree my family and I picked out a farm. Absolutely nothing to do with fitness or self love, simply a little slice of my life.
3. What made you decide to start documenting your journey to self-love, did you find it hard to express yourself on a public level?
I don't think I ever made the conscious decision to begin posting about self love, I sort of just fell headfirst into it. My account had sort of morphed into a fitness/weight loss page, where I was documenting my journey towards what I saw at the time as being "healthy"...I saw being healthy as a way to practice self love, a concept that wasn't completely new to me but that I had never phrased in just that way before. And even though my version of health at that same was too dependent on control and actually continued to damage my disordered eating and terrible body image, it was the beginning of me coming home to myself and recognizing how much of my depression and anxiety was related to my need for genuine self love and active self care. My fitness account began to change over time to reflect that, and in a way I'm thankful for the mistakes I made on my journey, because it has brought me to a healthier, steadier place over time. One in which I feel safe exploring what self love, care, and acceptance mean to me.
4. When was your lowest point in your self-love journey and how did you recover from it?
My fitness journey, and what I now recognize as the beginning of my journey towards self love and wellness, began because of a few monumental shifts and upsets in my life.
I had graduated college in 2013, moved briefly to Costa Rica and then back to Portland for graduate school, and was in the middle of a horribly toxic breakup with the man I had always thought I was going to marry, that dragged on for over a year and nearly cost me my belief in love. I tried to keep my sanity by throwing myself headfirst into my grad classes, until I was too overworked and exhausted to think much. The rest of my time was completely filled with calorie counting, meal planning, and mandatory workouts.
To a lot of people, I seemed very happy and in control of my life. The problem was, I was so focused on controlling every aspect of my life, particularly my body, that whenever I lost just a little bit of that control I would fall apart. I was so dependent on getting over my pain and my heartbreak that I didn't see I was replacing it with more pain, with eating habits and rules that were so obsessive I couldn't function without them. I saw this control as a form of self love, of trying to take care of myself, but I was so desperately unhappy. I sought validation from others, especially men, I binged on food not listed on my strict meal plans and cried with guilt after throwing it back up, I barely knew how to stay on top of the pain unless I was working out or planning my next workouts. It brought up a lot of past pain for me as well, reminders of days when I was at my absolute lowest, reminders of past traumas and struggles that I'm still unfolding and learning to work through.
My self love was so forced and not genuine, because I wasn't trying to work through my pain, I was simply trying to bury it far enough down that I didn't have to deal with it. And that ended up hurting much worse, for a much longer period of time.
5. What are you goals for the future regarding your Instagram account?
Instagram, as strange as it may sound, has been one of the biggest blessings for me over the past couple of years. It has allowed me to find communities of people, especially women, who are cultivating movements of self love, self care, and body positivity. I have made friends through Instagram, some of whom have become some of the most important women in my life. I have met people struggling through many of the same issues I have, and been fortunate enough to act both as a mentor and to be mentored through that social media platform. I would never have imagined that so many people would be drawn to my story and my words, and I am overwhelmed with the love and support I have experienced and filled with so much love for the people who have trusted me enough to tell me their stories.
My experiences with Instagram and the people it has connected me with has allowed me to explore my passion of working with women to support healing, self love, and genuine wellness. I will continue to use it as a platform to spread those messages, but I am now interested in expanding to work with women on a more one-on-one basis. I would love to be able to help women on their journeys on a more personal level, to show them that they are capable of rewriting their own stories and are deserving of their own love, compassion, energy, and effort. Too many of us take ourselves for granted, run ourselves into the ground for others, fail to appreciate ourselves as powerhouses of light and love and ultimate badassery. I want to continue finding ways to connect with women, in order to help them connect with themselves. I will always be so grateful for how this social media app has allowed me to do just that.
6. What is your best advice for those struggling with self acceptance and self love?
Take it a day at a time. It's not going to happen overnight, and it's not an automatic fix-all solution. It's a choice you have to make every single day, it's deciding you are worth the energy and the work it takes to finally, finally give yourself the love you have always given to others. We are all recovering from our own traumas, our struggles, our own hardships and anger and pain, and there is no timeline that we must meet for healing. There is no one way to heal, no one way to practice self care, no one way to give yourself love. You are allowed to have bad days and you are allowed to fall apart sometimes. The way you learn to love yourself and the journeys that you take along the way will not look like everyone else's, and that's absolutely fine. You are your own fabulous, fierce, gorgeous soul, you are on your own journey and you are always, always worth the effort and the energy.
As hard as it may be to internalize, know you are already and always, always enough.
Love Weinmann's posts? Follow @healthyhappy_chelsey on Instagram.