Jen Widerstrom, the brains behind our 40-Day Crush Your Goals Challenge, is known for being a fitness expert and trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser and the author of Diet Right for Your Personality Type.
But what really makes her a fan-favorite is that she's never afraid to get real about body image—including the nontraditional transformation photo she recently shared to prove an important point.
"I was going through all the pictures from my Kauai trip and when I saw the one on the right and I was devasted…even disgusted by the photo of myself," she wrote. "I thought, 'What is going on with my stomach and what was I thinking wearing a two-piece bathing suit in front of all these people, taking all these pictures?'"
But after looking at the timestamps on the photos, Widerstrom realized they were only taken a couple of hours apart. "I realized that photo was taken the same day as the before photo on the left, JUST 3 hours later," she wrote. "The difference is one we need to immerse ourselves in, and embrace as a culture."
In the photo on the left, Widerstrom says she'd just worked out, was dehydrated and on an empty stomach. "I'm contracted in my core from laughing and plus landed some killer lighting," she wrote. "An image most of us try to sustain throughout every day, for every photo, throughout every week of our year."
The photo on the right, on the other hand, is a picture of true health, she says. "It displays me having hydrated myself, eaten a protein smoothie and hearty salad as well as in the midst of belly breathing," she wrote. "Our most natural, fundamental, nourishing breath."
It's no secret that social media—and Instagram in particular—are largely aspirational platforms. (That's why it's been called the worst social media platform for your mental health.) Our feeds are often flooded with before-and-after photos, where we're told that the photos on the right are what we should aspire to be. They reflect our perfectly curated 'best selves.' But Widerstrom is reminding us that expecting to look like that all the time simply isn't realistic and can be detrimental to your body image.
"I want to remind you all, (as I had to remind myself!!) NOT to embrace the photo on the left but instead the one IN US ALL on the right," she wrote. "One of health and happiness and peace within our own skin when we take care of ourselves and let go of that 'suck it in syndrome.'"
It's amazing to see trainers like Widerstrom continue to share such vulnerable photos of themselves to prove that nobody has perfectly sculpted six-pack abs all the time. In her own words: "The pressure stops when we remove the expectation of how we're supposed to look for the world and just get to be in our bodies for us."
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter
This article originally appeared on Shape.com