Elianne Alexander wasn't always a fitness influencer posting fun workouts and body-positive memes. Here, she shares how it took her 16 years to really understand what it means to be healthy and confident.
Fitness influencer Elianne Alexander has spent the past year and a half lifting the veil off #fitspo and inspiring people to strive for a healthy lifestyle instead of a certain look. One glance at her Instagram and you might assume that health and wellness come easily to her. But she'll be the first to admit that the journey to get to this place has been anything but easy. (Related: 10 Fit Women Proving That the Idealism Behind the "Perfect Body" Is Utter Nonsense)
In a recent Instagram post, the cofounder of Fit With Bae opened up about the incredible transformation she's undergone over the past 16 years. She shared her experience going from dangerously thin, to overweight, and now, finally at a healthy, happy weight by successfully balancing her cravings and making fitness a priority in her everyday life.
20 years old: Mix of binge eating followed by days of "cleansing" aka: not eating. I never worked out, but I never thought I was "thin enough". I could see my ribs, but that was always my goal. Back then, I NEVER thought my outlook was unhealthy. 23 years old: just had a baby, gained 95 pounds. If you've ever met me, you know I have a VERY small frame. Simple daily actions like walking up and down the stairs felt difficult and exhausting. I went on a diet and consumed only 20 grams of carbs/day (I did this for 2 years straight, and yes I was VERY strict about those 20 grams). This was unhealthy! For the next 10 years, I couldn't find balance. Bottom line: I wasn't happy. 36 years old: I'm not striving to "see my ribs", or get a "thigh gap", or a "bikini bridge". I'm certainly not trying to get rid of a "hip dip" either. Seriously, who comes up with these damn beauty standards? I'm happy, I eat intuitively and work out regularly. I'm not trying to achieve a physical goal, I'm enjoying life. I fell in love with fitness when I stopped paying attention to the trends. I don't need to prove to anyone that I'm "real". I don't need to take a highly unflattering photo and post it captioning "look at me, I'm imperfect, I'm real, I love my flaws,..." Honestly, I'm here to tell you this: Strength FEELS great! Body image trends will come and go, ignore them! Be motivated and inspired by what you can do, rather than by how you look. Life is too short to worry about all the petty stuff. If you're here for fitness motivation, then have faith, and take it from me: you CAN do it! Fitness should be about health and strength. You've got one life, take control and give it your best effort. Screw the beauty standards, don't lose your focus: get up, work out, eat healthy, FEEL the strength, and do it for YOU!- - - #transformation #beforeandafter #trend #strength #doitforyou #beautystandards #bopo
"When I was younger, I thought the more bones you saw, the more attractive a woman was," Alexander tells us exclusively. "That was my definition of beauty."
Health wasn't the priority for her at the time—especially since her life revolved around the desire to look a certain way. "The thought of hitting the gym never crossed my mind when I was 20," she says. "Instead, I would just not eat for periods at a time and eventually binge eat because I was starving."
The vicious cycle continued until Elianne got pregnant at 23 years old. "I was so underweight that my doctor said I was too unhealthy to carry a child to term."
I just booked my next beach vacation and I'm the happiest person on Earth!!! - - -PS: also... guess who rehearses in the same exact space in which we're hosting next weekend's #FitWithBAE event???? BEYONCÉ!!!!!! And Barbara Streisand!!! ummm yeah! I think we should invite them! - - - #queenbee #FitwithBAE #fangirl #excited #baecation #beachvacation #sarasota #floridabeaches #lifeisabeach #lifestyleblogger #travelblogger #gulfbeaches #beachtime #cantwait #ritzcarlton #soexcited
At that point, she knew something had to change and finally started eating more—but didn't' realize that "eating for two" is actually a misconception. She ended up gaining 90+ pounds, and she says this made her feel more disconnected with her body than ever before. "Not only did I not feel good about myself because I was the heaviest I'd ever been, but because my frame was so small it was very difficult for me to carry that weight," she tells us. "Something as simple as walking a mile was hard for me."
In an attempt to lose the weight and gain some strength, Alexander decided to try the Atkins diet and also began doing some basic cardio at the gym. While the strict low-carb diet may have kick-started her weight loss, she ended up sticking with it for two years before trying cleanses and then struggling with yo-yo dieting for the eight years that followed. "I will still so afraid of gaining weight again," she says. "I would drink all sorts of different juices and mix concoctions just so I wouldn't have to eat solid food." (Related: This Fitness Blogger Proves Weight Is Just a Number)
Let's talk about food baby... let's talk about you and me... . So many of you have asked about what I eat. I'll start by saying this: I don't always make the right choices when it comes to food. However: I know what's good for me and I know what's not. In the past, I tracked my food intake obsessively, while radically suppressing certain macronutrients. THAT didn't make me happy. Here's the conclusion I've reached after reading A TON of books on nutrition: it really is about the "quality" of the food you eat, and not so much the "quantity". Easiest example: Diet Coke! If you go by the nutritional label, it's almost as good as water (except: it has a higher pH than battery acid and can easily lift grime off a toilet bowl! ). After taking into account "quality", it really boils down to "what" we eat. My opinion: that should be individualized. I followed an elimination diet a while back and found out I'm sensitive to: dairy, gluten, eggs, alcohol, acidic foods (peppers, tomatoes,...), onions, and soy. Unfortunately, regardless of how "organic", all of those affect my body in a very negative way (it's a struggle!). What I eat and don't eat works for me, but won't necessarily work for everyone else. That being said, here's what I typically like to adhere to: - don't count macros (for the sake of my own mental sanity, I'm not training to compete any time soon) - "try" to avoid the foods that make me feel like utter crap (operative word: TRY). - factor in my workouts when planning meals: -pre-workout: High carbs and some protein; -post workout: protein and fats!; -DOMS=bananas bananas and more bananas!... - -Anyways, my point with all of this: listen to your body, figure out what works for YOU, and listen to that little voice inside that tells you "put it down! don't eat that crap!". Last but not least: unless you're about to step on stage or are prepping for a photo shoot, don't take the macro counting too too seriously, it can drive you nuts, and mental sanity should comes first - - - #health #nutrition #food #diet #macros #healthyfood #allergies #foodsensitivities #eliminationdiet
It wasn't till August 2015, when she fell in love with group fitness, that her perspective started to change. "By becoming involved in the fitness community, I learned a ton about the body, stopped looking for a certain physique, and no longer felt the need to dissect my body the way I used to," she says. (Related: Should You Workout Alone or With a Group?)
Now her drive and commitment stem from how she feels, not how she looks. "My goals now are focused on what my body can do and accomplish versus what I want to see in the mirror," she says. "That just doesn't matter to me anymore."
Morning acro fun with @sylvie.curci and @jess.glazer whoever said body weight isn't challenging? hmmmm... thanks for spotting us and joining in on the fun @namastache (yes we recruited a bendy innocent bystander! And now we have a new friend! ) - -Incidentally, have you guys checked out @nysc 's new location in Union Square? it's gorgeous!!! that's where we'll be playing!! - -oh yeah, one last thing: I know you guys will ask about my pants because well... they're gorgeous! so I'll tell you, they're by @ultracoractive which also happens to be the sponsor of our next #FitWithBAE event - - - #acro #partnerworkout #workoutvideo #noequipmentworkout #bodyweightexercises #acroyoga #friends #strongnotskinny #strongwomen #fitfam #fitfriends #nycfitness #coreworkout #fullbodyworkout #nycfit #nysc
And while she's all about giving yourself a break from time to time, she presses on the importance of making fitness and healthy eating a part of your lifestyle. "Fit it into your schedule like it's something you have to do," she says. "You brush your teeth every day, you go to work every day—and working out has to be like that. Make it a habit and not a chore."