Accepting our physical appearance and developing an authentic sense of self-love is a life long struggle for most of humanity and especially women. In a world dominated by social media, over the past 20 years bloggers and influencers have taken online platforms by storm promoting beauty standards that are, in their majority, unrealistic. Now, more than ever children grow up in a society that sometimes holds rigid standards of beauty, femininity, and masculinity.
While “filtered” and “altered” looks seem to be constantly on the rise, a movement of body positive social-media influencers is here to stay, paving the way towards diversity, confidence and relatability. Greek Australian Instagram body-positive influencer Alexia Katra known as @alexias_journey_ is one such source of content inspiring people struggling with their weight with videos, images, and messages that serve as public reminders that our differences are to be celebrated and that overcoming our weaknesses can turn into our biggest strengths.
Under her posts, likes and shared by hundreds and thousands of people, there are dozens of emotional comments by followers that find solace and motivation in her realness.
THE MOMENT THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING
“I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life. I’ve been on and off diets, but never fully committed to a sustainable lifestyle change,” Alexia tells Neos Kosmos.
“In 2017-2018, I reached my heaviest weight and I realised that I needed to make a change for both my physical and mental health. The pivotal moment for me was when I saw a picture of myself and I didn’t recognise the person in the photo. I knew I needed to take action.”
Alexia, who is happily married and mother of 7-year-old Alexander, wanted to be able to be a positive example for her son, while increasing her energy levels and mobility in order to be a more present wife and mother. Ensuring that her health improved is also a pivotal motivator, especially as she has been struggling with her weight since early childhood.
“My family has been incredibly supportive of my journey, and my partner has been my biggest cheerleader,” Alexia enthuses.
“I’ve made sure to involve them in my journey and make it a family effort by cooking healthy meals together and finding physical activities we can do as a family. That helped me stay on track and motivated, and also helped me keep a balance in my life.”
Proud of her Greek heritage and culture, growing up, she recalls memories where she was always surrounded by delicious traditional Greek food.
“There was always an emphasis on family meals together,” she says, adding that Mediterranean and especially Greek cuisine is the healthiest in the world, something that children growing up in a fast-food dominated environment can’t often comprehend unless the value of healthy eating is instilled in them early on.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TIMES YOU FALL BUT THE TIMES YOU KEEP GETTING UP
Most of the weight-loss influencers are vocal about having tried multiple avenues, often unsuccessfully, from different styles of dieting to intermittent fasting, from fast-tracked gym programs to at-home workouts, before finding the methods and eating regimes that work with their own unique health profiles, measurements and lifestyles. Part of their success is being realistic about what is achievable in the long run, Alexia stresses, highlighting that there will be more losses than wins but that half of the victory is ensuring one keeps getting back on their feet.
“The biggest rewards have been not just the physical changes such as weight loss, but also the improvement in my overall health, such as lower blood pressure and better sleep. Additionally, the boost in self-confidence and self-esteem have been invaluable,” Alexia explains.
Hitting walls while trying to drop pounds to the point you want to throw in the towel just means you’re human, she insists, adding that part of winning is playing the long game and losing the shame and judgement that comes with difficulty overcoming the challenges that you are faced with.
“Losing weight is hard, and it’s even harder for women than men, thanks to metabolic and hormonal differences according to a multitude of medical researches. I realised that my mindset towards weight loss needed to change. Instead of thinking of it as a quick fix or a temporary solution, I needed to view it as a lifelong journey. I also stopped being so hard on myself and adopted a more positive outlook, focusing on progress rather than perfection,” Alexia says.
“I still have moments where I struggle and slip up. One of my biggest challenges has been dealing with emotional eating. I’ve had to learn how to cope with stress and negative emotions in healthier ways. For me to grow and get over my fears I need to be in them and in the moment. Instead of running away I have to face them.”
Covid was one of the most mentally, psychologically and physically challenging moments in Alexia’s life, who like most, lost motivation when her trips to the gym and a line of healthy activities were taken away, replaced by endless days at home. During the lockdowns she found herself slipping up and regaining weight.
“After letting myself slip up for such a long time and gain so much weight back I’ve felt terrible in my own skin but I’m learning that this journey is more than losing weight, it’s about self discovery and personal growth,” she admits. “It’s about making healthy choices and taking control of your health and well-being. It’s about learning to love and accept yourself, no matter what your weight may be. On this journey I’ve discovered new passions and interests, and developed a deeper understanding of myself. The journey is not linear.”
FOUR YEARS OF SLOW, BUT DETERMINED PROGRESS
Since embarking on her three year weight loss journey, excluding the on-and-off moments, Alexia has lost over 11 kilos (about 25 pounds), having adopted a regular exercise routine, and making sure she eats a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
“I make sure to track my progress and set achievable goals for myself. Surrounding myself with a supportive community, online or offline helps me a lot.
“It has taught me discipline and consistency, and helped me learn more while developing a more positive mindset towards myself and towards life in general.”
Her advice would be to start small, be kind, patient and focus on progress rather than perfection. For Alexia, it’s important to find a balance between a healthy diet and regular exercise, and not to put too much pressure on yourself.
One of the most valuable lessons she has learned is that everyone’s weight loss journey is different and that what works for one person may not work for another.
“It’s about learning to love your body and respect it for what it can do, rather than criticising it for what it looks like. Surround yourself with a supportive community, whether online or offline.”
“We always need to remember that weight loss is not a destination, but a lifelong journey. We will slip up, we will make mistakes and we will restart, who cares how many times! Weight loss is about finding a balance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, rather than just reaching a specific weight or size,” says Alexia.