The Self Inflicted Shame and Pain of NOT Seeing Progress

It’s #transformationtuesday so naturally what we see are photos of people who have lost weight or made some sort of improvement so that we can cheer them on with muscle emojis, emojis with heart eyes, and the common comments of “…so proud of you!” “You look amazing!” “Wow this is incredible!” And of course there’s nothing wrong with any of that. I’m not hating on it. I used to be on the #progresspic train constantly especially when I first started this account years ago. But what we rarely see is #transformation photos depicting regression because the truth is there’s a lot of self inflicted shame. A few days ago in my #IGstories I had mentioned that there was a something I haven’t told many people about, mostly because I was still learning how to process this emotion, and was trying to think about how to put it into words. So here it goes…

My first set of progress pictures after a 12 week transformation program

My first set of progress pictures after a 12 week transformation program

Life happens, shit happens, dealing with other things in our life that don’t relate to your workouts or how you eat sometimes happens and THAT’S OK!

"I am failure for not sticking to consistently training and for not eating as clean as I should have." This is the story I could be telling myself. This is the opinion that could've turn into a fact. I once heard that our reality is largely made up of our perceptions and beliefs, not facts. And that our ideas and theories are based on experiences and opinions, so much so that we start to create stories from these views and judgements. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So instead of writing a failure story, I chose to look at this set of progress pictures taken a few days ago and tell myself a different story. "Well Jo, you haven't put as much energy into your fitness commitments and IT'S 👌🏾. It doesn't make you less of an example of a strong woman. Since October of last year you were working on recovering from a shoulder injury, rebuilding a marriage that was close to divorce, raising two young women (including an emotional teenager), creating long lasting friendships with women you once felt unworthy to be around, and most importantly going back to school to start a career in health and life coaching that you've been day dreaming about for almost 2 years. Living a HEALTHY LIFE means nourishing all the areas that make you whole. Your fitness is just a part of that. You're a bad ass Jo and you have what it takes to get your groove back. Other areas in your life needed your energy more than you needed to focus on leaning out." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The chatter in your head will try to find meaning in it because this obstacle is clearly telling you that your dream isn't supposed to happen. Remind yourself that society has romanticized a concept of what beauty, fitness, and loving yourself looks like. The power to define what beauty means to you is within you. You are the source of your reality. You are the creator of your story. On this part of #therefinedcollective we're talking about "Loving Yourself in the Skin You're In" and on I've shared 6 very powerful things to do when you're beginning to feel the resistance in loving yourself. #linkinbio ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #TheRefinedCollective series was written in collaboration with several incredible women sharing their positivity and light to the 🌎.

For months, I’ve been trying to overcome the feelings of shame of and the feelings of failure knowing that I gained weight. It has been some of the hardest moments of this #fitnessjourney of mine because I know that if I lose my own fight with body shame, that I will quickly spiral back into anxiety and depression. And so the internal battle with my own mind of seeing past the physical regression to focus on self love, grace, self forgiveness has been the hardest for me. There’s this part of me that feels ashamed calling myself a fitness blogger or a wellness influencer because some days the inner dialogue of a strong bad ass woman is weakened by memories of my former leaner self. And I’m saying this now knowing that I’m not alone. Many women (and men) battle with loving their bodies at every stage knowing that maybe life has given thrown them an unexpected detour to focus their energy in some other important area in their life like their career, business,  marriage, parenthood, and so forth. But sadly society doesn’t make it easy. Sometimes talking to friends doesn’t make it easy either. And its not that they don’t give the support and love needed its just that sometimes that voice of shame is harder to silence.

Today, I was nearly in tears at the end of my workout because part of me felt like shit. I’m tired, I’m exhausted (partially because I’m fighting a cold), but I think internally I was just over trying to keep this entire thing bottled in. It's such a weight to carry a burden of guilt, especially one that's self inflicted because you're the only one responsible for manifesting it and getting rid of it. I've talked about loving your body at every stage countless times because despite this feeling of shame I'm ridding myself of, it's still a process to grow and learn from. 

Before writing this post I plugged in the search term "I couldn't keep up with my fitness goals". Sadly, there were no articles or posts relevant to what I needed or had hoped for. Which made me realize that so many of us suffer in silence when we begin to feel a sliver of body shame. And that kind of broke my heart. Life happens, shit happens, dealing with other things in our life that don't relate to your workouts or how you eat sometimes happens and THAT'S OK! And if we know that this is OK and a part of life, why isn't it being talked about more? Why are we still silently masking some of the pain we feel? 

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So...maybe I am in this alone. Maybe I'm the only one who from time to time feels like shit that my progress pictures don't look everyone else's. But maybe just maybe we don't want to address it because its too challenging to. However the only way to reframe the conversation is to face it head on. 


I've written about strengthening your self love resilience in this post and I wanted to leave all you with some of my own self reflections, accomplishments, and conclusions to this all that has helped me feel like I'm still a bad ass. 


  1. From June 2015 - October 2015 you were still conditioning to step up stage at SF Championships when you decided to pull back on training as hard because you were taking on a new role at VCSO in 2016.
  2. November 2015 shoulder pain began and lifting weights was becoming painful. During this time fighting depression from a sports injury began. 
  3. Early 2016 - started BBG and helped to create one of the largest Bay Area Fitness company where you've created lifelong friendships with many.
  4. Early 2016 thru mid 2016 - marriage became rocky and Jonathan had brought to light some of the sacrifices he and our kids have made to give me space for my desire to compete and to focus on this community. 
  5. September 2016 - I hit rock bottom in my marriage and the truth came out that if we did not put the right effort into this relationship that we wouldn't be able to see it through. 
  6. October 2016 - left my role at VSCO. The biggest change in the last 5 years of life that I had to navigate through.
  7. November 2016 - went back to school and was jobless!! (this was scary as fuck as a parent, but I also knew that if I didn't chase my own dreams I could't teach my kids how to chase theirs)
  8. January 2017 - decided to take my blog full time and focus on that rather than look for a full time job at another tech company. (The biggest sacrifice for my family losing an income, but also the greatest challenge for me to overcome. It was sink or swim time!)
  9. April 2017 - marriage was still shit and I realized part of the major disconnect in life was me not being the present mom I say that I am.  Gotta walk the talk!
  10. May 2017 - Airis officially became a teenager and 13 comes with a whole new set of problems and parenting skills to sharpen. Not to mention the erratic cortisol levels from weekly stress.
  11. July 2017 - finished nutrition school and then started yoga teacher training the same week I graduated Institute for Integrative Nutrition
  12. September 2017 - Finished all my education for the year....for now. And home life is finally where I've always imagined it to be (with the exception of a few hiccups here and there).


I'm not stage lean, but that doesn't make me less of a person. Being leaner never made me a better person. Being leaner didn't mean that I was more determined then than I am now. I constantly have to remind myself that I didn't start exercising till about 4 years ago and that I still have so much to learn about my body and what its meant to do. I have a career that allows me to create more time at home with my kids, travel, and I get to share my passions of integrative health with the world! Determination gets us started on day 1, self love, grace, and empathy keeps us going on the journey. 

Thank you for listening to my heart. 

Joanne E

I’m a mother of two beautiful daughters and married to a man who completes me. I started my fitness journey as a way to heal my soul and launched my blog in hopes to continue to inspire and empower women to use fitness as a tool to heal depression and find their self worth. I strongly believe that each woman deserves to be in love with herself just as much as her man does. I have an obsession with reusable water bottles, I enjoy action movies, and I’m in love with burpees.