Haley Smith’s Instagram transformation has been making waves online this week, and she talked with SELF about just how powerful her mental and physical journey has been. A little over a year ago, Smith, 24, realized she wasn’t completely happy with herself, and that she wanted to feel more confident and comfortable on her wedding day. So she decided to make some changes—and for her, that included losing weight. Smith ended up losing around 110 pounds between her engagement about a year and a half ago and her wedding, which took place last week. Now Smith shares exactly how she made it happen.
After getting engaged, Smith took a look at the proposal photos and realized she didn’t feel her best, but she wanted to on the day she got married. What’s more, she knew that wouldn’t happen unless she committed to healthy living. It was the first domino in the chain. “I didn’t want to settle on a wedding dress or be less than satisfied with myself on my wedding day at all,” she tells SELF.
Of course, Smith would have looked stunning on her wedding day either way. But her desire to make changes in her life went beyond her looks—she wanted to feel happy and healthy.
Smith realized that, at least at first, that elusive get-fit magic lies in making tiny changes to your life.
“The most important thing I learned is that you need to start small,” she says. It’s easy to set your eye on an event like your wedding or a vacation, then go all-in, overhauling your entire lifestyle in a way that seems productive but is actually completely unsustainable. Instead, Smith started small, then built on her progress. “I had tried so many diets and fitness programs that I was really into for about two weeks, but then I would always fall off,” she says. “This time, I decided to pick two small habits that I could start with, and after two weeks of getting that down, I’d pick two more.” Here, Smith’s transformation photo, which shows how small changes can lead to major results.
Smith started with cutting out late-night snacking and making most of her meals at home, only eating out twice a week. After she had those down, she started a food log on MyFitnessPal and also started tracking her water intake. Implementing small tweaks to her eating routine made achieving her goals much more realistic, she explains.
Then, she did the same with exercise. “I started by running three times a week in 30 second intervals for about a half-hour, and eventually I would include small push-up or crunch challenges. I just had to slowly build up with that, too.”
She also harnessed the power of Instagram by using it as a way to stay on track.
Smith’s feed is peppered with mid-workout selfies, delicious-looking, healthy meals, and shots of her adorable exercise gear. Using Instagram as a fitness tool helps keep her accountable to her followers, but it also makes her more conscious of how she’s living on a day-to-day basis, she explains.
Plus, the uplifting feedback doesn’t hurt. “When I switched my Instagram account to strictly being about fitness, I was really encouraged by people who had only known me through my posts,” she says. “I was surprised by how supportive and helpful total strangers could be. Many of them genuinely wanted to see me reach my goals,” A peek at the comments on her photos proves that to be true, thanks to the outpouring of statements saying things like, “You are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to many others!” and “Much respect, awesome job.”
The supportive community on Instagram has also helped Smith stay motivated.
“[Motivation is] the hardest part, by far,” Smith says. “I go through so many cycles of being bored with a routine or discouraged because I had an off day.” The Instagram support she gets—and the clear record of her progress—help her push through.
Beyond just drawing motivation from the social media platform, Smith uses Instagram as a way to pay it forward. She’s gotten in on the #MotivationMonday action, uploading photos of her scale decorated with inspirational phrases or showcasing a list of rewards she’ll indulge in for each fitness goal she hits. One of the most inspiring photos lately? The ones Smith uploaded of herself on her wedding day last week, beaming with happiness. That wedding-day smile says it all.
Reporting by Alexa Tucker.
SELF – Fitness