This viral transformation photo is changing the way we look at health and happiness
You know something, fam? Sometimes happiness is a plate of nachos and a cold beer, a milkshake, a slice of pizza or some ranch dressing on the side. They’re not the healthiest choices, but is that really what’s important in life?
Jolene Nicole Jones, a former bodybuilder from Montana, knows this all too well. Jones posted her #transformation pics on Facebook, but they’re not the kind you’re probably used to seeing. In her photos, Jones goes from being a rail thin, lean-muscled machine at the height of her bodybuilding days to, well, happy, as she puts it.
“Body builder to body lover,” she wrote alongside the pair of photos.
“This isn’t your typical transformation photo,” she added. “I went from being controlled by my grueling gym regimen and weighing chicken and having protein shakes in my purse to fully enjoying a social life. Some people might say this is “letting yourself go” but you can’t put a price tag on happiness. I call this finding myself and realizing I can have more than one passion in life, whether it’s hiking up in Glacier Park or enjoying beers with friends.”
She continues with this very important point: “A six pack didn’t make me happy. I was never enough and always needing to improve. Today I went rafting with friends and enjoyed food the old me would have drooled over and wouldn’t have dared to touch. Your body is quite LITERALLY the only thing that gets you through this life, your worth and joy isn’t weighed by what you can lift or what the scale says. My worth is weighed by those I surround myself with and the smile on my face.”
Here’s something we could all stand to be reminded of: Health isn’t measured by six-packs and single-digit body fat. Health isn’t even entirely physical. Of course, being active and eating well are important tenets in overall health. But mental and emotional and social health matter, too. And enjoying the finer things in life, in moderation, is not a bad thing. I’ll repeat that for emphasis: An occasional indulgence in something “unhealthy” is not a bad thing.
Jones’ story so resonates with me because I did the same thing. In college, I was a competitive rock climber. I ate more grilled chicken and broccoli than any person should have to endure in a lifetime. I obsessed over calories and macros and fat-lean ratio. And I was miserable.
In the eight years since then, countless happy hours with friends, late-night pizza stops and deep-fried apps have added up to around 40 pounds and a whole lot of happiness that wasn’t there before. My body looks different, but it still carries me through life and travel and adventures, and I still love it. And here’s the kicker: Every time I go to my annual checkup, my doctor tells me I’m as perfectly healthy as I was 40 pounds lighter.
In a world that makes women feel like skinny is the only way to be, we need more examples like Jones. Happy looks good on her. It looks good on all of us. Let’s focus on that more than on our bodies.