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The negative aspects of social media have been making the headlines recently.
It’s not without good reason: we know that being exposed to a highlight reel of ultra-fit bodies and seemingly endless holidays can leave even the most confident among us feeling like we’re not measuring up.
However, peel back the curtain and you’ll also see pockets of positivity—of women empowering each other and inspiring one another to reach their goals.
Emma is a Canberra woman who’s cultivated such a community. With an Instagram account that’s garnered nearly 70,000 followers, @em_wizzfit has become a safe space for women to come and discuss issues like body image, nutrition, and fitness.
Emma started her account in 2015 to track her progress on Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide.
“As part of that program, she [Kayla] encourages women to keep track of their progress on Instagram and connect as part of a community. So that’s how I started, I really just wanted a separate space to engage with women doing a similar thing to me.”
Emma began communicating with women who were experiencing similar journeys to her own and soon began to make genuine connections.
“I started meeting people very early on, I went down to Melbourne in 2015 and met up with a girl that I’d known through my account. I started my account really because of the community aspect, so meeting people and making a real-life connection is important to me, because I like actual, proper human interaction.”
After meeting people in both Melbourne and Sydney, Emma decided to take a trip to South Africa and during her trip met up with an Instagram friend. Since that time, she’s travelled to America and Europe and met people from her online community.
A major focus of Emma’s account is mental health and disordered eating, in particular binge eating and bulimia.
“I don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, but I feel it’s been easier to open up to strangers [on Instagram] than it has been with my family and friends. I do think that you need to be able to express if you’re having struggles to your family and friends and those that love you, and seek appropriate help as required. But if anything, I’ve found it to be a bit of an outlet for sharing these experiences but also a safe space around a lot of people who support you and have been through the same thing.”
Unlike a lot of fitness influencers, Emma’s full-time job isn’t directly related to nutrition of fitness. In fact, by day she works as a public servant.
“Although all my friends know about my social media account and they’re fine with it, I purposely keep that away from my colleagues and my work environment. I’m a person outside of social media, I have work relationships, I have career goals, I have a normal life—this is just a part of that life.”
The fact that Emma fits in her healthy lifestyle around working full time makes her content that much more relatable for the average woman.
“A big reason why I keep doing this is because so many people nowadays, on social media, in magazines and what not, we look up to people whose job it is to look fit. Maybe they’re a personal trainer, a model, or some kind of athlete, there’s so many examples. I feel like it’s unrealistic for the everyday person.”
“I want to show that I’m a normal 9-5 girl with my own friends and ambitions and career, but I still manage to fit in eating healthily—but also treating yourself—and working out regularly. Maybe that can encourage someone to do it, instead of aspiring to be or looking up to someone who’s unrealistic.”
Emma says that having a strong presence on social media has influenced her lifestyle since she started her account.
“It’s impacted the choices that I make in terms of my nutrition, my gym routine, and things like that. It’s mostly for the better though, because if I think back to before I made my account, I was having struggles with an eating disorder, and I wasn’t exercising in a sustainable way.”
A glance at Emma’s account now reveals that she’s living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. With a penchant for ice cream and chocolate, and a love of powerlifting, you get the impression that she’s truly found her groove.
“I think there are a lot of incorrect stereotypes around women and lifting weights, and as an extension of that, powerlifting. I personally spent a lot of time earlier on doing a lot of cardio and circuits, often with the primary goal of burning calories. So for me, it was nice to have a goal that was not related to my body composition or how many calories I’m burning. It’s purely about strength, it’s about getting stronger, testing your physical toughness as well as your mental toughness.”
To follow Emma’s journey, check out her Instagram account.