RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -- Getting fit and healthy is not always easy, but two Richmond women found a way to make it work for them. Now, they're using the reach of the internet to inspire others to do the same.DAWN ESTELLE ARCHER
Not everyone would post their most unflattering pictures for the world to see, but for Dawn Estelle Archer, they show how far she's come.
At her highest, Archer weighed 220 pounds and was unhappy.
"I looked at that picture and I didn't hate myself, but I loved myself enough to make a change," she said.
One look at her Instagram account (@estellearcher) and it's clear she's made big changes.
Today, she's the owner of SWEAT -- inspiring others to start their own fitness journeys through her in-studio workout classes, live streams and social media posts.
"If I'm going through something, I just share it," she said. "Because I know there's somebody that may see this and may need it in that moment."
Her honest approach has garnered her more than 213,000 Instagram followers from all across the globe.
"It's humbling to know that no matter where you are in the world, sometimes we always have the same struggles and we can all help each other."
Mental wellness, skin issues, complications from weight loss -- nothing is off limits.
Her most popular posts are those telling "before and after" shots.
"She's so transparent," said Krystle Dandridge, who's been taking SWEAT classes for two years. "I think that's the best thing about her. She's transparent, and so it makes us feel a bit more confident about ourselves."
Archer started her class in 2013, pounding the pavement in Manchester.
"I didn't have a lot of money. I had just quit my job and I just really wanted to help people," she said. "We didn't have to pay rent -- we were in the parking lot. And my class was $5. To this day, every single class that I teach in Richmond is $5."
Her popularity quickly grew. Less than a year later, she sold her car and bought a one-way ticket to California. Her goal? To visit all 50 states in one year to spread her message that fitness can be fun.
Her advice to others hoping to begin their own fitness journeys is simple.
"Start by starting. When I started, I didn't weigh myself. I didn't portion anything. I didn't count calories. I just started walking. Instead of driving, I started walking."
Archer also suggests printing your own "before" picture to keep with you as motivation.To learn more about Archer and SWEAT, click HERE.
Brittany Mullins created the blog Eating Bird Food eight years ago as a freshman at George Mason University.
Determined not to gain the "Freshman 15," she started getting into health and fitness and documented the journey. Not only did she refrain from gaining the extra pounds that year, she actually lost weight.
Today, she's also a personal trainer and health coach.
She still posts on her site -- everything from healthy recipes and workouts to motivation and little snippets of her personal life.
"I think that's what builds the connection because people see, okay she's being vulnerable and putting herself out there, and people like that," said Mullins. "When you're talking about things that aren't talked about a lot, people notice you're being real about it."
She gets hundreds of thousands of clicks on her site and her Instagram following (@eatingbirdfood) is reaching 40,000.
She says when people turn to the web for inspiration, the world is open to you.
"I think they're looking for support and a community of people who are going through the same thing or who have gone through the same things and come out on the other side."
To people wanting to begin their own fitness journeys using social media, Mullins says a good place to begin is by searching key terms like: yoga, crossfit, vegan or paleo on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google.
And if you do decide to document your progress on Instagram, consider creating a whole new account dedicated to health and fitness.
That way, you're not flooding your friends' feeds who aren't as interested.To learn more about Mullins, click HERE.To view her blog check out here site by clicking HERE.
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