Were all the sculpted, hot-bodied people on Instagram put on this earth solely to make us feel bad about ourselves? It can certainly feel like that, especially when you’re feeling insecure about your weight or fitness level. But there’s a way to control that pesky, self-critical voice in your head that keeps telling you you're inferior to everyone else.
This May, LIVESTRONG.COM’s Healthy Reads book club will be reading “Planking for Pizza: A Body Positive Guide to a Confident, Healthy, Happy You.” Pack’s funny and relatable memoir covers everything from building body confidence to working on your physical fitness and health. Join us on Goodreads.com to discuss your favorite moments from the book and to get the latest updates on author chats!
We caught up with Pack to learn more about her journey to Instagram stardom and how she keeps it real.
The Birth of an Awesome Instagram Name
LIVESTRONG.COM: Why did you decide to call your account, book and blog Planking for Pizza?
Jessica Pack: I thought the name was catchy! But also because I initially thought my Instagram account was going to be a space where I made fun of myself and how I wasn’t great at fitness. But as it has evolved, it has become so much more than that. I think it represents the balance I try to maintain between being active and healthy while still enjoying life and the foods I love!
LS: What were you hoping to accomplish when you originally started your Instagram account, @PlankingForPizza? Why did you decide to use social media to track your progress?
JP: It was purely to keep myself accountable and connect with other girls who were on similar journeys. I thought having a community would be easier than going at it alone. Connecting with other girls from all over the world and forming genuine friendships has been the greatest gift of all for putting myself out there.
Behind the Scenes of Being 'Insta-Famous'
LS: When did you first notice that you were gaining a bunch of followers, and what was that like?
JP: My account first gained traction when Kayla Itsines featured me on her Instagram page. I had been following her guide, the Bikini Body Guide, and connecting with other girls in the BBG community. It was both exciting and unexpected; I never thought I would actually stick with the program, see progress or be featured by her.
LS: What’s the goal of your Instagram account now, and how has that changed from when you were first getting started?
JP: I have found an immense passion for mental health and how that ties into body image and how we use food as a crutch for emotions. I want to get a master’s degree in mental health and provide more content that helps to remove the stigma surrounding it.
Inside 'Planking for Pizza' and Body Acceptance
LS: Tell us a little bit about what you cover in your book.
JP: My book is about my journey. Some of it is from my childhood, and a lot of it is from these past two years and the self-discovery, acceptance and love I have gained. I share a little bit about how I got to the negative self-doubting beliefs and how I started to overcome them. I have grown even more since the book was published, so it is fun to see how much I have changed even in the few months since it was completed.
LS: In your book you talk about how your struggle with weight gain affected your self-worth. Can you tell us about how body positivity shifted your mindset?
JP: There wasn’t a specific occurrence. Somewhere along my journey, I stopped feeling defined by my body. I realized that my potential and worth weren’t in what I looked like, but in who I was becoming. I wasn’t becoming a better body; I was becoming a kinder, stronger and more caring and compassionate person.
LS: In your book you talk about how you struggled with body acceptance. Can you share a story from when you were younger and how this started for you?
JP: I think it started just like it starts for most girls — probably somewhere around seventh or eighth grade. I had quit gymnastics in seventh grade (I mention in my book how my coaches made me feel “bigger” in comparison to the other girls on my team) and became far less active. I wasn’t so much concerned with my weight, but I definitely did not feel pretty in comparison to my peers. I felt bigger and always wanted to be smaller like the more popular girls.
LS: At what point did you realize it was a problem? How did you find help?
JP: I never really thought it was a problem, as I never discussed how I felt about myself with anyone — except maybe my little sister. I was in and out of therapy my whole life, but I never talked about how my issues pertained to body image and self-acceptance.
I finally reached out for help a year after I started my fitness journey. I had been making changes and feeling good about the progress I was making, but I still felt unworthy, unattractive and undeserving of a lot of things. This was just a little over a year ago. I still see my therapist today and am working on some internal struggles.
LS: For the people out there struggling with body image and/or eating disorders, how can they find body acceptance? Is it through therapy, frame of mind or simple daily exercises? What really works?
JP: I think that what “really works” is on a truly personal and individual basis. I think finding what works for you requires a deep exploration into your own soul. It’s something only you can figure out, whether it’s through mindful movement or talking with someone. No one can do that exploring for you.
For More, Join LIVESTRONG.COM’s Book Club
Join LS Healthy Reads for discussions, reading guides and giveaways. Every other month we’ll be choosing a new book about fitness, health and wellness to read. Get your own copy of “Planking for Pizza: A Body Positive Guide to a Confident, Healthy, Happy You” on Amazon now.