Most people use "before and after" photos to talk about fitness gains or share their weight loss successes. But fitness influencer Kelsey Wells just changed the game by using it to talk openly about her struggle with postpartum depression.
While her body clearly looks physically different in the two pics in her Instagram post on Wednesday, it's her difference in mental state that Kelsey highlights.
“There was nothing wrong with my body but everything wrong with how I viewed it and treated it,” she captioned the post, referencing the image on the left, which was taken four years ago.
Kelsey explains that the image on the left documents the day she went to see a doctor regarding her postpartum depression and anxiety. One of the remedies the doc suggested: regular exercise.
“So it was four years ago this very week that my fitness journey began, out of desperation. Desperation to help myself cope mentally and desperation to again recognise my body in the mirror. I did not have a healthy mindset then."
Kelsey says she tried exercising before, but never stuck with it. But when she finally made it a daily activity, her life changed forever—and for the better. “FAR before I saw any physical changes in the mirror, I started to FEEL them,” she writes.
“I slowly began to gain confidence and appreciation for my body and manage my anxiety in a holistic and healthy way. Simply, the more I cared for my body, the more I began to love myself and believe it was worth caring for.”
Even though Kelsey didn’t necessarily have an end-goal in mind, and she wasn’t sure where her efforts would lead, she never let up. “Four years of hard work, consistency, and finally believing in and being true to myself later, I am who I am and where I am today," she writes. "I am immensely grateful for my struggles and every part of my journey and YOU SHOULD BE TOO.”
Kelsey has alluded before to her struggles with body image and anxiety—and how working out has helped her get past that. "Living an active and healthy lifestyle is my key to freeing my mind from anxiety and replacing self doubt with self confidence," she captioned a July 2016 post.
While of course exercise isn't necessarily a replacement for mental health treatment, it can be a powerful weapon against depression. One study recently found that strength training can be as effective at combatting depression as taking anti-depressants and behavioural therapies.
"Only you can change your life," Kelsey concluded her post on Wednesday. "No one can do it for you, but NO ONE can stop you."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US