Instagrammer Cass Hines has an important message to share: Fitness really isn't about your weight, nor can it be measured by how you look. The 33-year-old mom from Victoria, Australia regularly posts side-by-side photos of herself at various weights and various levels of fitness — saying that what matters most to her is her performance and how she feels in her body, not numbers on the scale or measuring tape.
Hines, who started her fitness journey in earnest just two years ago, is a fan of Kayla Itsines' programs and follows a healthy meal plan, posting about her food choices. She's talked about how the #fitspo community on Instagram often focuses on weight or aesthetics, when in fact fitness is much harder to actually measure.
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"It's great to have aesthetic goals, but sometimes we place a greater emphasis on them than need be," she wrote in one caption. "I know it's not all about the abs, but when they go into hiding or are far less defined than you once remember them to be, it's very easy to think the worst... failure, unfit, fat, fitness fraud etc are all thoughts that have gone through my head more times than I'd like to admit! It's these moments when I have to shift the focus to those performance based goals instead."
For example, Hines is working on her upper-body strength, so she measures her progress by seeing how many pull-ups she can do rather than just how her arms look in the mirror.
One final message she shares that's incredibly important: Progress isn't always linear. Hitting bumps in the road or plateaus doesn't mean you've failed.
"The biggest thing I can take from this journey, is that progression, regression and plateaus… it’s called LIFE," she wrote. "The sooner you realise that expecting to see progress week after week is unrealistic and not sustainable, the happier you will be. Sure, there will be ups and downs like anything else, but the best part is, there’s no finish line because being fit and healthy is a lifestyle, not a quick fix. Live in the now and enjoy the ride... bumps, roadblocks and all."
This article originally appeared on Women's Health