A simple change in mindset helped Aylish Rutherford totally transform her body, and now she's feeling more confident than ever. The UK-based student uses her Instagram as a platform to share workout tips and talk about common issues like bloating, but one of her most recent posts dove a tad deeper and focused on how her attitude about fitness and nutrition has drastically changed through the years. And her words of wisdom just might inspire you to change your outlook, too.
Aylish shared a side-by-side picture that appears to be just like any other before-and-after collage you see all over Instagram — in the photo on the right, she looks thinner than she does on the left. But in reality, she's actually about six pounds heavier in the more recent picture! Totally revamping her diet and exercise routines is what made the difference.
At age 17, Aylish weighed about 113 pounds (8 stone) and admitted to hitting the gym with the goal of being "skinny." Back then, she mostly did cardio exercises (which usually entailed "aimlessly doing 20 minutes on the treadmill") and restricted her diet to include about 1,200 calories per day.
"I tried for months to get slim through cardio and eating very little food, as this is what I saw in magazines as how you achieve results," she told POPSUGAR. "I ended up bingeing on food at night because I was so hungry and made no progress." She admitted to disliking exercise back then, as she solely saw it as a means of burning calories. "At the start of my fitness journey I thought exercise was a punishment and I had to do cardio to burn off food. I had a really negative relationship with exercising and really did hate it."
"At the start of my fitness journey I thought exercise was a punishment and I had to do cardio to burn off food."
After becoming fed up with her late-night bingeing, Aylish knew something had to change. So she rolled up her sleeves to examine her options. "I did lots of research and educated myself on how to build muscle and lose fat," she said. "Through that journey I realised I loved building muscle and getting stronger."
Now 21 years old and about 119 pounds, Aylish no longer thinks having a high-protein diet and lifting weights makes you "bulky." She eats about 2,000 calories per day, with meals that are full of carbs, protein, and fat — plus, she has between six and eight portions of fruits and veggies each day. "I eat food to fuel myself now and understand that food is necessary to make progress," she told us. "My relationship has completely flipped the opposite way to what it was."
Instead of exercising with the goal of being thin, she does so to build muscle — and she's got the booty gains to prove it! Whereas she used to focus on cardio, Aylish is now all about the glutes and even spilled her top three exercises: hip thrusts, lunges, and squats. "Hip thrusts are so important I believe as they almost fully isolate the glutes so you are lifting the weight with solely your bum and this is what makes it grow," she explained.
#transformationtuesday ⠀ on the left 👈🏽 i was striving to have a physique that wasn't attainable for my body type (i wanted to look like a long lean catwalk model even tho i'm 5'2" 🙃) i restricted myself, excessively exercised and tried to be as slim as possible despite hating my appearance and being weak☹️ ⠀ on the right 👉🏽 i have EMBRACED my natural figure (short, stumpy & pear shaped🍐) eating lots of food and weight training (getting stronger focusing on heavy glute exercises - deadlifts, squats, hip thrusts, etc) has helped me achieve my ideal physique 💪🏽 ⠀ i no longer look at photos of girls and think "wow i want her body 😩" instead i think "wow 😍 she must work so hard to attain that physique, i'm inspired🌸" and i think that's important, to make progress within yourself you have to stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own AMAZING unique body 🍑💓
We asked Aylish what lessons she's learned since whipping her body into shape, and it's definitely something everyone needs to read. "The most important thing I've learned is that you should enjoy your journey and do it out of self-love," she said. "I also find following like-minded girls with a passion for fitness on Instagram keeps me motivated!" We'll second that!