As the force behind ‘A girl in progress’, Emma has long championed women’s empowerment. And in a case in which it would be permissible to judge a book by it’s cover, the website is home to just that, women who are figuring it all out. Having witnessed one too many jet-setting influencers attending fabulous beachside retreats on the repeat, Emma felt compelled to share the in-between, the highs, the lows and the hustle of women in their daily lives. If that meant flying around the world in first class, that would be ok as long as the other women following knew that life wasn’t always about the destination but often times about the journey. The end result is a website that celebrates being real, being raw and being vulnerable in all areas of life – health, wellness and fitness included.
We asked Emma to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to our Happy Way family about all things confidence and surviving the digital age. So boil the kettle, make a cuppa and sit back to learn a thing or two about self-motivation and the body confidence accounts you should be following now.
How did the idea behind ‘A girl in progress’ come about?
The idea behind A Girl In Progress came about when I was working in the media industry and was going to a lot of fancy events. I was meeting a lot of influencers and bloggers who were six-foot-tall with perfectly tanned skin, contoured makeup, a designer handbag and not a hair out of my place. And hey, that’s awesome for them! But as someone who worships at the altar of carbs, almost always has a bird nest-sized knot in her hair and falls over/drops food/says something awkward at least once a day, I couldn’t relate. So, I decided to start my own blog — one that celebrates being raw, real and perfectly imperfect. It’s an online destination for women working on themselves FOR themselves. We believe it’s possible to strive to become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously accepting yourself exactly as you are.
What do you believe are some of the biggest obstacles to self-confidence in a digital age?
Definitely the comparison trap! It’s easy to look at other people’s Instagram feeds and feel like you’re not enough — whether that’s pretty enough, stylish enough, thin enough, rich enough or like your life is boring compared to theirs. This can leave you feeling like you don’t measure up, which is never a nice feeling. The same can go for your career, which I find I notice most when I’m on women’s business Facebook groups. You see a constant stream of people’s career accomplishments and can feel like you’re falling behind and aren’t where you should be in life.
What can women do to overcome this?
I think it’s important to remember that you're looking at the highlights reel of someone’s life. Sure, they’re showing you the luxurious beach holiday, but they’re not necessarily showing you the hours of unglamorous work they had to do to save for it. They may have also taken 1000 photos to get that one flattering bikini photo, and then used FaceTune or another app to make themselves look even slimmer or more ‘perfect.’
It’s not reality, so comparing yourself to that is pointless and can be really harmful to your self-confidence. I try to keep in mind that you never really know what’s going on in these influencers’ lives behind the scenes — they might actually be really unhappy or desperately wish they had something you did. Then, there’s my favourite quote: ‘Flowers are beautiful but so are Christmas lights, and they look nothing alike.’ Just because someone else is beautiful, doesn’t make you any less so and you can admire their beauty without questioning your own. In terms of the career stuff, I try to remember to trust the timing of my own life and that I’m exactly where I need to be right now!
What are your three top tips to forming a healthy relationship with social media?
Set boundaries around how and when you consume social media. It’s easy for it to consume your life when you’re just picking up your phone and aimlessly scrolling all the time. This could mean waiting until you’ve been awake for an hour before you reach for your phone (or not using it before bed), setting time limits for apps (both iPhones and Androids allow you to do this) or even deleting the apps off your phone so you can only use them on your computer. You may also choose to take digital detoxes — whether that’s on a Sunday afternoon or an entire weekend.
Unfollow people who make you feel like crap! Even if they haven’t personally done anything to you, there’s nothing wrong with cleansing your feed of accounts that make you feel anything less than the amazing human that you are!
And replace them with people that inspire you. While Instagram has its downsides, there are also some people doing amazing things on there. Whether its artists, celebrities, humanitarians, girl bosses, brands or body positive influencers, fill your feed with accounts that genuinely inspire, excite and empower you.
What is your approach to fitness?
Fitness is something that is really important to me, but it’s no longer something I do because I’m trying to look a certain way. I try to exercise 3-4 times per week and I do so mainly for the mental benefits (ie. stress relief and as a mood booster) and because I like feeling physically fit, strong and confident.
Over the last 5 years or so, I have done a lot of heavy strength lifting, but because my schedule is so varied at the moment I currently use Classpass. I try to get to a couple of Pilates classes (KX pilates in Randwick) and Barry’s Boot camp (a blend of cardio and circuit training) sessions during the week and I find that gives me a great mix. I’ve also been going to a dance class called dancehall at Dance Central on and off for the last few years, and I’m trying to get back into it!
What are the simple steps women can take to get more motivated in their fitness?
I think the most important thing is to find your ‘why’ behind what you’re doing. I used to always be chasing visible abs (which never happened!) and I would get frustrated and fall off the bandwagon. But now I do it for the reasons I mentioned above. If I don’t exercise for a week or so, I find it really affects my mood so for me, that’s strong enough motivation to keep me going consistently.
I also believe fitness should be fun and I get bored of doing the same thing over and over again, so I love to switch it up often. For me, that definitely keeps me motivated, as the classes tend to fly by. Often, turning up is the hardest part. So, making it as easy as possible for yourself by having your workout clothes out and ready to go, especially if you exercise in the morning. That helps a lot!
If all else fails, having a training buddy, a killer workout playlist, cute active wear and a delicious post-workout snack like Happy Way to look forward to always help!
Who are 3 Instagram body-confident influencers all women should follow?
Jessica Vander Leahy is a model, writer and the founder of the Project Mankind. She’s also an absolute goddess and just glows from the inside out with self-love and confidence. She will add a whole lot of confidence to your feed.
Love Chloe Jean. I love Chloe Jane’s account, because she has such an inspiring outlook on life AND has a similar body type to myself. Plus, body positivity, good vibes and beautiful travel shots — what more could you want!?
Iskra was probably the first body-confident influencer I ever followed! I love that she shows that you can be fit, strong and sexy without being extremely lean and thin. Plus, like the other ladies on this list, she just radiates happiness.
What is the one self-love rule you abide by every day?
Giving myself permission to make mistakes and not trying to be ‘perfect’ all the time. I’m quite a perfectionist and am very hard on myself, so this is something I’m still working on. But I try to keep this quote in mind when I start to overthink things ‘if it won’t matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes worrying about it’. I find that helps a lot!
Parting words. What is your life motto?
“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.” — Sophia Bush