The Advice Column by Dear Diary is thrilled to share @maddiecostfitlife's story of self-love, balance, and body positivity with our community. She is anything but a typical health and wellness blogger and has made a lasting impact on many- and she's just getting started.
*Trigger warning: eating disorders and body dysmorphia discussed.
I have never been a fan of following health and fitness accounts on Instagram. As someone who has struggled with body dysmorphia for as long as I can remember, I find that health/fitness influencers typically make me feel sh*tty about myself. That is why when I first started following @maddiecostfitlife on Instagram, I felt like I had entered another dimension. I thought to myself, "Here is a blogger who is showing me how to be healthy while simultaneously loving myself? And enjoying being a 20 something? Unheard of!"
We have been trained to think that to be "healthy," you can't also enjoy your life and be happy. That is where Maddie Costantino is turning the entire health and wellness industry upside down. She is who I wish I had to follow on social media when I was younger, and I know this is just the beginning of a long career of inspiration and positivity for this recent college grad.
DD: Introduce yourself to our Dear Diary readers.
MC: “Hi!! My name is Maddie Costantino, and I am a 22-year-old health and wellness blogger from Long Island, New York. Aside from sharing fitness to fashion on my Instagram @maddiecostfitlife, I love living a holistic lifestyle. I adore pilates and avocado toast, but I also love a nice Moscow Mule and a drunk slice of pizza.”
DD: What initially inspired you to start your Instagram account @maddiecostfitlife?
MC: “I first started working out my freshman year of college. I always played sports in high school; therefore, I never really struggled with my weight or body image and felt there was no need to work out. I remember for months being so lost in the gym, confused about what to do, and became more insecure in the body I was living in. After about a year and a half of doing my own research and having some personal training sessions, I was a sophomore in college that wanted to find some way to help others not go through what I went through…this is when @maddiecostfitlife was created.”
“Something that started as such a small gesture to help others not feel lost in the gym turned into a platform and welcoming community for others to feel comfortable in their skin and confident in their bodies. @maddiecostfitlife transformed tremendously over this period. Fast forward four years, I now share my struggles with food and body image that kept me down for a while when I first started my journey to self-love. After seeing all the toxic diet culture influencers out there, I am thankful I never developed an eating disorder. However, I had my fair share of labeling foods as 'good' or 'bad' and body image insecurities. When you follow all of these 'perfectly pictured people,' you want to become something you’re not. That is when I began to share more about body positivity and loving the skin you are in.”
DD: I am an open book (Madi speaking), and as I have told you before, I don't usually follow fitness accounts, but your account is so different. How do you stay authentic to yourself on social media while still giving fantastic advice?
MC: “That is one of the most common comments and compliments I get on my page! The number one reason I believe (as do people also say) that they follow me is that I am relatable and realistic. I stay true to myself and try to be as open and honest as possible. I remember always comparing myself to other girls and influencers on social media, wishing and wanting to be just like them. When in reality, it's all fake or just not as accurate as it may seem. You need to do you! I will not sit here and say that I drink green juice and avocado toast every day. Yes, I do a lot! But I also share the days that I am curled up in bed hungover and ordering bacon, egg, and cheese from the deli. I share the days I don't have the discipline or motivation to get my booty off the couch and to the gym. I share the days I am sad for no reason. And you know why? Because I AM HUMAN! I am not some energized and motivated fitness girl 24/7. No one is.”
“I am always honest because that's what people care about. If anything, fabricating and sharing this perfect life of yours makes others feel worse about themselves. It doesn't bring them up; it puts them down. I put myself in these young girls' shoes and realize how much it messed with my mental health, so why would I go and do the same? People need others to confide in, come to, and relate to, not someone they wish they could become or look like. But staying true to yourself isn't always easy. I sometimes feel 'guilty' that if I don't get in a workout or share enough content, I'm letting my followers down. That is when I take a step back and realize it's okay. We all fall into the trap of social media pressure, and living up to something we are not at times.”
DD: What are your favorite fitness accounts to follow, and why?
MC: “There are genuinely so many I could go on for hours, but I’ll share my top favorites. When it comes to workouts, @meganroup is my go-to girl for fitness. I joined The Sculpt Society for almost two years and have been doing dance cardio/sculpt sessions ever since. If you are not super into weight training or enjoy pilates/barre style workouts, TSS is perfect for this! Another is @aubrewinters Sweat Sessions. She is one big ball of energy and the most authentic human on social media that I know. Whether its a kick a** workout or TMI on #crotchsweat, she is a one-of-a-kind person and open book. Lastly, @meghanmcferran! I love CitySweat style workouts and adore seeing her fun fitness combos. She is a ray of sunshine and has the most contagious energy out there.”
DD: I love everything you stand for, especially your definitions of the "self-love club" and "hot girl summer." Can you tell our readers more about what both of those topics mean to you?
MC: “Self-love is something that I struggled with for a while when I began my wellness journey freshman year, and I didn’t even know it. You don’t realize how mean you can be to yourself sometimes. After researching and trying to learn as much as I can on fitness and nutrition, I began comparing myself so much to others. What’s the right or wrong workout to do, what foods should or shouldn’t I eat, and what I shouldn’t wear. These labels and looks get to you as a young female constantly scrolling through social media.”
“After going through a tough breakup during quarantine, it gave me a lot of time to sit with myself, thoughts, and feelings. It allowed me to redefine what self-love truly means to me. This time opened my eyes to a lot of things and enabled not only self-acceptance but self-growth. Although I may have thought that I was always in love with myself, I didn’t love parts of me, just like any normal girl. That is when the “self-love club” was born….”
[self - luhv] • noun
Being in love with every part of yourself - body and personality. Knowing that you are number one.
“The person you will always be with the most in life is yourself. Even when you are with others, you are with yourself too! When you wake up in the morning, you are with yourself. When you lay in bed at night, you are with yourself. When you are walking down the street, you are with yourself. What kind of person do you want to walk down the street with? What kind of person do you want to wake up in the morning with? What kind of person do you want to see at the end of the day before you fall asleep? Because that person is yourself, it’s your responsibility to be that person you want to be with. I know I want to spend my life with a person who knows how to let things go, who’s not full of hate, and who’s able to smile and be carefree. So that’s who I have to be-- @hannaschonberg wrote this, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
“'Hot Girl Summer' is another term that I recently redefined on my page. I am so sick and tired of hearing the stigma of this term and needed to share it with my followers. No, duh, everyone wants to look and feel good in their skin, especially in the summer. But that doesn’t mean crash diets, cutting out carbs, and over-exercising. How about happy girl summer? Because the truth is when you’re happy, you’re hot. When you feel good about yourself, you glow from the inside out. Happy girls are the prettiest girls. Hot girl summer should be about food, friends, fun, and making memories. It shouldn’t be about squeezing down a jean size or looking tiny in a bikini. I’m all for wanting to better yourself in whatever way you desire, but do it from a place of love.”
DD: What is a piece of advice you would share with anyone who is struggling with finding the proper exercise and diet for themselves?
MC: “DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!!! I know that sounds so cliché, but people don’t listen to it enough. You are never going to stick with a workout if you hate it. Of course, if you do something you don’t like, you’re going to struggle with it. If you hate lifting weights, then don’t lift weights. Try pilates or yoga. If you hate running, try rollerblading, the stair master, ice skating…there are so many ways you can get movement in. Find something you like, and it won’t be so much of a struggle anymore to stick with it. The same goes for food. Instead of cutting things out, add items in. Add vegetables to your meals and water into your day. Add in food for fuel, add on weight for strength, and add in cardio for the happy heart. Life should be about living, not limiting. The key is to start small! If you try and change so many things at once, you will feel like a failure. You can’t change all your lifestyle habits in one day. Otherwise, you’ll be more likely to give up, so start small!”
DD: What are some personal and professional goals that you have for yourself in the next five years?
MC: “Over the next few years, I would love to grow this community and inspire even more people. It’s such a rewarding feeling receiving messages from strangers that I’ve motivated them to get out of bed, challenge their fear foods, start working out, or begin to love the skin that they’re in. Professionally, I would like to pursue a career in marketing and move into Manhattan. I hope to excel financially and maybe someday be able to run @maddiecostfitlife full time!”
DD: Now for our final question of each interview, what now?
MC: “I have many brand collaborations and exciting campaigns coming up! I will continue to share my authentic self. I can’t wait to see where this summer and community take me from fitness to food, fashion, and fun.”