I recently had the chance to join Stevana Avara of @defining.fitness on a video call, and interview her about body positivity, the reality of social media and more.
First off, because her platform focuses a lot on finding confidence, I wanted to ask Avara about her favorite ways to boost her own confidence when she feels insecure. She first talked about how she used to approach moments when she felt insecure and discussed how she would search for “motivational content” online, which led to feelings of comparison. She had to take a step back from social media and now she works to allow her own goals to motivate her.
Because her platform and account have also had a large impact on my own confidence and health, I wanted to learn more about Stefana’s biggest inspiration in creating her account. Avara started by saying that when she began her fitness journey she did not intend for her platform to blow up in the way it has and for it to become a greater part of her life. But, she said that she realized she could find an angle in fitness that no one had taken yet, by posting what she wished she could have seen when she began her fitness journey. She aimed to create a space where people would realize that “you can work out every single day and it’s okay if you still have cellulite and stretch marks and everything like that.” When girls visit her page, Avara wants them to come back because they feel safe and seen.
For so many people, balancing food and fitness can be an uphill battle, so I asked Avara, “What experiences have you had in learning to have balance when it comes to food and fitness?” She said that when she was in college she used to keep track of her alcohol on nights out and the number of shots that she took would equal the number of miles that she would run that Sunday. She acknowledged that she used to have a toxic relationship between working out and going out and she had to learn that the two could coexist. Even more importantly, Avara said that imperfect days, in general, are not going to cancel out your hard work, and I also think that this can apply to so many different aspects of your life even beyond fitness.
Because so many of Her Campus’ readers are currently in college, I also wanted to get Stefana’s insight on how to balance the life of being a student with things that help one’s mental or physical wellbeing. She said, “My number one tip would be surround yourself with people who are going to move you towards your goals instead of away from them.” Avara also emphasized that your friends shouldn’t make you question your self-worth and your value as a person, and she said that you should “surround yourself with people who aren’t going to be putting you in positions that make you stray from your character.”
With relationships or friendships, Avara said that you should not be afraid to leave if you are not happy… you will find your people. As you get older, it is also not as much about having that group to go out with, as it is about figuring out who is going to be there for you. It’s also “okay to be a floater and you will find your people eventually.”
I don’t know about you but my screen time on social media is kind of embarrassing, and I really wanted to ask for Stefana’s opinion on how to be more aware of what accounts we are following, and how they might impact our body image and mental health. Avara said that she had realized that she had been following accounts that were negatively impacting her body image and she said that “every day I didn’t look like them, I kept questioning, like what do I have to do to get there, how many fewer calories do I have to eat?” She highlighted the importance of being careful of who you are following and choosing to support because everything online can be edited or curated for an audience.
So many people experience a transition period during college or in their twenties where they have to find a new exercise routine. In my case, I danced for most of my life, and when I came to college I wanted to find something new that I enjoyed and that made me feel stronger. So I asked Stefana, “What advice do you have for people who might be going through this transition, or who might just be newcomers to the gym in general?” She said that she went from playing three team sports to not having that in college, and not having a coach to build the same structure.
She suggested so many tips that I hope to use myself too, including: finding a partner to go to the gym with, trying a group fitness class, using live workouts (could even be from YouTube!) to force you to stay present, and limiting yourself to only changing your music so that you don’t get sucked into your phone.
I also wanted to hear more from Avara on the changes she hopes to see in the fitness industry in the coming years, and while she said that we are slowly making progress toward accepting that fitness is not just about weight loss, she also wants everyone to be able to work out for themselves… whatever the reasons are.
One question that I was extremely eager to ask Avara about was regarding the plans she has for her platform and brand. She said that she plans to continue making clothes that fit every body and every size. She also announced a second goal, saying that she plans to move and work on a speaking tour. She hopes to structure it with a 20-30 minute workout, with a question and answer session at colleges!
The last two topics that I wanted to discuss with Avara were regarding how society can collectively push for more acceptance of the body positivity movement at a large-scale and personal level. On a large scale, Avara said that brands can continue to include all different shapes, sizes, and backgrounds in their ad campaigns, and go beyond just checking boxes.
On a personal level, she said that we should continue to support all people around us and work to be equally supportive both on and off of social media. She said that one should realize when it’s time to unfollow people that may be bad for our mental health and to remain as authentic as possible. She also said when talking about editing pictures, “When you have a daughter or a son, or a niece one day, and you go back to show them pictures of you one day… and every photo is facetuned? Think about the impact that is going to have on your potential future daughter.” She finished by asking, why would you spend this one life editing or hating your body?
It was an honor to interview Stefana Avara, and I hope that by hearing more about her answers, you can see the impact her content is having on the fitness community and on the confidence of so many people in general. I am so grateful that I found her page about a year ago, and if you are interested, you can check out her Instagram as well!