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Influencer Whitney Simmons defends body changes amid criticism: 'Gaining weight is not always a bad thing'

The YouTuber, 30, says she lost the love to workout for "a very long time" after the gym became a "traumatic place."

Whitney Simmons is defending her recent body transformation. (Image via Instagram/@whitneyysimmons)
Whitney Simmons is defending her recent body transformation. (Image via Instagram/@whitneyysimmons)

Whitney Simmons is opening up about the positive aspects of weight gain.

On Wednesday, the fitness influencer and YouTuber shared a vulnerable message on social media defending her recent body changes. In an image carousel, Simmons shared a side-by-side photo of herself taken a year apart. The 30-year-old included snaps and videos of herself in the gym, along with screenshots of mean comments regarding her body transformation.

In the shared screenshots, Simmons revealed an Instagram user commented: "She gained like 30 pounds in her stomach, vagina and hips, good lord."

"This is gonna sound mean, but in her more recent photos she looks slightly thicker. I'm wondering if she's pregnant," someone else remarked.

In her caption, Simmons addressed her weight gain and her previous mental health struggles.

"I lost a lot of weight over the several years I was struggling so deeply with suicidal ideation, severe anxiety and depression," she penned. "A lot of you know I have always trained simply because I love to. I lost that love for a very long time after the gym became a traumatic place for me. It took me almost a year to return again."

Simmons challenged the conventional fitness narrative, emphasizing that "gaining weight is not always a bad thing."

Despite facing negative criticism and assumptions about her body, Simmons has remained focused on her personal goals and the deeper reasons behind her fitness journey.

"I've worked hard to continue to push weight out of the desire to simply feel strong again, not to chase a certain body type," the vlogger explained.

"Please understand that I train to take care of my mental and physical health. ... It has been an extremely empowering year for me to put on weight, feel strong and challenge myself in and outside of the gym."

Fans met Simmons' post with words of encouragement and praise for her vulnerability.

Canadian body-positivity advocate and influencer Alicia Mccarvell commented: "You're a badass."

"Your eyes say it all," one Instagram user wrote. "The right looks happy, fulfilled, knowing, proud. I know it's weird to tell someone that you don't know that you're proud of them, but I am. This sh— is f—g hard, but you've got an entire community of people rooting for you, even on your worst days."

"Proud of you," another shared. "I have a similar story and am so grateful you share everything you do on your platform! My admiration grows for you daily, queen! Keep being amazing."

"You look strong and beautiful and happy to move your body! Thank you for the reminder it's about health and not the look! The gym can be so toxic! I applaud you!" someone weighed in.

"This! When I tell you the amount of trauma we as women put our bodies through just to look a certain way on the outside while our insides look the worst they've ever been. You don't know how much this post helped me in my journey to reassure fitness influencers aren't all about the 'aesthetic.' I'm a therapist and I still struggle so much with loving both my body and my mental health. It's never linear. Please keep sharing, you can help change the narrative!" a fan penned.

This isn't the first time Simmons has opened up about her mental health struggles. In October, she recounted her journey in an interview with Women's Health.

She revealed that back in August 2020, her life took a sharp turn during a gym session when she received the heart-wrenching news of a friend's death from cancer, causing the gym to become a space filled with grief. Simmons recalled not wanting to leave her bed, much less exercise, marking the start of a difficult period where the physical space of the gym became intertwined with her loss.

"I didn't even know who I was at that moment," she said.

In May 2021, Simmons faced an excess of negative comments. She was accused of faking her mental illnesses and championing toxic positivity online. After an especially "mean-spirited" slew of comments and messages, she recalled contemplating ending her life.

"At the very last second, I decided, 'Not yet,'" she shared. That same week, Simmons connected with a therapist and was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety.

"From seeing nothing beautiful in any day, to now — I am so grateful that I made it through that," she said. "It is a beautiful day to be alive."

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