Going on Instagram is overwhelming enough as it is. Seeing fitness influencers (think: Kayla Itsines, Emily Skye, Cassey Ho and so on) flash their taut abs, sweat-free face, and matching athleisure set at the gym? Well, don’t get me started.
Although many of us turn to these people for advice and inspiration during our health and fitness journeys, sometimes they can seem — I hate to say it — unrelatable. This is exactly why some influencers — wellness entrepreneur and founder of HBFit Hannah Bronfman, for example — are going beyond their personal Instagram captions to share their stories the old-school way: in print.
If there’s one thing that sets Bronfman apart from others, it’s her blunt yet personal approach to wellness. In Do What Feels Good: Recipes, Remedies, and Routines to Treat Your Body Right, she relies on personal experiences, ranging from growing up as a woman of color to watching a loved one struggle with an eating disorder, to outline her philosophy on having — and maintaining — a healthy lifestyle. This isn’t one of those “eat this, not that” books; instead, it requires you to look within at your own wants, needs, intentions and feelings to create your own personal roadmap — with some guidance from Bronfman herself.
Her mission for the book, which was released on January 8, was simple: to be a “resource for self-care.” In the introduction, she even says that it’s not a book telling others how to be like her, but rather a resource to help readers live in their healthiest way possible. To help readers dig deeper, she divided the book into three main sections: body, food and life. Each section tackles the subject from different angles: The chapters in the “body” section, for example, cover self-love, skincare tips, the importance of gut health and tonics that help set the mood (your mood, that is).
And while the recipes in the “food” section initially caught my eye (the chocolate-almond butter cups are to die for!), it was her self-love chapter at the beginning of the book that made me love Bronfman even more. Aside from being a DJ and founder of HBFit, an online community where women talk about health and self-care, she’s a total badass that knows her worth — and for Bronfman, it has nothing to do with her 500k Instagram followers.
In the first chapter called “Everybody Has an Opinion,” the 31-year-old gets real about what it’s like to be criticized for who you are, for who you were made to be. While encouraging readers to rid themselves of the pressure to look or dress a certain way, she wrote my favorite three sentences in the entire book: “Beauty is political. The thigh gap and the wage gap are related. Why so much encouragement from the media to worry about my body instead of my salary?” So. Much. Yes.
In these raw moments, also including the time when Bronfman got her period at performing arts summer camp or when she confessed her anxious nail biting habit, it felt like she stripped away the picture-perfect facade that I see online and gave me a better understanding as to why she is the success that she is.
Sure, she knows way more about organic vegetables and homemade tonics than the average person. Okay, she also knows how to make delicious cocktails with good-for-you ingredients (one of her greatest talents, in my opinion). What really sold me, though, is the fact that she’s real. She struggles with confidence, following a consistent workout schedule and not scarfing down an entire jar of almond butter in one sitting just like the rest of us. But unlike the average person (read: me), she doesn’t view self-care as a weekly face mask or bubble bath; she sees it as a lifelong challenge — and that’s exactly why this book is a must-read for everyone who wants to achieve the same health and happiness as Bronfman.