Mom-of-two Rachel Graham is one brave, inspiring woman.
The popular weight loss Instagrammer shared a photo of her excess skin, a side effect of dropping over 90 lbs. Her honest post struck a cord with her 107,000 followers, who thanked Graham for talking about something that often goes unspoken.
“Ever since I started my Instagram, I’ve wanted to keep true to being honest about every aspect of this journey. The good, the bad … insecurities and all,” she tells PEOPLE. “I find that sometimes it’s easy to pick which photos I like the most of myself and add them online – but there’s more to my journey than just posed pictures at the best angles. I want to keep it ‘real’ to those following my journey, and my excess skin is my reality.”
Graham, 24, started documenting her attempt to lose the weight she’d gained after having her sons on Instagram to keep herself accountable. That was what finally worked after trying tons of diets over the years, and along with finding healthy recipes on Pinterest and going for daily walks, she dropped 83 lbs. in a year.
Still, she was nervous about exposing the excess skin she had hidden with high-waisted shorts.
“I’ve always struggled with my self-esteem, and I was hesitant to make myself so vulnerable to such a large audience,” Graham, who lives in Nova Scotia, explains. “My excess skin is an insecurity of mine, and while I’m learning to love this body – loose skin and all, I was nervous putting myself so ‘out there’ for everyone to see.”
But Graham heard only cheers from her followers after sharing the photos.
“I have received such an outpouring of love from so many people who can relate,” she says. “I truly didn’t anticipate this much encouragement and support from everyone. Reading the responses really left me emotional!”
And posting the photos is helping Graham – who struggled with eating disorders growing up, before going in the opposite direction and gaining weight during her pregnancies – to accept her body.
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“When I began this journey, I felt as though I would LOVE my body if I just lost the weight, but it isn’t that easy,” she says. “Would knowing I might end up with loose skin prevent me from carrying on with this journey? NO! Absolutely not. My stomach has grown two beautiful boys and has been through a large weight loss.”
“I am so much healthier not only physically, but also mentally. What’s more important though, is that the loose skin that I have doesn’t hold me back like the weight used to.”