This past summer, I was in the best physical shape that I have ever been in. I was exercising regularly, eating well, getting enough sleep, and just giving my body some much-needed attention. It was definitely the definition of a self-care summer.

So, to no surprise, I spent the summer taking a record-winning number of mirror selfies. And, not just any mirror selfies. I had my (almost) abs exposed and my leg muscles flexed. Who can blame me? I felt good! During those months, I actually enjoyed wearing crop tops and never passed up the opportunity to take photos at the beach.

Seeing genuine evidence of my personal growth made me feel incredible.

However, though my self-love was bubbling at the time, I now almost wish I hadn’t taken as many progress photos. Looking back at these pictures has started to make me feel guilty that I haven’t been consistent with my self-care routines. I’ve come to the conclusion that these types of photos only really make you feel good if you keep up with the progress.

Of course, I haven’t let myself go completely; my body just isn’t where it was a few months ago.

Coming back to the craziness of school and work, I don’t have the time to visit the gym as frequently as I did over the summer. The same thing goes for how I eat. Having to pack a lunch almost every day can be exhausting. Sometimes, you just have to settle for cereal.

The thing is, all of this is okay. It seems like I’m trying to justify my diet and exercise habits, when there is absolutely nothing that I should be justifying at all! Reducing the intensity of your exercise routine and seeing fluctuations in weight is completely normal; it shows you know how to listen to your current mental state and adapt to the changes life throws at you.

So, I’m writing about this as a way to hold myself accountable– not for getting back into a better routine, but for loving myself again. Change happens, but it doesn’t mean you have to hate on yourself because of it.

Similarly, for those of you who are feeling better than ever, be proud of yourself in the moment!

I now am able to see that I was stuck in the constant mindset of thinking “I look good, but I’m not quite where I need to be.” Looking back at my photos, I’m kicking my past self for saying this! I should have acknowledged how far I had come, instead of measuring how much farther I had to go.

So now, I’m working on regaining genuine self-love and confidence. I’m trying to push away all thoughts of myself “backtracking,” and replace them with the concept that my body is simply adapting to life instead. After all, as long as you are healthy and happy, having a slightly squishier tummy doesn’t mean anything.