I met with Minnesota fitness-enthusiast and self-proclaimed donut-connoisseur Erin Good who shares how she became a fitness “instagrammer,” when she realized it’s okay to indulge, and how she stays authentic in everything she does.
Good starts off our Zoom interview with a laugh, confessing that she has never used Zoom before. I reassure her that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. I too was only introduced to it this year. And before COVID sent the world into a tail-spin, many people had never even heard of Zoom.
Good, who recently turned 40, lives in Apple Valley with her teenage son, who she co-parents with her former husband. Good has a bachelor’s degree in psychology as well as a master’s degree in public administration.
When I ask her what she does for a living, she politely responds, “I really don’t talk too much at all about my day job… I leave it off of social media because I try to keep it separate from my role there.” Noted.
Changing the subject to what we’re really here to discuss, I ask Good how fitness became a part of her life. “I never planned on being a fitness and food Instagrammer,” Good explains, adding that she doesn’t like calling herself an “influencer.”
“I didn’t grow up being athletic. In 2008 I started getting ready for my wedding… I started running, and I fell in love with it. I also did Jillian Michaels videos in my basement; that was my introduction into fitness.”
It’s refreshing how relatable Good’s answer is. Few people ever start working out on a whim; there’s almost always a specific reason, like a wedding or a new year.
After her wedding, Good continued running for several years. While she enjoyed it, she knew running wasn’t what she wanted to do long-term. “I ran the Twin Cities marathon in 2011, but it was one and done for me… I still like running, but I’m done with marathons. It’s a lot of work, and it’s hard on your body. Bucket list checked off.”
Although she had no plans to run another marathon, Good was determined to keep improving her fitness. She attended workout classes, continued running on the treadmill, and even tried Zumba with her girlfriends. Still, Good felt as though she hadn’t found something she was truly passionate about until her curiosity took her in a different direction.
“I bought a book about lifting weights,” she shares, explaining that the book teaches women how to lift weights properly and effectively.
Good admits that she had always avoided the weights section at the gym.
“I was intimidated by weights, and I wanted to get over that… I bought the book, and I immediately fell in love with weight-lifting.”
While she knew rather quickly that she had found something special, Good didn’t realize that her love for lifting would ultimately transform not only her body but also her life.
A few years later, with an established workout routine and following a restrictive diet, Good was ready to face a new challenge. “I decided to do a body-building competition… I got a coach and prepped for three months. I also started tracking my macros and started a food plan. It was really strict, but I loved the structure and science behind it.”
In an attempt to learn more about prepping for her competition, Good created an Instagram account so she could connect with other women who lifted weights and competed. “I watched what they did and shared what I ate- that’s when I really started ‘Instagramming.’”
After completing her first competition, Good told herself it was time for the next one. However, a month into training, she realized her heart wasn’t in it. “I didn’t have the same drive as I did for the first one, so I dropped out.” Good also had a boyfriend at the time, and she noticed the toll it was taking on their relationship and social life. “I couldn’t go out to eat or have drinks when I wanted. The first [competition] was fine because I showed myself I could do it, but I didn’t want to continue doing something I didn’t love.”
When it comes to fitness, you have to find what you love. If you don’t like to run, don’t run. There are so many things out there, you’re bound to find something you love.
Throughout Good’s workout journey, she never hesitates to switch up her routine to find something she enjoys. “When it comes to fitness, you have to find what you love. If you don’t like to run, don’t run. There are so many things out there, you’re bound to find something you love.” The same mentality fell into Good’s relationship with food. She realized she was keeping herself from eating her favorite foods, and that didn’t feel right to her; she wanted to stay true to what she advocates for: doing what you love.
“I started to realize all of the food I was missing out on… like donuts. I love donuts, but I would pass by bakeries thinking they’re for other people, they’re not for me.” It was at this point that Good decided to make a change. She knew she needed to shift her mentality and relationship with food. She wanted to find balance, a balance that felt good and allowed her to eat what she wanted. “That’s what inspired me to become a foodie,” she explains.
As Good began introducing foods into her life that she had once deemed “off-limits,” she found herself snapping photos of extravagant donuts and super-stacked burgers, in disbelief that she was about to actually eat what was in front of her. “I would take a picture and post it in the midst of all of my gym selfies and my Instagram became a platform where I showed that you can eat what you want and be fit- that’s when my Instagram really took off because I was promoting balance.”
Just one glance at Good’s Instagram and you’ll see what she’s talking about. From pizza to ice-cream to waffles and everything in between, Good certainly fits the category of “foodie.” That said, she continues to include her gym-selfies and workout routines, showing that although she does indulge in her favorite foods, working out is still an essential piece of finding balance and very much a part of her life.
When I ask her what has changed the most since shifting her focus, Good proves that it was never about an ultimate goal for her. “I’ve learned that it’s important to love your body. Don’t work out or eat a certain way because you hate your body, do it because you love your body and you want to treat it well. Do it for the endorphins and for how it makes you feel, not because of how it makes you look. Looking better is a side effect, and of course, when you look better, you feel better, but do it because you love yourself, and you want to do things that make you feel good.”
I’ve learned that it’s important to love your body. Don’t work out or eat a certain way because you hate your body, do it because you love your body and you want to treat it well.
Discussing changes to her routine and diet brings up the effect COVID has had on her position as an Instagrammer. “I’ve only been to the gym a few times since COVID started. Luckily, I collaborate with Alchemy, a local fitness studio… they have an at-home program, so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
As a food and fitness blogger, Good also partners with supplement brands, restaurants, and spas. Although many of her collaborations have been put on hold due to COVID, she talks about her love for working with local brands and restaurants, pointing out that her collaborations are what keep her connected with her followers.
“It’s fun to get to try new things out and share my experience with my followers. I never do a ‘collab’ that doesn’t feel natural or that I wouldn’t do on my own because I always want to stay authentic and true to myself and my followers. I want them to know that if I say something is good, they can trust me; I’m not just doing it because I’m being paid for it.”
Good reveals that one of the most rewarding aspects as a fitness and food Instagrammer is learning that she has helped someone. Whether it’s from a product or service she has promoted, or from showing others that you can find balance between being healthy and eating what you love, Good frequently has followers reach out and express their gratitude. “I really love when people tell me that they tried something I suggested and they love it, or that it’s helped them… to take the time to reach out to me and be vulnerable with me, that’s the best.”
Of course, there are certain topics that Good finds herself more hesitant to include on her Instagram. “I sometimes question whether or not to share more personal things I’m going through, like my mental health, body image, or depression, but when my followers thank me for being open, it makes it all worth-while.”
Good notes that in the beginning, when she had a smaller following, she found it easier to be open. As her following has grown, she finds herself thinking a little harder about what she shares about herself. “You have to be a little bit more aware and conscientious when you have more eyes on you. I never want to offend anyone. I think things over a little more, but in the end, I usually end up sharing. I think it’s important to be vulnerable. I want people to know that what they’re feeling is normal, and we all go through hard times… we’re all just out here doing our best.”
In the end, I usually end up posting what I want because I want to be realistic. It’s important to get rid of the stereotype that moms can’t wear a bikini. I work hard to be fit and to have a body that I feel confident in.
Mental health isn’t the only issue Good struggles with including on social media. As a 40-year-old mother with a teenage boy, she understands the downside of sharing her lifestyle on social media. She worries about how her photos will affect her son, oftentimes second-guessing posting a picture of herself in a bikini.
At the same time, Good finds herself conflicted as she aims to get rid of the stigma that moms shouldn’t dress a certain way or portray themselves in a certain light. “In the end, I usually end up posting what I want because I want to be realistic. It’s important to get rid of the stereotype that moms can’t wear a bikini. I work hard to be fit and to have a body that I feel confident in.” Well said. And that doesn’t only go for mothers. Good hopes to inspire all women to follow her lead and feel free to dress in whatever way makes them feel confident. She urges women to believe that there is no shame in feeling good about yourself, no matter your age. Good never ceases to promote the same message: do what you love and what makes you feel good.
You can’t wait for happiness to come in the form of another person or a material thing, and that’s one thing that this year has shown everyone. You have to love yourself and believe that you’re stronger than you think you are.
When I ask her what her goals are moving forward, Good points out that she likes to allow things to happen organically, as that is where she has found the most success. “I put effort and work into everything I do, but I don’t have any plans on what I want to do next. I just put myself out there, and the world comes back to me in ways that make sense, and I go with it.”
Much like throughout her fitness journey, Good puts her faith in trial and error, and there is no denying it has been successful for her. From running to lifting to dieting, and ultimately finding balance, Good’s efforts have proven effective and helpful for both her and her followers, and she hopes that she can continue inspiring others. And with her final words, I don’t doubt that she will.
“Stay authentic and stay true to who you are because that’s what matters in the end. Know your worth, and really love yourself- that’s the key to happiness. You can’t wait for happiness to come in the form of another person or a material thing, and that’s one thing that this year has shown everyone. You have to love yourself and believe that you’re stronger than you think you are.”