If there is one thing that unites almost every person around the globe after this past year, it is that our lifestyles were all tested in some way. Quarantines and social distancing measures have changed many of our active lives into more sedentary ones. Lockdowns have led many of us to turn to comforts in times of unknown and often just out of boredom. Our motivations and discipline to exercise have been tested, especially with the decrease in general access to workout equipment and gyms. It’s a recipe for ups and downs, and we all are going through it, together.

For many of us, we have seen the numbers go up on the scale and the pants get a little bit tighter. The ups and downs have been emotional, but also quite literal and physical. That is why the image of Will Smith with a bit of a burgeoning belly broke the internet.

Will is in the “worst shape” of his life

Will announced his weight gain to the world in an Instagram post where he is casually standing half naked by the water. The caption on the already iconic photograph reads, “I’m gonna be real wit yall – I’m in the worst shape of my life.” Smith is known for having a typically toned and almost hero-like physique, which is why within the context of what we’ve all been through, the photograph is actually quite profound.

Liked over 6.6 million times, Will’s Instagram post garnered close to over 99,000 comments including from celebrity friends. As Questlove eloquently said in a comment on the photo, “This is the most amazing post in the history of social media.”

In his next post, Will stands proudly in only black underwear saying in his caption, “This is the body that carried me through an entire pandemic and countless days grazing thru the pantry. I love this body, but I wanna FEEL better. No more midnight muffins…this is it! Imma get in the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!!!!! Teaming up with @YouTube to get my health & wellness back on track. Hope it works!”

The YouTube series titled Best Shape of My Life follows Will embarking upon an all-around fitness and health journey. It was stated in a release that in the series you will see, “Smith challenging himself to improve every aspect of his fitness, from agility to power to recovery and more, teaming up with guests including pro athletes, scientists and experts, and top YouTube creators.”

It’s not really about how he looks though

Will appreciates his body for all that it does for him, but for his personal norm, he is not currently at his baseline. In his own words he says, “I wanna FEEL better,” putting a great emphasis on the word feel. Will’s weight loss transformation journey is not about what anyone else thinks of his current weight, it is about how he feels about it. The same applies for all of us. Your weight and physical appearance are no one else’s business but your own, and your physical health is your own responsibility as well.

Will Smith is known for putting smiles on the faces of others. He has been making millions laugh since his days as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and girls swoon since at least Bad Boys or Independence Day. Now he is motivating others to put in the hard work one step (or rep) at a time.

For Will, midnight muffins are his kryptonite. For you, it may be something else. The bottom line is that our comforts can become vices if we do not keep them in check. Overhauling your lifestyle, even if you have done it before, can be tough, and letting go of those habits can feel like they’re never going to happen. But, as with many things in life, patience is a virtue. When you put in the work, you see, or better yet feel, the results.

Perhaps Dr. Oz said it best in Will’s comments when he said, “I’m glad you are out here owning it, Will. 42% of folks have come out of the last year a little rounder than expected. But, we’ve made it through, and a healthier tomorrow is around the corner for us. For anyone out there struggling—start small… add some FRESH greens to your diet.”

What he plans to do next

The Fresh Prince decided to take a brave approach and share his transformation experience with the world by partnering up with YouTube to document his journey. Physical health and mental health are greatly intertwined, and so it should be interesting to see how Will’s journey unfolds on camera. In fact, considering Will’s playful nature, the series should be highly entertaining as well.

It would seem that hilarity has already began to ensue as Will has received an influx of DMs of workouts and photographs of men posing in black underwear just like Smith. He shared some of the content on his Instagram saying under the photos of men in briefs, “Hahahahaha – Let’s go get it! After pics due in 12 weeks! #bigwilliechallenge

The “#BigWillieChallenge” as Will calls it may just be the social media moment many of us have been waiting for. It is a moment of realness that breaks through the classically shiny Hollywood image. Will Smith with a “dad bod” was the icebreaker we all needed to stop hiding under bulky sweaters and big t-shirts with shame. Embrace your body no matter how you feel about the reflection in the mirror, it does so much for us and asks only to be loved in return.

Self-love is a universal journey

Will Smith may be a multitalented Hollywood A-List superstar, but he is still at the end of the day a human being going through a pandemic. That is what Will’s picture that broke the internet signifies. Late night muffins and trips to the pantry is only one side to the story and the YouTube docuseries promises to reveal the rest.

Love yourself at all shapes and sizes, and if you find yourself in a place where you want to change, do so in a safe manner. Self-care is also prioritizing your health. While Will Smith’s version of “the worst shape of my life” may be someone else’s best shape right now, or far from it, remember to try not to compare yourself to others. Your journey is not their journey, just as your body is not theirs either.

Our lifestyles have all been tested and we have all had to adapt. Some changes are welcome while others are not. Deciphering which ones are which is a decision that is totally up to you, and taking action is a choice that no one else can make for you either. Kindness and acceptance of who you are is key, and physical or mental self-improvement can be pivotal as well.

Your life is your own, with its own unique blessings and its own unique struggles. Love it for how it is, what is isn’t, and what you hope one day it can be. Start with the small steps to get to the big strides. Day one isn’t always glamorous, but in the end, it is the day that you are most thankful for.