Kevin Carnell is more than just an Instagram star (with nearly 80,000 followers). The 25-year old is also an activist -- seen biking at the 2015 and 2016 AIDS/LifeCycle wearing only a small, tight Speedo and a smile. Carnell ended up raising $10,000 for people with HIV while on the ride. Expect him again next year too. But don't let his sexy snaps fool you. Carnell wasn't always so confident.
After dealing with low self-esteem and poor body image all his life, Carnell finally came out five years ago, explaining to The Advocate that he wanted to find a way to love himself and embrace who he was without the sexual attention of others.
"I would sleep with [guys], using my body with the hopes of being desired and kept -- only to be tossed aside for the next best thing. It wasn't the best decision, but it was something that I needed to learn."
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He goes on to say that his fitness journey came about by making a promise to himself that he's worth more.
"If I wanted to be happy with how I viewed myself, I needed to set a goal and start from within," he admits. "[Fitness] shaped how I saw myself, without the input or advice from others. When I see myself every morning, I only have one person to answer to, one person to compare myself to, and one person to impress. It was never about having the perfect body. It was about having the perfect mind-set for how I viewed my body."
He says he looks back at "old photos of myself and I'm so happy to see my journey ... I'm happiest knowing I was able to chisel the way I viewed myself and value the importance of my self-worth, aside from sexual attention. I don't have a goal weight, goal bench press max, etc. I push myself to the limits I am comfortable with and go off of how I feel. Our bodies and our time on this earth are temporary, so I'm looking to make the most of it."