Former Bachelor Sam Wood has hit back at trolls who accused him of faking his body transformation photo as a "marketing" ploy for his online fitness program.
The personal trainer took to Instagram to share two side-by-side photos showing his weight loss after undergoing his own "28 by Sam Wood" challenge for two months.
"You might recognise this bloke…..Last year I was sick of going through the motions so on the first of September I joined my own 8 week challenge and these are the results," he wrote alongside the before-and-after photos.
"I made a decision and I went for it and I cannot believe how much better I feel. Forget how I look. It's how I feel.
"More energy, better mood, more confidence, sleeping better, more productive. Feeling better mentally and physically in every way. I needed a circuit breaker. I needed to get out of a rut."
While dozens of fans gushed over Sam's transformation, some social media users claimed the TV personality had pushed his stomach out to make his results seem more drastic.
"It would be more authentic if you held the same posture in both photos, rather than sticking out your stomach in the first?" one person commented.
"Bahaha… anyone can look like that if they push out their stomach! Nice marketing," said another.
"But someone has to say we can't be serious with this before and after posture/angle/lighting…I hope that 'quick fix' challenge expectations don't lead people down the wrong path."
In a raw video posted to Instagram on Monday, the father-of-three denied the photos were misleading and said he uploaded them to share his progress.
"It was just me being proud of where I'd come from and also wanting to most importantly own where I was at before I started to take control of my fitness and health again because I was not physically or mentally in a very good place," he said.
Sam, 41, said that while he wasn't suffering from mental health issues, he felt lethargic, run down and "a bit defeated" during the pandemic.
"I could see some cellulite, my posture was terrible and my belly was sticking out and I thought 'f--k me, I've really hit rock bottom'," he continued.
"As someone who prides themselves on their position in the health and fitness industry and has typically taken very good care of themselves, this was the worst shape I've ever been in my life."
Sam went on to deny he used photoshop or filters on the photos, and hit back at claims he deliberately tried to make himself look heavier to use "misleading" before photos.
"I was letting my guts out, I wasn't sticking them out but they were definitely hanging out naturally because that's where I was at. And [in the second shot] my posture improved and my tummy muscles tightened," he said.
"Everyone's so quick to judge, so quick to hate, so quick to be skeptical, so quick to be cynical, so quick to think you're a d--k head and think it's some big marketing scam."
Sam admitted that while the lighting in the "after" photo was more flattering, he "wasn't trying to trick anybody or be misleading".
"I've worked my absolute a-- off and I've never trained that hard or been that disciplined with my food, eaten that well."
"I'm sharing it to show that I'm real and was struggling like so many others as so many assume that as a fitness guy I'm always in good shape.
"It was scary and confronting to share a pic that I hate looking at but once it's out there, it's actually incredibly empowering and liberating."