I began my journey into the fitness industry with a lot of hang-ups concerning whether or not I would be able to pull this off. Not because I feared I wouldn’t be able to learn and be properly certified, or that I lacked enthusiasm and passion, or even that I couldn’t connect with potential clients. My biggest fear was that I didn’t meet the physical criteria of a fitness professional.
In retrospect, I realize this isn’t really a thing. When I was undergoing my credentialing process, I was never asked how much I weighed, how snatched my waist was, or how much I could bench. Nonetheless, my body image issues were destroying my confidence and I genuinely feared rejection.
I’m in love with the recent movement towards redefining beauty. You’ve seen it, “Strong is the New Beautiful” “Real women are whatever the want to be” etc. etc. This sounds good, the thought of it feels good, but the truth of the matter is that loving the skin you’re in can be hard. Really hard. Conversely, it’s also hard to live in opposition to who and what you are.
I was a psych major and instructor at one time. I haven’t studied anything in that area in quite some time, but I used to teach the concept of cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is anxiety or stress provoked by opposing thoughts, behaviors, or ideas. The only way around said dissonance is to modify your thoughts to fit your actions or your actions to accommodate your thoughts. The bottom line for where I am today is that I can’t coach you on wellness when I’m living in dissonance.
I’m constantly telling my clients, I don’t ask anything of you that I don’t myself. And, I mean that. I won’t give a workout that I haven’t tried, dietary recommendations that I wouldn’t follow, nor would I set a goal I felt was beyond feasible. Along these same lines, I can’t promote wellness when my headspace surrounding my personal image is all over the place.
Disclaimer: I am a work in progress. Constant work. Slow and steady progress. But, I’m getting there. And, here’s the crazy thing, I don’t have a 1-2-3 magic list to teach body positivity and self acceptance. But, I do have a few recommendations for getting there more efficiently.
- Make health your priority: In the early stages of life, I battled excessive weight. Everyone around me was concerned with how I looked. That along with the normal stages of puberty and young adulthood, I became hyper-sensitive about my appearance. At some point, I had to shift gears. Losing the weight that I needed had to be about my health, not about my appearance. I alluded to this in my About greeting. I had/have to operate in love. Operating in love means being concerned about my health, longevity, and well-being first. Everything else and any other gains, and there are ample ways to realistically improve what you have, had to become peripheral.
- Surround yourself with positive influences: If you follow me on Instagram and check out people I follow or interact with, you’ll notice that I am attracted to like-minded individuals. I enjoy real people doing real things like taking back their health, celebrating scale and non-scale victories with the same enthusiasm, and providing sound advice that supports a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. I am not impressed by fad diets, quick fixes, or supplements that you must use to attain success. This is my MO in real life as well. I love my local Moms Run This Town and Workaddict(s) groups and others I’ve met in other fitness settings because I am encouraged and inspired by everyday people crushing major goals in running, triathlons, swimming, etc. Strong people build one another up with and without words.
- Change what you can and honor what you can’t: You know what? I’ll never have rock-hard abs. But, wait, you know clean eating, cardio, and a little core work, right? Nope, it’s not happening. When you’ve tipped the scales up and down as I have and carried a couple babies, you can bet your bottom dollar that these factors in conjunction with the way my DNA is set up that my abs are not where it’s at. I’ve had to get comfortable with working on my best belly. I celebrate when I increase my plank times, see improvements in my balance, and feel stronger in downward-facing dog. I also honor that I am a mother with a soft belly that supported my babies before they could support themselves. Am I making sense here?
I know, there’s nothing ground breaking about the information I’ve shared here. But, I want you to know, Friend, that we all have insecurities and obstacles to overcome. We’re all a work in progress. And, working on self-acceptance and body positivity should be an active part of our everyday pursuit of total wellness.
What will you do today to honor and love yourself?
Peace and blessings,