People often ask me how I keep coming up with things to write about or if I ever run out of ideas. Sure I do. But I know something will always come to me as long as I just keep living life and paying attention.
This past Friday morning at 9:59am I had no idea what my next blog post would be about. Then I had a 10:00 meeting that inspired what I think is about to be one of the most important messages I’ve written.
The formula for my posts is: Inspiration + Personal Experience = Making a Connection
Well, the inspiration was the new yoga teacher that is joining my team at the Y. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; I’ve never met a yogi that I don’t like. I don’t know what it is… yoga people just seem to “get it”, ya know? It’s that whole awareness thing (yes, that’s the whole point of yoga – not flexibility.)
So anyways, this yoga teacher just happens to be old enough to be my mother and she calls me a “kid” which I take no offense to. I don’t know how we got on the topic, just two yogis talking about life I guess, but we began discussing the self-love movement that started in the last couple of years.
The WHAT, you ask?
Yes, it’s a movement. You see, about 40ish years ago “aerobics” became a thing. Those were the days of Jazzercise and then step aerobics. Women everywhere were becoming cardio queens and going on diets because deep down, all women have some body image issues going on and they figured this would solve the problem! (*sigh*)
Back to the conversation in my office last Friday….my yoga teacher friend said something that hit me like a ton of bricks (and I’m paraphrasing here)… “When I was your age, no one talked about accepting or loving ourselves. We were all just trying to look like Twiggy. It was all about losing weight, all the time.” (She asked me if I knew who Twiggy was, I said I thought so then googled Twiggy later and I was right, I did know. But all I really needed to know is that she was nicknamed after a twig…)
Here comes the personal experience part. You know that phenomenon when you look at an old picture of yourself and you think “Wow I looked great, I wish I had known that!” because you know that the you in the picture wasn’t feeling good about herself when the picture was taken?
I just had that experience the other day when pictures from my friend’s wedding popped up on Facebook for their 6th anniversary. I was a bridesmaid and as I scrolled through the pictures I thought “dang Steph! Looking good!” but I know at the time I was feeling “fat” and insecure and was comparing myself to other bridesmaids who were smaller than me.
It all goes back to Twiggy (seriously, who gave her that nickname?) Women have just had it drilled into our heads for decades that we need to be smaller. Have smaller bodies, have smaller opinions, have smaller voices, just shrink into the background so you don’t make anyone uncomfortable okay?
Sorry, I’m getting off on a rant.
Now I’m back to talking about that awful feeling you get when you look at an old picture and you start kicking yourself for not enjoying that moment in time because you were drowning in insecurity. Maybe you still are. When will it end?
It will end when you decide to appreciate where you are right now today. We are always wishing for a past or future version of ourselves. But why? We can’t go back and that future self is just imaginary at this point. We need to enjoy the now.
Don’t you DARE let yourself look back on entire DECADES of your life and have that same feeling of looking back on an old picture.
Don’t you DARE spend all of your time and energy looking in a mirror and thinking about what you should “fix” about yourself when you could be using that time and energy looking out into the world to see what actual problems you can fix.
Don’t you DARE let yourself believe that being desired aka “looking hot” is more important than pursuing your desires.
If you are around my age (I’m 31) then you are SO LUCKY to be a young woman living in a time when self-acceptance and self-love IS talked about. If you’re 21 you’re even luckier! I spent my whole 20’s thinking I had to fit some sort of ideal of what a fitness professional “should” look like and hating that I didn’t.
I’m just grateful I only lost one decade. If you’re 41, 51, 61….you still have the chance to change your perspective and to start accepting and loving yourself.
We are so lucky to live in a time where this whole idea that you just might be alright, enough even, just the way you are has been presented. Now all we have to do is believe it.
There’s a catch. This whole “self-love movement” is a backlash. It’s the pendulum swinging the other way. I love the message and I preach it. It is a much needed breath of fresh air and so necessary. Women need to hear this message, it’s so important. But like anything else, it can be taken too far.
There’s nothing wrong with having fitness goals or weight loss goals. The problem is when they take over your life and steal your joy. It is simply too easy to slip into unhealthy and obsessive behavior if you are setting goals from a place of self-hatred and wanting to “fix” your body.
That is why I decided to create a self confidence course for women and why I’m so passionate about it. It’s not because I hate fitness. I love it! I work full time at a gym and I teach group exercise classes. I’m not living some double life here. I just realized that I had things in the wrong order.
Self-acceptance and self-love come FIRST then self-improvement.
For years I was helping clients strengthen not only their physical muscles but also their comparison muscles and their self-loathing muscles. They wanted to “fix” their bodies and I was subscribing to that and helping them.
If I ever own a group fitness studio again (which I probably won’t) I would make taking my confidence course a pre-requisite before attending a class. The desire for self-improvement has got to come from a place of love, not hate, if it’s truly going to be a positive change. Otherwise, we’re just going to have a bunch of really fit and really miserable people on our hands and no one wants that.
I realize I’ve been all over the place in this post but it’s coming straight from the heart. I don’t want a minor regret, wishing I had appreciated how I looked 6 years ago, to turn into a major regret of wishing I hadn’t wasted my entire adult life wanting to be less of who I was in any way. That’s not going to be my story. Don’t let it be yours either. Don’t you dare.