Ran across some old photos and videos. I sure am anxious to get back to being active. I’ve had to learn to take it down a few notches in the last 9 months, which has been humbling, challenging, frustrating, and also refreshing. All in all it’s made me a stronger woman, and I’m grateful for how much I’ve had to transform through learning my own limits. Yet, I can’t help but anticipate the possibilities when I see these:
That’s me at the start of the year. I was fresh off of a life-changing move, in the habit of drinking nightly, and I ate whatever I wanted.
As women, we constantly have messages communicated to us about why we aren’t beautiful. We either aren’t skinny enough, aren’t curvy enough, don’t have the right hair or eye color, have too many tattoos, have too much acne, etc. I have struggled…oh have I struggled…to feel secure in myself.
If you can manage to find love and appreciation for your body despite these messages, you’ve achieved the ultimate victory. I’m striving for this myself.
As I work toward this, I want to offer a message of gratitude to my own body for all it’s done for me. I didn’t always fuel my body properly, I (still) utter negative comments in my mind while looking in the mirror, and I have allowed others to make me feel ashamed of my shape, my skin’s color, and the texture of my hair. Despite these things, my body still stretches and rises out of bed each morning, my body powers through workouts, my body heals itself when it gets sick, and it hasn’t shut down on me no matter how many sleepless nights and early mornings I’ve put it through. Let’s not forget it’s also housed one healthy baby, and allowed me to breastfeed for 12 consecutive months afterward. My body is amazing!
Thanks to my body, I have achieved things I thought weren’t possibilities for me. Thanks to my body I am stronger, faster, more flexible, and more confident.
As I’ve learned to appreciate my body more – through coaching, through working out regularly, through cleaner eating, through pole dancing – I have come to see how imperative it is that I feed my body with what it needs, and none of what it doesn’t. On the surface, this seems like a dietary vow, but it’s much more than that. I’m making a pact with myself to stop taking in such negative messages about what I am or what I’m not. I already know what I am. I refuse to poison myself with what others may project onto me. My body isn’t shameful; it’s a useful and remarkable tool.
My upline coach and Beachbody mentor Laurel has been after me since I joined the team to really get down to the true reason for why fitness and nutrition are so important to me. She keeps pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone and show who I truly am, so I’m going to do my best.
Not every fitness story involves the loss of weight – Some involve the loss of a loved one.
It’s March 25th, and this is normally a time of year when I am somber, miserable, weepy, and heartbroken. The reason why is because on March 29, 1991, my world was forever turned upside down when my mom’s mom, my beloved grandma, a woman who sat at the center of my 5 ½ year old universe, died. She contracted pneumonia and fluid filled her lungs. She left behind seven children and one grandchild. She was 57 years old. She was morbidly obese.
Try as I might, I cannot ever let go of the pain I connect to this time of year. We lost her over 20 years ago, but in many ways, it feels as if it was only yesterday. Perhaps that’s because I had to live with the aftermath of her passing. In the wake of her death, my grandfather, her widower, slipped into a depression. My mother, her only daughter, battled her own grief and frustration as she tried to find a way to still be a mom, wife, sister, and daughter to her remaining family members while also losing her best friend. There aren’t many women on my mom’s side of the family, so losing our matriarch was harrowing. I became forever scarred at a young age from her passing. It was a lot for my 5 ½ year old soul to carry.
It still is.
I celebrate her life as much as I can. There are photos of she and my grandfather on their wedding day hanging in my living room, and each September my mother and I commemorate her birthday together. However, I also carry an animosity, not towards her necessarily, but definitely towards her mindset. My grandmother made it her life to take care of others. She was an excellent mother to all eight of her kids. I don’t know how she did it, because I have my hands full with just my own daughter. She was a God-fearing woman who sang and clapped and lifted her hands in praise at church each Sunday while teaching lessons of virtue as written straight from the Bible. She was loving and caring. I still long for her soft, warm hugs on days when life overwhelms me. But she never thought to turn inward and do a few favors for herself.
I used to think, “If only she had gotten a gastric bypass…” or “If only we could’ve gotten her a nutritionist.” “If only she could have survived, we could have made things better after she came home from the hospital,” and “If only we could have made things different.” Now that I am a fitness coach, I think, “If only she could see me now…”
The truth is, I do this because I know what kind of damage poor health and obesity can cause. These are avoidable conditions, and I’ve watched them both rip my family apart. I love my grandmother very much (So much. SO much.) but I also think it’s unfair that she left us all to mourn her when we were most vulnerable. It’s selfish of me to say that, but in many ways, it was selfish of her to not take better care of herself for the sake of her family. Dying at the age of 57 is not a normal occurrence. It is not natural. That only happens when you have a serious health condition that debilitates you. A normal lifespan is much longer than 57 years…
So, as I settle into my official new title as coach, I am channeling my passion to see people turn off the path of poor choices for their health and jump onto the path of good nutrition and exercise. I do not want to build an army of terminators. I’m not looking to make anyone into a bikini model or iron man. However, if choking down some healthy greens and sweating it out three times a week keeps a middle aged man alive long enough to see his grandkids graduate from high school, then I’m ecstatic to have done my job. I will always love and miss my grandmother – to the point that it hurts me – but I am working to turn her painful death into a call to action for me and everyone else I meet.