Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day!  What a great day in America. So much fun, full of fireworks, laughter, parades, showing support and camaraderie for living in an incredible country.  Guess what though? I have been thinking lately about how incredible it is to also be independent of negative body image and self talk.  There have been numerous instances the past weeks allowing me to free myself of certain barriers holding me back... for whatever reasons; many that I didn't even realize still existed. Be independent of those barriers my friends, be independent!

Throughout the past 14 days I have put on a special challenge for anyone needing a push and jump start in their health and fitness. The Challenge came to be because of some boot campers coming to class, but feeling in a rut, and from hearing others share the same sentiments. So I decided I'd put a Challenge together to challenge myself to get out of my rut, to encourage people to feel clean from the inside out. I had no idea along the way while doing the videos I would gain more body confidence and more independence of certain ideals holding me back.

When I was 14-24 I suffered an eating disorder, but body image issues began when I was in elementary school.  I remember writing in an old Ramona Quimby journal at age 10 that my wish for my birthday was to lose 10 pounds.  At age 10 I thought that!  I did sports and was active, but always felt the squat girl in school.  In Junior High I played soccer, swim team, had fun with friends but the little voice was in the back of my brain saying I was to big for what I was "supposed to be". Gradually the eating disorder started in 8th grade.  While dormant off and on throughout my teens, it would leap out to bite me in the arse whenever there were stressful situations. Ironically having an eating disorder is what helped me decide to get into the field of health and fitness in High School.  I had a desire to help other girls develop their self-esteem through athletics. I gained more and more confidence each month as I learned about my own strengths within.  But there would be days I would look at myself in the mirror and think of Jyo B. calling me a short fat girl my freshman year. I was a whopping 97 pounds.  Incredible how the nasty comments by someone when young can stick with you; their hurt full words do sting like a bee. But you can free yourself from their poisonous sting with lots of miles and mental  coaching.

E Riding Proudly on 4th of July
The stinging sensation that crawls under your skin with every negative comment, either from someone else or from your inner voices, is horrid.  I wouldn't wish that upon my worst enemy. It breaks your soul into pieces, and picking up the mess of the pieces is a long process.  A very long process that can be done, it truly can.  It can happen with time, therapy, confidence, courage and believing in yourself.  Fortunate for me, I have had an incredibly supportive family and got married to the most supportive husband a girl could ask for. Both of whom helped me discover and evolve the inner strengths I had, while I was helping other women and men do the same.

Rush forward to June 2012.  I have been in the health and fitness industry since I was 20, learning so much each class I teach.  I want to always instill body confidence in every client, regardless of what size the participant is.  One of the goals is for my clients is to leave the notions at the door of what they "should" look like, where they were size wise as a collegiate athlete, and focus with where they are NOW  There is no shortage of time to make themselves the healthiest and strongest they have ever been, but they have to start with where their body is currently.  You can't go back in time, but only can move forward and create the life you want to live.  Naturally with that growth comes an inner strength and courage to accept and love their bodies. To conquer the demons of "I can't", "I hate my belly", "I wish my back was strong" is hard work. It is change and getting strong through push ups, pull ups, sprints, high jumps. With each repetition  of the exercises, there are kind words of support to themselves.  Repeating, "This year will be my best yet.  I CAN DO THIS! I will talk to myself the way I would my children and my best friend."  Yes, it can sound a bit silly at first but it works.  Repetition works.

HAPPY & Independent Mama and E
What also works is being a role model to those around you, the little ones who look up to you each day.  For me it is our  little girls who you have a desire to raise to strong young women proud of their bodies, proud of their ability to run far and play hard.  To know my daughters only know of a scale for stepping on it proudly to see how "big" they are growing is significant to me, verses stepping on a scale to see how much they weigh.  Watching them ask to do pull ups on the bar in our kitchen warms my heart.  Hearing them ask to go for bike rides and admire the muscles in their legs while cycling melts me.  Listening to them sing loudly as they practice cartwheels repeatedly is music to my ears.  Little bubbles of joy let out each time I see them compliment themselves and their strengths. 

Thus, repetition of kindness, support and giving compliments to yourself are great ways to improve your self esteem. It helps you gain more independence of the negative thoughts that seem to hinder around.  When filming the Challenge videos, I have laughed at the funny angles of my body.  I've noticed phrases I repeat to much and that my core is strong but can use more strengthening. But with noticing both, I realized don't feel bad for who I am and what my body looks like. I see how encouraging I am towards those I film the videos for.  I have noticed that while I may be short and a mesomorph, my back muscles pop out from doing thousands of push ups and pull ups.  While watching the videos, I became truly aware of the little amount of time it's been post surgeries to now watching my body comfortably jump all over the camera motivating others to do the same.  I notice my interactions with my youngest daughter when she pops into filming; how easy and happy she is playing.  While I have learned certain angles are better than others, I feel good that doing the videos share and show you can be a real Mom, an athlete, raise happy little kids, juggle work while making health, fitness and yourself a priority in life.  I also notice that it shows I am HAPPY. The happiness and confidence comes across on camera.  That is the best gift I have given myself, my kids, my friends, and clients. 

While I am naturally an optimistic and happy person, the happiness on camera that shows is a byproduct from gaining independence of the old negative body image thoughts.  Sure, I would love to look like Dara Torres but I never will and I am perfectly fine with that.  I can admire her incredible strength and the hours put in to developing those muscles. I am the one and only ME, and you are the one and only YOU.  Love your body...short, tall, apple, pear, with extra love on your hips or extra love on your tummy.  Love your body as it changes and grows, getting stronger and more solid each workout.  Thank your body for allowing you to push through each day, with every activity  you do.  Enjoy your body as it becomes the healthiest yet.  

I ask independent of negative thoughts from this 4th of July on. Look at your ONE body and love it.  If you have little elements you want to change- do sports and activities that make you feel good.  Open up to embrace your COURAGE!!  Look at what you have done with life, who you are, and what you want to become.  YOU can become anything and do anything at any age. Right now, I am going to become a sweaty mess and embrace my strong legs and back while doing so in the gym.

Happy Independence Day!!

xoxoxo Erin

* Take a moment to read the post on Scales. Also a byproduct of the Challenge, and helping others.  Put my weight out there without thinking twice.  *

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I am probably out running, but I thank you for taking the time to share. I look forward to your additional input as this blog grows and evolves.
Erin Kreitz Shirey