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Toxic Social Media December 06 2017

I have come to the realization that some of my social media spaces are rather toxic for me. Actually, I must admit, I realized this quite a bit of time ago. A while back, I made my rounds through Facebook and started to unfollow various groups and/or friends. I didn't want to leave groups or unfriend people, but I didn't want any notifications or posts on my timeline anymore due to the negativity certain people or groups were causing me. 

Roughly a year ago, I joined a handful of childfree Facebook groups. In case you don't know me all too well, I am childfree. I have chosen a life that does not include having children. Sometimes I feel a little bombarded by parental posts on social media and as a person who has opted to not have children, I wanted a space to share with like-minded individuals. By joining these groups, I felt like I didn't have to explain a part of my life that is important to me. There are more parents than people who are childfree/childless and I enjoyed knowing there were people who understood a choice of mine! I think everyone wants to feel like they belong somewhere. And for those who are childfree, we get tired of answering probing questions or judgments regarding our choices to not have children. 

I'm not anti-kid and I don't go around calling parents mombies, breeders, etc. Umm. That's mean, right? I don't think it's okay to tear people down, regardless of what their beliefs or lifestyles are. In fact, especially if their beliefs and/or lifestyle choices are different from mine. 

After being in these groups for some time and learning that their tone towards parents was negative, judgmental, and rude, I decided I had enough. In the past, I would shrug off what I deemed judgment and borderline bullying by members of these groups. I have been trying to channel a "live and let live" mentality. But I had to draw the line when a member had posted an article about a woman who had experienced 4 live births and 6 miscarriages and was expressing her pride of her body after the toll of childbearing. Here was a mom who carved out time in her day to help boost the self esteem of other moms. And when it was posted on the childfree groups, the members swooped in to state how ugly they thought her body was and that she should not feel any pride or confidence in herself. Um, excuse me?! I DO NOT stand for body shaming. For anyone! Typically, I stay low-key in practically all of the groups that I am a member of, but I could not stay silent on this post. I made a comment claiming it's not right for anyone to drag someone else down. It's not right to make anyone feel bad about their body. EVER. After another member responded that this mom was just looking for sympathy and her body was nothing to take pride in, I knew these spaces were no longer a good fit for me. I will not stick around for that sort of bullying. I will not be surrounded in such toxic thoughts. I won't be having any of that. 

I went through all the groups that I belong to and started leaving. I left each and every group that didn't serve me. I left News groups from back home. Most of them stir up rumors and some even include undertones of bullying and bigotry. I had only maintained my membership of those groups to keep in the know of what was going on. But really, most of them serve as maintaining the status of a nosy Nancy. I also left groups related to fitness or personal training that I did not see eye-to-eye with and who's foundation was only conforming to the 'take up less space' and 'there are no excuses' rhetoric. The groups that claim weight loss is the only way for fitness to pave and fat people just need structure, less excuses, and a good program to kick their ass into skinny jeans. I will not stick around for that. 

I encourage you to go through your social media accounts and notice which people, organizations, groups, etc. are serving you or would be better off without. I guarantee you will feel relieved to not see bullying, drama, gossip, and overall negative vibes in your feeds. 

Carry on with confidence


New Years Resolutions December 06 2017

Here we come around again to the end of another year. Time just flies, doesn't it?! We're amidst the holidays. The time of the year that includes the hustle and bustle of gift giving, making travel/family plans, and feeling hopeful as we near the countdown to 2018. 

You might be bombarded with the "New Year, New You" bullsh*t marketing tactics and campaigns that are trying to sell you a better version of you. The ones where they try to sell this 'too good to be true' concept but the product/service they are selling will finally help you do xyz. 

Listen. You don't need the fitness/diet/health industries tell you that you aren't good enough. Any organization that doesn't think you're a fantastic person right now isn't in your corner. You know -- the organizations that are labeling foods or activities as good or bad and preach the NO EXCUSES mantra. They don't have some magic pill that will erase all of your problems. The health/fitness industry makes over $24 BILLION dollars per year, so I don't think they always have our best interests at heart. Additionally, they're approaching the month (hello, January) that brings in the most income for the year. Know that you are a fantastic person RIGHT NOW and that while you should strive to make improvements, don't let someone knock you down from the get-go. 

I have a different approach for this time of year when I'm surrounded with pills, wraps, shakes, etc. that are trying to make me a better me. 

I like to rephrase "resolutions" as New Year intentions or goals. Last year, I tried something new for 2017. I chose a word that meant something important to me and I tried to channel that word for the rest of the year. For 2017 I focused on the word 'BOUNDARIES'. The definition of boundaries is: a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line. Basically, I wanted to define and stick to what is okay and what isn't okay with me. Boundaries became a major focus primarily within my work life and schedule. I set limits on when clients could book with me and put my foot down a little harder on my policies. I wanted clients to know what is okay and what is not okay. I realized how important it was for me and my clients to set limits. Around this time last year, I had watched a TED talk from Brene Brown about how important it is to establish boundaries. It was her TED talk that planted the boundaries idea in my head as my focus for the year. Not only are boundaries important for ourselves, but other people respect individuals who put boundaries in place and adhere to them. This really worked well for me and as the year progressed, I could notice the improvements it had made in my life. 

For 2018 my word is 'BRAVE'. The definition of brave is: possessing or exhibiting courageSince moving to Florida, I realized that I have an opportunity to start fresh. But sometimes starting fresh requires a lot of courage. I am looking forward to channeling the word brave to improve multiple areas of my life. I want to be brave enough to speak up when I know I should. I want to be brave enough to try new things that I might not otherwise try. I want to be brave enough to harness things that make me feel uncomfortable knowing that I'll learn and grow from those experiences. I want to be brave enough to stick to my values, beliefs, and morals while maintaining respect for those who might express different opinions. I want to muster up all of my courage in order to embrace being BRAVE!

I also have a number of goals that I would like to work on. It is also helpful to breakdown your goals to get a better understand of what you need to do to accomplish said goal, what obstacles might get in the way, and what sort of circumstances do you need to be prepared for. 

1. Organization (both getting things done & being tidy)
  • Make to-do lists (daily, weekly, etc.)
  • Have a cleaning schedule 
  • When is the best time of the day/week to get things done
  • Can I recruit others to help me?
2. Education / Certifications
  • Identify which certifications, events, etc. would be the most beneficial 
  • Create an annual budget to fund for any training events, travel, and other costs
  • Set aside time for studying
3. Marketing
  • Set a budget
  • Recruit professionals (if needed) - graphic designer, mentor, etc. 
  • Organize and track statistics
  • What programs/software can help me be more efficient 

4. Date Nights

  • Create favorite things to do lists or things to try lists
  • Set a budget for activities
  • Make plans in advance
  • What days/times are most convenient for making plans / when are most activities happening?

What intentions or goals do you have sights on for 2018? What do you want to accomplish and what do you need to do to make it happen? Who can help you reach your goals and what obstacles might get in the way? Cheers to our New Year! 

 

Carry on with confidence. 


Guilt Free Holidays November 21 2017

So, Thanksgiving week is finally here! Thanksgiving is one of favorite holidays. Who doesn't love spending time with family, reflecting on gratitude, and an abundance of food!? Bonus: the weather is getting cooler! Whip out the sweaters while curling up on couch. It's the best time of the year!

However, now is the time when most of the fitness industry is trying to tell us that we 'shouldn't overindulge' and if we do, we need to get back in the gym pronto to 'burn off the extra calories'.

Well, I would like to remind you that food is to be enjoyed and it is OKAY to have a little extra if you want to, guilt-free! Food is good. Food is fuel. And food can be accompanied with feelings -- sadness, happiness, celebration, etc. But we shouldn't have to feel guilt for what we are choosing to put on our plate. Also, we shouldn't judge or comment on another person's choices. Eyes on your own plate! 

My holiday strategy is to take a spoonful or two of everything that I like! This way, I get to try everything that looks yummy but hopefully avoid feeling stuffed afterwards. A little dab of this, a little dollop of that! Over the years, I have tried to bring more focus into mindful or intuitive eating into my life. Bringing focus to when my body is telling me I'm hungry, satisfied, full, craving specific tastes, etc. Additionally, what better a time to consider and appreciate where our food came from than on Thanksgiving: who grew it, processed it, shipped it, delivered it, stocked it, etc. I like to take appreciation into the journey my food made all the way to my plate. 

On to exercise ...
This time of year can be crazy busy! So it's fine if your fitness routine needs to take a backseat for a few days or a week (or however long) because it's just too much hassle to get to while juggling family, travel, cooking, shopping, etc. Maybe you need extra workouts as a stress reliever? Or maybe you get to show your visiting family your favorite place to workout while they're in town and you want to share a workout together. However, don't ever feel you need to use exercise as a way of punishment. As a fitness professional, exercise as punishment breaks my heart. You should find joy in movement, whichever way you choose to move. There is no wrong or right way to move your body. Walking, yoga, weights, dancing, stretching, etc. Do what speaks to you, what feels good, and always listen to your body. 

Carry on with confidence. 


Glorifying Obesity November 08 2017

Over the last several years, I have worked hard to truly implement a body positive foundation within my business and personal life.

What does this mean exactly? I try to offer services that can be inclusive to everyone. From teaching classes to personal training to making sure all persons can simply browse my website. Oftentimes, we get stuck in what we know and understand and overlook other people's experiences. So it's important to step back and try to wear someone's shoes the best we can.

I also work hard to not judge a person's health or fitness ability based on what they look like. Just because someone "looks" healthy or fit, doesn't necessarily mean that they are. Conversely, if someone "looks" unfit, they might surprise you with just how healthy and/or fit they are. Stop making assumptions based on body types or body fat percentage.

I also find it extremely important for persons of all shapes, sizes, fitness levels, ages, experiences, etc. to be VISIBLE in fitness and health marketing. It's essential to reach out to the individuals who are not current active within marketing strategies that speak to them. Are fitness models with 6 pack abs truly speaking to Grandma Jeanne? Or teenagers? Or your neighbor that has never exercised in their life? Or the person who's doctor said they need to incorporate movement to decrease their risks for diseases? My guess is no. People need to see exercisers who look like them. 

Here's where things take a turn. 

More and more companies and fitness professionals and the like are changing their marketing messages and approach towards non-exercisers in a way that provides inclusiveness and reflects a variety of body types. It's quite refreshing.

One problem I've noticed? People seem to believe that by using people who "don't look fit" are glorifying obesity. Ummm. What? Remember when I said that you don't know what someone's health is just by looking at them? Also, shaming and hating on larger body types has resulted in pushing people away from exercise. Who would have thought that saying mean things isn't motivating for people!? People need to hear that wherever they are that it's okay to be who are -- right now. And you don't have to look different if you don't want to. And if you want to incorporate exercise and make changes that I hope you partake in activity from a place of worth and love instead of exercising because due to hating your body. Punishing your body with exercise is not a healthy approach to movement. Embrace movement that you love and makes you feel good. And celebrate marketing that represents the majority and provides a positive message to all persons. We all deserve to take up space, move with joy, and not be ashamed if we don't 'fit a mold'. 

Carry on with confidence. 


Pictures from the Past October 31 2017

I was browsing social media the other day, like I often do, and came across someone who posted a status along the lines of: "When you look at a picture of yourself back when you thought you were fat, but you were actually skinny. And now you wish you were what you thought was fat back then."

this     broke     my     heart

Why are we so damn hard on ourselves?
Why is it that how we look holds weight to our value?
Why is it that society attaches our worthiness to beauty standards?

I was putting together some images last week and I ran into two pictures of myself that were side-by-side in which there was about 30 pounds difference between the photos. I literally looked at the pictures and thought: "huh, interesting. Look how I've changed". I didn't think I was better or more worthy for being skinnier. I didn't think I was bad or less valuable for being heavier in the more current photo. I just made an observation, plain and simple. Over time, I've been realizing that my worth has nothing to do with how much body fat I have or how pretty I am. I also realize that I would have been much harsher on myself just a few years ago. 

But people do think that those photos represent that they were something better, more valuable, more worthy when they look at those old photos. Why is that??

                                      *ahem*
                                           society
                                                 social norms
                                                       fat shaming
                                                             "take up less space" 
                                                                    "skinny means better"
                                                                          
If we're being real here, I would argue that as I've gotten older that I've become wiser, stronger, more empathetic, more athletic, a better listener, etc. regardless of what my dress size is or has been. We grow, we change, we embrace from the inside. The person we are comes from within.

We are good people by being good people, not by simply looking good. 

Let's work on looking deeper to see the value, worth, goodness, and morality in ourselves and others. We offer so much more to the world than what is shown on the outside.
Compliment someone today -- based on who they are as a person. :)

Carry on with confidence. 


Florida: A New Chapter October 19 2017

I can hardly believe it, but here I am!

We arrived in Florida a week ago. It all still feels like vacation. Despite selling just about everything we own and loading up what was left into our two cars. I hope we don't have to make that drive again for a while, whew! 

I have been enjoying whatever this time and space brings me. I'm keeping an open-mind about it all as we wait to get fully settled. I have been using my (way too much) free time to soak up the sun, work on my online business, explore Lehigh/Fort Myers, and cherish this extra time I'm able to spend with my husband, pup, and in-laws. I am feeling a little anxious to get back to one-on-one training and teaching group fitness. It feels like a lot of time has passed already! 

I am taking time to work on my own body positivity / self confidence. I bought new swimwear and I keep thinking how much I'm rocking it. I am LOVING on my tummy lately, which is a delightful surprise because I have often felt this is the area 'I need work on'.  Bring on the high-waist shorts and crop tops! I think it takes time to really dive into such positive feelings sometimes, depending on where we are originally coming from and our current head-space.

Although I have had a lot of extra time, I have spent very little time exercising. I'm purposefully stepping back and putting more focus on the activities that move my body that I super dig. So, I've been swimming and doing some water aerobics everyday for the last week. It's been pleasant and I haven't been creating pressure to feel as if I have to get something crossed off a to do list. 

Carry on with confidence. 


Coming Soon: Kickin' Asphalt! June 08 2017

Howdy! It's been a while. I'm really bad at creating posts on a consistent basis. But that's okay! I'm going to keep trying and update with new information, research, or ramblings when I can (remember). :)

So, what's been going on?

I'm working really hard on getting my online 5k training program for beginners (called Kickin' Asphalt) up and going! I've been wanting to lead a running program for about 4 years now, but I kept back-burning it. Mostly because my availability clashed too much to make for reasonable training schedule. But!!! Now that I've been doing online training, I've been able to take everything online so that you can train with my guidance, but at whatever time is most convenient for you (and me!). I'm so thrilled to finally launch. 

I have two 5k races that I've been eyeing to line up with the training program so that we can complete a race together. How exciting is that?! So keep your eyes peeled for further information. I'll be opening up registration for the first 5k within the next 1.5-2 weeks. Drop me a line (erinannefitzgerald@gmail.com) if you're interested and I'll be sure to contact you right away once I officially launch Kickin' Asphalt. 


You are a personal trainer? May 14 2017

For those who have known me for a decade or two may have some insight about me. Although, I can be a bit of a closed book, so perhaps you really don't know. Regardless, I want to discuss a bit about how I've identified myself for the majority of my life and how that intertwines with my occupation. 

In 2006/2007, I had finally put together that I *clearly* had issues with food. I think a coping mechanism up until this point was just brushing off the fact that food is an answer to many of my problems. I was a chunky kid. I would eat anything and I used food not to provide fuel or nourishment, but often to feed my emotions. By the end of 2007, I was engaging in binge/purge habits and I was struggling with emotional/mental issues of disordered eating, self-love/acceptance, etc. 

In early 2008 was the beginning of "my weight loss journey". I think this experience was one of the hardest things I've ever had to sort through emotionally. It was very challenging for me to deal with people providing unsolicited advice, feedback, comments, criticism, etc. Especially as I started to identify as a 'skinny person' for the first time in my life. I am grateful that this experience led me to working in the fitness industry, but some aspects certainly messed with my head. My words of advice if you know someone going through body composition changes: ask how they are and be super mindful of word choice. Gaining/losing weight can be hard. I wish I had the courage to tell people that hurt my feelings that they way they talked to me was painful and damaging.

In 2009 I enrolled at ISU. I was overly thrilled to know what area I wanted to study and get into an industry to help others. I was definitely still working on understanding who I was (becoming) at the time. In fact, by my 2nd semester at university I sought out a counselor to help me work through some of my issues. This was the best decision ever and I think everyone could benefit from a trained professional to work through any issues they may have. In working with my counselor, it was really hard to come to terms with my eating disorder. I worked really hard on building up my self-esteem. To appreciate my food as a source of nourishment instead of dreading making meals or being obsessive about calorie / macro intake. The hardest part? Admitting to myself and loved ones that I was bulimic. Labels are hard. They're hard to process. And I have an intense fear of being judged. Were my family and friends now judging me based on this new label? These discussions create(d) a lot of anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. 

I still work on these issues. And working in the fitness industry has brought on other labels, too. I almost always dread telling people that I'm a fitness professional / instructor / personal trainer. Why? Because most times than not, I get what I call the 'up and down'. A lot of people, probably many without realizing it, look at me from head to toe to judge if my body represents what a personal trainer should look like. I think we all know what box society wants to put fitness professionals in in terms of physical appearance. But my body doesn't represent my knowledge and experiences in the workforce. I have to remind myself that I am making a positive impact on my client's lives and I am doing a great job even while I feel I'm a work in progress. 

I stepped on the scale for the first time today in ... months ... a year? I don't even know. I weight 180 pounds. At my lowest, I weighed 130. It's super hard to not let these numbers upset me, anger me, get the best of me, define me, etc. But you know what? Regardless of the scale, this body that I have right now has done AMAZING things. Things that I couldn't have done when I weighed less. I know that fitness has many looks. I know that this body of mine today is very fit, healthy, and I should be proud of it! But sometimes I need to remind myself of this. 

I am hoping to just keep moving forward. To listen to my body. To provide fuel when my body/soul needs to be nourished. To enjoy movement because it makes me feel good, strong, fast, powerful, and inspiring. To be mindful of how I eat. To allow myself to indulge and feel okay. To be forgiving when I overindulge. To not become obsessive about food. To continue to love myself when the world feels overwhelming or when my inner voice is saying cruel things. To embrace my feelings and know that I will be okay. To be able to discuss my insecurities without fear of judgment. To understand that people who are judgmental are not allowed to take up space in my mind or heart. 

I am not alone;
you are not alone.
We are more than labels.
We are worthy of love, acceptance, respect, etc. 
And when life feels really hard or overwhelming, it will be okay. <3

I AM a personal trainer. And I'm damned good at what I do, not matter what my body looks like. 


Driving Stick Shift April 14 2017

Last weekend my hubby and I wanted to get out and enjoy the nice weather. We started just driving around town, windows down, enjoying the sunshine! My husband thought what a perfect opportunity for me to (FINALLY) learn how to drive his car -- a manual! So we decide to go to an empty parking lot. Our old high school was the perfect place for the weekend since it's on the edge of town and nothing was going on at the school. 

So, we get to the parking lot and switch seats. And my husband starts giving me the low down on how to operate this machinery. I did pretty good! This was my second attempt to drive a stick shift, but the first time was roughly 12 years ago, so I needed to learn from scratch. I was super nervous and as a visual learner, getting all auditory cues on how to make all the nuts and bolts work felt a little overwhelming. I killed the engine once and my husband said it "wasn't even that bad", so I'm pretty happy with the outcome. We never left the parking lot, so that kept my confidence high! :D

Afterwards, I began thinking about how my learning to drive is comparable to those who are new to the exercise scene. I was a novice exerciser once, too, but I've been in the fitness field for so long that I forget that it feels like to be the new person in a group class or self-conscious in the weight room when surrounded by advanced exercisers. Learning to drive stick was a good reminder about being a beginner in learning movement patterns. Even though my movement patterns were to operate a vehicle, it still translates to movement patterns with the goal of performing exercises correctly and safely. So hats off to those of you who show up time and time again to nail your movements down for the purpose of improving your [insert fitness goal here], even when it feels hard or uncomfortable or whatever obstacles you're facing. Keep driving forward, you got this! 


ED: my story February 26 2017

***trigger warning: eating disorder content***
 
 
February 26th - March 4th is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Here is my story: 

I was a chubby kid. I was fairly active. I grew up playing a few sports and involved with other movement-based activities. I didn't really think that I had any body-issues at that time. I'm not sure when my body image really started to become an issue for me or a prominent part of my life. Even to this day, negative self-talk and the like creep into my life and stay a while. 

I ceased all forms of structured activity at the start of high school. It was at this point that I made the choice to no longer be involved in organized sports as competition was never really my thing. Additionally, I didn't believe I wanted to sacrifice my time towards practices, travel, and games that was required of being on a team. I would have kicked some soccer ass back in the day --- I do sometimes reflect on what potential I had or what I could have become at 15. But I think I ultimately made the best choice for me then. 

So, I started to gain some weight in high school since I no longer had consistent movement as a part of my life. And trust me, at that age, participating in sports was the only thing that kept me active. It was my love of playing soccer/softball that kept me moving, not the love of movement in itself. Additionally, I've always LOVED food. So, lack of movement & eating A LOT definitely resulted in my body composition making some changes. I had some extra cushion to me. I've never been medically considered obese, but most definitely in the overweight category for the majority of my life. For whatever reason, this didn't bother me during my late teen years. Or perhaps, I just didn't care? Maybe I really did care, but just never let myself believe that? I'm not sure. 

When I hit my 20's however, things started to change. I did care. Around my 21st birthday, I decided I was done with this body. I hated my body. It felt gross and fat and ugly. I poured all this negative energy into efforts to change it. I hit the gym. I decided to let my body tell me when I was hungry and when I was full -- overall, eating less. At the core, these are some decent habits, but I had some ill intentions behind them. When eating, if I became too full or even if I simply felt like I ate too much (even if my stomach told me otherwise and I wasn't experiencing fullness), I had to throw up. I have always hated admitting this myself and hated even more to admit this to others. To acknowledge that there was a problem made it all seem more real and (eventually) you have to deal with real things. Due to the intense loathing and self-hate, I was causing more harm to myself. It's such a cycle. I hate myself. So I would eat to create a sense of relief and fill some sort of void. I would guilt-trip myself about eating. This caused purging. Then I would hate myself because I had purged. It goes on and on. Fortunately (?), I did not partake in purging too frequently. I considered myself a 'dry bulimic" because I wouldn't regularly engage in the typical binge/purge scenario, which let me deny my problems. But the underlying (mental) issues were still there and that didn't make things any better as I didn't want to tackle any of my issues.

Shortly after was the start of my weight loss journey -- a few months after my 21st. In fact, as I began to lose more and more weight, people started asking questions. Because when your experience weight loss, discussion of your body apparently becomes the main topic with practically everyone. Since I'm a terrible liar, I told people my weight loss was done through healthy means. And I started to live that. I would resist binge and purge sessions because I couldn't deal with people hinting at if I had an eating disorder or not. And in my mind, if I'm not actually engaged in bulimic patterns, then I wasn't actually suffering from an eating disorder. At least, this is how I rationalized my problems and was able to deny that I even had a problem. I hated those questions and the feel of people being invasive (and judgmental). And most often, I felt people were only asking about me out of per curiosity and less from a standpoint of concern. 

I feel like these issues don't just go away with time. I feel I have to work on this every day of my life. It's particularly challenging to have an eating disorder because you cannot cut out your addiction. You have to eat. You have to learn to approach eating differently and come to terms with your issues that brought you there. Addiction, anxiety, and depression run in my family. And I'm grateful that my family members who are alcoholics can abstain from drinking and that they have success in their sobriety. I get SUPER frustrated that my addiction cannot be a cold-turkey solution. And it's even MORE frustrating when they discuss that sobriety is the only solution and there are no other paths. And that's the only way to treat (any) addiction. I always feel that's such an insensitive statement for anyone with struggles with addiction in a different way or to anyone who has an eating disorder. The best thing I ever did for myself  and my addiction was to seek out a counselor while I was attending university. When you have resources available, please take advantage of them! I learned so much about myself and how to approach food, my body image, anxiety, etc. I am so grateful that I had the courage to take that step. That was a very hard step to take and comes in second to telling/admitting to my loved ones that I have a problem. I'm still not very transparent about my disordered eating background because I still have intense anxiety regarding judgment from others. There are still many stigmas around mental illness and it can feel a little too overwhelming for me to share my own experiences without fearing people will react negatively to me. Today, I feel like sharing and I'm willing to feel a little uncomfortable for the sake of bringing awareness to this issue and struggle that many people face. Today, I'm taking a challenging step forward to share this part of my life. 

I still struggle. And that's okay. :)

I'm glad to be able to share my experiences with you <3

 


Sunday: Run Day! February 19 2017

I'm not much a blogger, but I've been wanting to change that. And what better time than the present, right?! Here goes . . . 

I enjoy running. To me, running is a challenge -- especially long distances. I find a great reward in being able to accomplish running challenges/obstacles/goals that I set for myself. In the last year or so, I've cranked up my mileage to include the half marathon distance. It's a big deal to me. It takes planning and commitment. Each run builds on the next. It's been a delightful way to challenge myself. In 2016, I completed 3 half marathons. Woohoo! Today, I want to talk about a different sort of challenge that I accomplished. Today I did something. I dared to overcome this obstacle; and I did it!

Back story: Last summer, I set out to accomplish a different sort of running . . . goal? I was inspired by another runner/writer/blogger gal to run in a sports bra. To be a part of what she calls the #SportsBraSquad. Now, I never ended up doing this. Why? I just couldn't get over the fact that there would be people looking at me, judging me, watching my body jiggle as I run, etc, etc. Sure, I'm athletic. Sure, my body can do some amazing things. I've also learned that insecurity happens to people of ALL sizes and I've experienced and continue to work on my own insecurities (body image and otherwise). Over the years, I've learned to appreciate my body. To love what it's capable of. To be proud of it. However, I still manage(d) to draw lines that kept me from doing some things because I feared how other people would view me. 

Today . . . I took a step forward. This wasn't easy. Nope. I put on my running clothes around 11 a.m. or so. I geared up! I'm ready to go! I decided to wear a crop top and running tights. Mind you, the crop top IS active wear. It's meant to be worn while engaging in sweaty, fun activities. I put it on, grabbed my phone and running belt. Suited up. Laces are tied. But wait . . . *looks in the mirror* . . . I do still kinda care what people think. I went back and forth with this notion that my belly shouldn't be seen while I'm exercising. No one wants to see my jiggly, rollin' belly while I'm out on a run. But then I thought: JUST DO IT. Just go for your run and who cares what people think. This inner bickering went on for about an hour. I delayed my run by doing some warm up moves and stretches and returning to my mirror to fully take in what others will see while I get my training run in. But I finally settled on just going. Just run. Be free. Who cares!?

I did it! I put in four miles of asphalt kicking. And you know what? No. one. cared. It's an unusually gorgeous day for the middle of February. The sun is shining and I decided to dress for the weather. I could feel the breeze hitting my arms, legs, face, and stomach. It felt great. And sure, I did feel a bit uneasy and tugged on my shirt here and there. But I also felt empowered. I've been struggling with my half training lately. Today I had a solid groove/pace and everything felt good. 

I think the take-home isn't necessarily wearing a crop top for every run that I embark, but rather what that crop top represents to me. Many of my clients, especially when we initially start to work together, tell me that they feel uncomfortable working out in front of others and I'm grateful that I took an opportunity to experience some empathy. I did something today. And I want to keep doing things to build up that self-confidence and be proud of what my body can do, what it looks like, and not give two poops about any one else's opinion. Here's to warmer weather and working towards that #SportsBraSquad status. Just like running, some things take one step at a time. 


March Newsletter March 21 2014

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My Illinois State University intern put together a newsletter with a few of the latest topics in health and exercise. It's important to understand the connection between your health and how exercise (or lack thereof) can effect you!