WARNING: Explicit language is ahead!
I need to get something off my chest. Something that has been the focus of my life since I was about 25, but was on the horizon since I was young.
My weight / body size. My self love.
I have always been the "big girl" since I can remember. I was always tall, but that is not what we are here to chat about, is it. We are here to talk about body image. We are here to discuss why everyone seems to think they have a say in how I should look, how much I should weigh, what diet I should follow... what I should look like as a Pilates instructor.
I started Ignite Pilates in Gillette, Wyoming nearly five years ago. Since then I have been constantly dieting. Trying to lose the extra pounds. Trying to become what I have been told to believe that a Pilates instructor looks like. You see, somehow I started to think that my self worth and my teaching ability were directly related to how I LOOK.
So I tried, over and over, to lose weight.... Only to gain it back, plus more EVERY time.
All of this has been said to me:
if you wore shorts with a waistband you could tell you were gaining weight
if you lost some weight a guy might notice you
*trainer pokes my side* 5 more pounds and you will be there
all you have to do is watch what you eat
you just need more self control and drive
no one will love you if you’re fat
you’re not fat, you’re just big boned
Blah blah blah!
Well guess what: I am done. I will no longer listen to people who think that they know what I need. That they have all the answers when it comes to MY body. My image.
I want everyone to know that it doesn’t matter what size you are. What matters is that you love yourself.
During summer 2019 a change started in me. I started weekly therapy. I started to focus less on what everyone else thought about me. I started to put myself first, no matter my weight. I have started to spend time with friends and family socially again, dragging myself out of my comfy hobbit hole. I stepped away from the latest diet fad and started to just eat food.
Every day I am trying. And some days are better than the others. I know that it will be a slow process to fully come to terms with my inner issues surrounding food. And the first thing I have done is accept myself, and push the naysayers away. If you don't like how I look, or how fat I am, then you don't need to be part of my life … in any way.
Society. Family. Friends. Clients. Strangers. They all influence us (or we allow them to). So, I’ve stopped allowing myself to allow them to influence me. I am done comparing myself to any BODY.
I know that I am fat; in fact, according to my BMI, I’m actually obese, overweight, large. I KNOW. I see myself daily.
But I love myself.
In fact, these are some of the things that I love about myself: I’m a very giving person. I will try to help anybody who asks for my help. I am smart. I am a great teacher/coach/mentor.
And, guess what: None of those things have anything to do with my size.
All of this self love exploration has also influenced how I run my studio. In the beginning, my goals for my clients was all about helping them lose weight. When I first started, I believed that exercise and dieting was how you got there.
Fuck that. Who wants to think about what/when/where/why/how much food and exercise they do all the time. It is exhausting.
Now, I am guiding my clients at Ignite into a movement practice. I want everyone who comes through Ignite’s door to think more about how to work/play/move better in their daily life. We do not obsess over weight. We ask questions like:
can you get on or off the floor?
can you lift a 5 gallon water jug without planning it out?
can you go on a three mile walk/hike?
can you play with your kids/grandkids/dogs?
can you bend over and put on your shoes?
can you move without hurting?
Movement. This is what I believe is important. Functional movement.
For too many of us, movement isn’t part of our day. Many of us sit all day, whether it be at a desk job or operating heavy machinery, and then go home to sit some more. This is exactly why we HAVE to make time to move. Movement heals!
I don't care what you weigh. I don't care what you can dead-lift. All I care about is that you move, in whatever way YOU want.
So, there you have it. This has been my journey to self love. And I’m putting this blog out there because I want to encourage everyone to stop not living life. Stop hiding. Stop starving yourself for what other people think. Do good. Be good. Be happy. Drink the frigging beer and enjoy it! You only have one life.
Oh, and if you don't think I am skinny enough to teach Pilates, then my studio isn't for you. If you want to be part of an encouraging environment that IS NOT about what you weigh, then come and join the tribe at Ignite.
PS: The women in this photo are all on their own self love journey. And, they bravely put themselves out there to show you that you can love yourself, too. That you can do hard things, too. Be thankful for that. If you are rude, you will be removed.
Thanks to Brooke for her mad photo skills. And to my clients for taking a stand and loving themselves. I’m so glad I’m part of such a supportive tribe.