Priorities

10516386_10204508163890531_972834558_o

June 28, 2014- I used to hate this photo. All I would see was the negative things I felt about my body. I was recovering from an eating disorder, had gained weight, and felt extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. My legs weren’t shaped how I wanted them to be. My arms were forever “sausages,” and who looks good in neon yellow?! Plus, I tried to dye my hair a different color and ended up with hot roots. To top it off, leaving that company was not a smooth process, and it used to bother me that they responded how they did when I chose to move on.  All I saw was everything I didn’t like about myself and things that bothered me. Sad huh?

Now, do you see that sunshine of a human in the center of the photo next to me in the back? That’s Jany Bacallao, the epitome of a good human. We recently lost him due to a hiking accident, and I honestly don’t know how the world makes sense when things like that can happen. He was amazing, kind, funny, a great friend, and a fantastic man that will always be in my heart. Jany left a positive impact on every person he interacted with. He helped everyone coming into the gym feel welcome and important. He’d listen intently like they were the only person that mattered, relate to what they were saying and put them at ease in uncomfortable conversations, especially for first time gym goers. I took the fact he was in this photo for granted because I was worried about stupid things that didn’t matter.

You know what I see when I look at this photo now? My first summer in Seattle. My first Cap Hill Pride where the neighborhood united more than any other time during the year. My friend Jany who always had time for everyone, who took me to Julia’s on Broadway and showed me what Cap Hill was all about, and who I got to talk to about the cute new guy at work (who is now husband, Adrian.) I see Greg ownin’ it at Pride giving out hugs to everyone. I see Chris with his freshly shaved head because he wanted to dress up like the Gold’s Gym logo. But mostly, I see Jany’s smile and am reminded of how much fun we were having when this was taken.

We all go through phases in life where we think we have our priorities figured out. We all go through phases of insecurity and worrying about vain things that our happiness shouldn’t depend on. What I hope we also do, is keep moving forward. Make progress in life and don’t forget to reevaluate your priorities as well. That way you can look back on a photo that used to make you cringe because of ‘how bad you looked,’ but now all you remember is the good parts about what that day represented.

I feel very proud that I have grown and restructured what matters to me in life along with progressing other aspects of life (relationships, business, dog mom-hood, etc.) This was due, in part, to the pandemic and using the time off work to work on things I never prioritized before. Things like my confidence and self-image, two  things that I work on with clients all the time, but hadn’t checked in with myself in a while. I don’t mean physical appearance self image, but I mean how I view myself, which is now: strong, kind, confident, resilient, and happy. I am happy and proud that I have reached a point that I am able to enjoy memories like this, rather than miss out on them due to stupid insecurities. I love this photo now because I get to revisit my friend and the fun that we all had together that weekend.

When was the last time you checked in with yourself to see what is important to you?

It’s okay to admit it has been a while, but you can always adapt and adjust whatever you need to. Nothing is forever, and instead of seeing that as a negative, let it be an inspiration to start living the life you want now.

Do you want to look back on years of self-torment, or would you like to look back on years of wonderful connections and good times with great people? I choose to be positive and happy now, instead of thinking “I’ll be happy when ­__________.”

If you need help on how to make adjustments, or need someone to talk it out with, send me a message or email shea@ownfitnesspnw.com with the subject line “Priorities.”

Rest in Peace, Sweet Jany. You made the world a better place and left a lasting impact on everyone you met. I promise to continue spreading sunshine!

Stay strong, Peeps!

-Shea

IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT SOMEONE HAS TO SAY, YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER HOW YOU HANDLE IT, AND THAT’S IT.

“You can’t have a rational conversation with an irrational person.”- Gary Leonard, Mr. America 1980, husband, Pops, and my dad.

We all have more time to be online nowadays, so this seems like the perfect time for this topic.

UNFOLLOW THEM- Shea says, “Look at you, being mature and whatnot.” If this person doesn’t affect you, and isn’t worth getting annoyed over, so the easiest thing is to remove their influence from your life. I know this isn’t an option all the time, but even minimizing the amount of interactions is helpful. Trust me, cutting down on seeing negativity is going to allow you to make more thoughtful decisions, and be happier the whole time you think about them. If you’re worried you may be wrong, research it or seek out those whose opinions you value.

POLITELY DISAGREE AND STATE WHY, CALMLY- Shea says, “Good luck, and break a leg.” You’ve thought about it, you still want to say something, or maybe you can’t avoid them. Maybe this person doesn’t know any different, or maybe you aren’t the audience they were looking for, but you can be neutral and calmly ask questions. Hopefully they are willing to discuss like a human. If they get defensive or take it personally, reevaluate how much effort you’re willing to put in here. Will they ever be able to have a conversation? No? Maybe try talking to a wall instead; at least the wall doesn’t say stupid things back. Or a more practical approach is to have a “b*tch book.” I do! Anything that annoys me, but isn’t worth doing anything about, goes in there. I write it all down, why I disagree, why I didn’t say anything, and honestly, it’s enough.

GET ANGRY AND PARTAKE IN THE “CALL OUT CULTURE” THAT DIVIDES PEOPLE- Shea says, “Don’t be this person. If you’ve tried other options, do what you got to do I suppose. In that case, buckle up cupcake, the internet is rough, and everything is there forever.” What good will come of this? You’ve put someone on the defense, are you prepared to deal with a conversation that will go nowhere? I’m all for sharing opinions, disagreements, and learning from each other. Even if we don’t end with the same opinion, we now understand more about this person and maybe ourselves. Calling people out just because you have anonymity online is not awesome in my opinion, and if you don’t like my opinion, I am happy to discuss this calmly. If you insult me, or initiate any sort of engagement negatively, I’ll kill the conversation with kindness, or at worst, just kill it, and move on. My day will be fine, will yours? This is one thing that I have a really hard time dealing with, and I’m working on it, but I strongly disagree with this as a first or second option in most scenarios.  

PUT OTHERS DOWN TO FURTHER YOUR OWN POINT/OPINION- Shea says, “*facepalm & deep sigh* No! *flicks nose of person doing this* If you feel that you must go negative or insult someone to get ahead, you’re either a politician, or someone I don’t need in my life. My brain does this his pitched ‘boooooooooooooo’ sound as soon as someone does this. It’s not that I can’t sink to their level, it’s that I choose not to.” This is not really an option or shouldn’t be in my opinion. If you feel that you must put down others to further your opinion, that probably means that you don’t fully understand your own opinion to defend it or properly explain it. Just because you don’t agree with someone (whether they’re wrong or not,) does not give you the right to put them down or insult them. Have you thought about that fact that this is a human, and we are all flawed? Have you forgotten that you have been wrong before, and didn’t know until someone politely spoke with you? Or maybe some have done this to you, and now you’re just defensive of any inquiry, do you like that feeling?! Treat others how you want to be treated.

One of the first things we learn in life is that you don’t get your way when you throw a fit, (or at least that was one of thing first things I learned,) and it seems that some people forget that. Hopefully, we’ve also learned to be kind. If not, you’re an adult, you now have control over your life and can take action to change things, so pull it together. (It can be hard, you may need help, but why stay in a vicious cycle of unhappiness?)

Since so many of us have multiple sources of media input/output, we have the opportunity to interact with at least hundreds, if not thousands of people within minutes. You’re reading “Exhibit A.” 😉 I had a thought after seeing so many people just cutting each other down, I chose to write about it, and now you’re reading it. That is effing cool, right? But what if I specifically targeted someone, or spewed negativity under the guise of standing up for the ‘little guy?’ What if I stated my opinions as facts, and cut down all who don’t agree with me? You wouldn’t be here (hopefully,) and it would spread negativity like wildfire, instead of making progress by starting a conversation and asking questions.

If you have a conversation, both parties have the opportunity to learn. If you start by insulting someone, do you think that they’ll ever agree with you, even if you have scientific facts to back it up? Probably not. Or, they may come to that conclusion eventually, but due to how you delivered the information, you hindered their progress. Weird how one little snippy comment can make such a dent in someone’s life, huh?

In the gym, when you have an issue, you go back to the basics. The “back to basics” principle is helpful no matter what area you’re having issues in. The definition of a human being is a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.(Source: Oxford English Dictionary.) Our basics are advanced. ACT. LIKE. IT. Stand up straight, use your words, and continue to grow your brains!

Do you want to be a negative part of someone’s day one time? Or do you want to help build them up, so they have more positivity in their life going forward? We all have power and resources to influence others, and that can be great, or it can be detrimental. Choose to be great. Build each other up. Ask questions. Seek out knowledge. Throughout all of that, be kind. You will help make the world better one interaction at a time.

Do you have another way to handle situations like this that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment or send me a message: shea@ownfitnesspnw.com!

Balance in Chaos

I feel like this topic always applies, but especially during our current situation. Collectively, we are going through something that has never happened in our lifetimes, and who really knows how to handle it?

It’s stressful. We are constantly being bombarded with the fear mongering television or newspaper articles. All of them providing coverage almost exclusively about the ‘doom’ in the world with big, red, headlines, and a tiny spikey photo. Constant posts on social media that are “facts that so and so heard from their cousin’s, ex-boyfriend’s, third grade classmate’s, sister.” We hear stories about how people seem to be so selfish, they are literally buying up entire quantities of items so they can either sell them for more (really? THIS is your opportunity?) or just had ‘fomo’ when they saw someone else’s cart was full of one thing, so they needed it too. (Side note: HOW much are you going to the bathroom? If you need multiple warehouse sized packages of toilet paper, you either have 12 people at home, you’re selfish and entitled, or maybe talk to a doctor about that if you NEED that much.)

Most of the ranty bits aside, we also have the opportunity to see several positives during this time. Some people are choosing to be more kind, thoughtful, and caring, individuals that are helping when and where they can. Some people are using this as an opportunity to improve a skill, learn something new, or just taking a moment for themselves; regardless which one you are doing, you are right. Do what you need to right now and check in with yourself often. Personally, one of my favorite positive things in this chaos, is that some people are using this time to find creative ways to perform things that were in their routine formerly known as “normal.” Adaptation, progression, and stimulation are all key things we need as humans.

 I am so PROUD of my people and selfishly, this makes me feel like I have accomplished something big. I have always strived to inspire my clients to seek out knowledge, educate them to the best of my abilities, and to improve my own education so I continue to be a resource for them. My goal is to teach them what they’re doing and why, instead of just putting them through the motions because ‘it’s hard.’ I am so proud to brag about my clients. When the gyms were ordered to close, I had a moment where I was bummed and nervous, for my clients, myself, and for the entire industry, honestly.  After that, I started thinking about how to adapt to the situation and what I could do to help. I could adjust my client’s programs to be done with equipment they have at home (or items that could be equipment) to start, and then plan for my business going forward.

One thing that has been the biggest positive in my world right now is my network of clients. They are amazing, and I don’t care how many times I have said it! They. Are. Amazing! It makes me so happy to hear that they are trying to keep movement and activity in their lives, because they WANT to, not because they feel like they MUST. They understand that it’s more than a ‘fitness’ routine, but an all-encompassing ‘health and wellness’ routine. They like the mental stimulation and change of scenery while working at home. Normal household items are now being adapted as weights, and they’re progressing their knowledge of different exercise modalities, and adding them into their routine. Some see this as an opportunity to focus on areas of mobility that need improving, mind-body connection, and breathing techniques. Some are taking this time off from working out to deal with what’s going on in their own way, for which I am equally proud.

I have such a fun mix of clients that includes everyone, all ages, various professions, but we all have one thing in common: exercise is important to us, and we understand balance. It’s okay that they don’t exercise the same days they had in the past. It’s okay if they want to take a week or two off. It’s okay to be worried about things and use exercise to process OR escape for a moment. It’s their choice to do whatever they want in their day, and whatever is best for them.

One thing that I would ask us all to do, is to be kind and compassionate. Don’t put others down to feel better about your choices and how you’re managing your own life right now. Try not to judge how other people process things and handle this time in our lives. Some people want to stay busy, learn five languages, knit a huge blanket, workout with homemade equipment and try to maintain their normal routine. Some people want to lay in a pillow fort, binge watching shows, baking endlessly to supply their tv time with treats, and don’t want to do anything. If it’s not your life, worry about yourself. We all need more positivity in our lives, now more than ever, so don’t add to the doom.

If you want to share positive things in your life (pet photos, something you saw on your walk, a happy link you have, etc..,) something that you have learned, or a great book to read/show to watch, please feel free to reach out to shea@ownfitnesspnw.com. You may also check out my YouTube Channel (O.W.N. Fitness) for some short instructional videos on home workouts. OH, and drink some water! Stay home, stay healthy, and stay strong!

FIND YOUR PEOPLE!

This applies to life in general in my opinion, not just the gym. Sometimes we can get caught up with people that we think we should like. We’re drawn to something about them, and it might be good or it might be bad. In the past, I was constantly worried about “looking like a dude” if I had muscle. How did that thought get in my head? I had some of the wrong people in my life.

Full disclosure, when I started doing strength training, it was purely for vanity purposes. I wanted to “look good” and have people think that I was attractive or whatever “looking good” entailed. So, when people I was close with started to tell me that I should stop working out because I was starting to look like a man, it really hurt my feelings, and only made me workout more and eat less. What they could have done instead was mentioned that they cared about my health and wanted me to be healthy and happy, OR just not commented on my body that I was so clearly uncomfortable in.  

The cool thing is, I have no hard feelings towards those people. I now see that they were just very unhappy with themselves, and were threatened that I was trying to make myself “better,” while they were perfectly okay with staying unhappy. I didn’t realize at the time those weren’t my people; even though I was wearing dresses, low cut shirts, 6” heels, a full face of makeup, and pretty much anything screaming for attention, I just thought I had to be uncomfortable and eventually I would get used to it. Now that I have amazing individuals in my life, I am wearing what I like and what I am comfortable in, which is workout clothes and Vans/Chucks, or if we’re going somewhere that that is not acceptable or I am feeling “fancy,” it’s jeans, a shirt or tank, and nicer Vans/Chucks.

Now that I have found who I am, I can confidently build relationships with the people that I chose to have in my life. The gym has been a key part to this process. If I hadn’t started lifting, I would never have left that toxic environment. I would never have moved to a new city I had never been to, never got a job at a gym, never made great friends (including my now husband,) built confidence in myself- mind and body, and I would not have the wonderful network of positivity in my life. Now I have people who think it’s cool that I like to pick up heavy stuff, and understand that I do it for fun (because they do too!) Now I have people who say that I am “strong” instead of commenting on the size of ANYTHING on my body (unless it’s in a good way #hamstringgoals.)

If you are starting to work on your health and fitness, and you have people making that seem like a negative thing, take some time to think about if they are worth having in your life. If so, call them out on it! Tell them how important your health is to you, and why what they are saying makes you feel negative. I say “health and fitness” because my journey did not start out as healthy at all. Your “people” will support you, ask questions and check in, and maybe even go to the gym with you. They will snap you out of “a funk” when you start to say negative things about your body, strength, confidence, ect. (shout out to my husband, Adrian, for working on this with me for years! It’s our anniversary and the photo is from our wedding!) Your people should add positivity to your life and care about you, and in return you will add positivity to their lives. You get to a point where you keep bringing each other up to the next level and growing as individuals and together. IT IS SO COOL!

If you’re not sure who your people are yet, work towards your “why,” and it will just happen. (psst-> https://ownfitnesspnw.com/2019/07/31/why-why-why/ ) Find your people that make you want to O.W.N. the day, the week, the year! Find your people that see you O.W.N. your life, and get inspired to do the same!

P.S. If you’re reading this, I consider you some of my people!

Why? WHY?! WHY!

Find your “why” to get to the what! So deep and moody huh? Seriously though.

Why do you want to go to the gym? To lose weight? Why? To get jacked? Why? Because you know you’re supposed to? Why? A lot of times, people have a goal, but don’t really dig into why that is their goal. If someone told you that you should eat only cornflakes, would you just blindly follow them? If so, you’d probably be a really easy client to have, but you wouldn’t get the results that you COULD if you knew the why behind that. *I am NOT saying to do that… with any food.*

The why behind your actions will help you truly connect to the process, help with accountability, and make it more realistic because it’s something only you can decide and it’s what YOU want.

The goal of “weight loss” is a perfect example:

  • We still need the why behind each goal. Do you want to lose weight because you “should” so you feel healthier? What is healthy to you? Being able to do the activities you want to do?
  • Do you want to “look” a certain way? Why do you want to look that way? Are you wanting to look like YOUR version of that, or an exact copy. Spoiler: One of those thoughts can cause some serious issues with food and fitness relationships.  
  • What about your health specifically do you think would improve with weighing less? Heart rate so you don’t feel winded as often? Cool, let’s focus on building your cardiovascular capacity as our main goal and let the weight not be our focus.
  • Is it hard to get up and down because you don’t have the strength and balance to do so? Cool, let’s work on strength and balance first and see how you feel.

If you go in with the only goal of “weight loss” or a vague idea, you will have a huge range of emotions. Mostly frustration and disappointment because the scale will never be a true statement of progress. It measures your weight, not health. The mirror is slightly more dependable, but not when you compare yourself to others, only your past self.

I workout because I enjoy being strong. I workout because it’s stress relief and helps keep me sane. I workout because being strong makes me happy and feel confident. I love the feeling of a challenge, and I am constantly adapting and accomplishing mini goals (and valuing the little wins for how important they are.) The sense of joy I get from working out is so powerful, I chose to make it my career. It saved my life, and I feel that I can influence someone to help make their lives more positive through being active. That is my why.

What is your why?! Reach out on IG: @ownfitnesspnw or FB: facebook.com/ownfitnesspnw and let me know!

LISTEN to your body!

Most people think that the hardest part about reaching your fitness goals is making it to the gym. For some that may be true, but personally, I have a hard time listening to my body when I should NOT go to the gym. I love working out; it’s a great escape for my brain from everything else I have going on, and as silly as it sounds, it’s my “me time.” I try not to think about work, the dogs, what’s for dinner, the dishes that are in the sink, how dirty my car is, nothing. I feel great and can manage my thoughts better afterwards. The hard part for me is to remember more isn’t always better, and although I know this, I still have a hard time putting it into practice.

I recently went to visit my family for the Fourth of July. They live in a small town and my dad organizes the fireworks show there. That means that we help get the fireworks moved, built, wired, taken down, and moved back again. Now add that to my normal lifting schedule, sleeping on a different mattress, and bookend it with 6 hour drives. As I write this out, it would only make sense to take a day or two off, or maybe have a light week. Guess what I did the day I got back? Deadlifts… or I tried. They felt awful, I was tired, and the weight was super heavy. I left feeling annoyed and like I should have stayed home. Luckily, I stopped before I hurt myself,  but I should have let my body recover more, and gone back when I was ready and crushed it.

I could have listened to my body saying that it was tired when it was more challenging than normal to get up off of the ground after playing with the dogs. I could have listened when I felt my whole body giving on lazy vibes taking forever to get ready. I could have listened when I was more focused on the annoying people at the gym than on my own warm up. I could have, but I didn’t, even though I know better. I am not worried anymore that I will lose results if I don’t go, and I know that recovery is immensely important, and yet I still made this mistake. But, instead of going back again today to make up for my poor workout- I took a rest day!

              Instead of pushing my body even harder when it is so clearly telling me to rest, I chose to do some light mobility work, organize a bunch of files I have been neglecting, work on my business and write to all of you wonderful peeps. I am sharing my story because we all need reminders, even if this is just to myself. I need to make time for my body to recover. I need to make time for my brain to recover and find other ways to manage my stress. You need to listen to your body when it comes to a workout. It is okay to take rest days. It is okay to need time away from the gym. You will not “fall off the wagon” for missing one day, and you will be better prepared for your next workout when you allow proper recovery.

              Our bodies are amazing and we should treat them as such! What do you guys do to help keep balance with the gym?

Positive > Negative

It’s very easy to have a negative mindset, sometimes without even realizing it. If we are constantly telling ourselves these small, negative statements, eventually it adds up. ‘Oh, my left leg is my weaker leg because it’s injured from high school.’ (*A statement I have actually said/thought for years.) Instead of saying that your left leg isn’t good enough and staying attached to an injury that happened ten years ago, try saying “non- dominant” instead of weak. You WERE injured, but you’re not now. Your brain controls your body, right? If you’re always telling your brain that “I’m injured,” your body will act as if it is. If you tell yourself that it’s getting stronger, you will start to notice new things that you can do.

I hear people all the time say that they just want to “tone” but they don’t want to get “too big.” My first instinct for a long time was to roll my eyes… and then I remember that I definitely have said those statements before. Now I know how to dig a little deeper with the client and say “tone means muscle tone, so we can help build some muscle so they show more.” Or “how big is too big? Professional bodybuilders?” And I can explain that it will never accidentally happen, and it’s actually really hard to get “big.”

Things to think about when you talk about the gym:

Muscle > Bulky.

Non dominant > Weak.

I get to workout > I have to workout.

Progress > Failure.

I firmly believe that the effort you put in mentally will determine if you are successful or not. As you work on these positive thoughts, don’t get discouraged if you have a hard time changing. You may not be good at them YET, but try to keep working on it, and the positivity will just feed off itself. Eventually, you may even be “annoyingly positive” like I claim to be! (Trust me, it’s great!!)

I’d love to hear more examples of how you have used the power of positivity to help accomplish your goals!

Vanity

The gym has had and always will have the vanity aspect. I am not saying that it’s wrong for wanting to look a certain way, I am only bringing light to how it can cause harm if you don’t have the right “why” behind it.

I used to workout only because I wanted to look a certain way- think of all the Instagram models and celebrity trainers six packs, zero fat, and somehow always smiling while they eat salads. I used to be a slave to the mirror and was never nice to myself. I always wanted to “become fit” instead of accepting that I already was my own version, I just needed some strength and muscle to be healthy. I would work out for two to three hours a day, plus an hour of cardio, obsessively meal prep, and guess what? I still wasn’t happy with how I looked, and I was not healthy at all! I would get sick often, I ended up having multiple severe injuries from activities outside of the gym, and my digestion was unable to function properly. My hormones got out of whack, my brain was in a constant state of fog (except for the belittling thoughts I used to tell myself all hours of the day,) but I needed to look that way. And why?! So other people might notice I have abs? How? I would never wear anything to show that, and don’t really like attention in general. Since I am stubborn, it took years of all of the red flags and major events to finally sink in, and unfortunately it took me years to fix everything I had done to my body, even though my brain was ready to be better. I am no longer willing to sacrifice my health or life just so I have no fat on my arms and stomach (fun fact: spot reduction isn’t a thing.) I am no longer willing to alienate relationships by obsessing over how I look. I like how I look- strong, happy, and healthy.

Life has too much potential to worry about what others think of your body. You have cellulite? I guarantee nobody notices or cares. You used to weigh #130 in high school and now you’re closer to #180, most people won’t know or care how much you weigh. The people that add value to your life will not care about appearance, but will care about you and keeping you around as long as possible. They will care that you can go out to eat with them, or go on kayaking adventures sometimes! Why miss out on things you enjoy because you fear what others think of your physical appearance? I am definitely guilty of this, even now. There are certain clothes in my closet that I second guess wearing because I don’t have a “6 pack,” and all trainers should, right? No. Some do, some don’t, and that’s great for them either way.

Be as vain as you want, but try to have balance. I work my shoulders often because I want them bigger, but I am not willing to sacrifice neck pain or migraines from overworking them. Find your balance, and make sure that it’s what YOU want. Think about why you want to look that way. Is it for you? Is it for someone else? Is it because a magazine said it’s “in” to look a certain way. Next time you start to think about someone else’s looks, good or bad, first think about why you care? Maybe think about what they want in life, and how their body allows them to do that. We should all just try to be our best selves and live our best lives. Let’s support others in doing so as well, and sometimes that even if means just keeping your mouth shut. Even compliments on physical appearance can lead to negative thoughts for some. It’s not a fault that we have been conditioned to value physical appearance, but let’s add some compliments and value to function as well. I’ll have a blog soon about different ways to compliment someone if you notice them changing- spoiler- comment on what they can do now instead of how they look. 😉

Thanks for reading, now go out and O.W.N. your day!

-Shea

What Body Positive means to me

Sometimes I hesitate to post things in fear that they will be misconstrued. Pretty much anything can offend someone now, and that’s just the time we live in. We also live in a time where people like me have a platform to explain and possibly educate others on certain topics; or at least spark some thoughts and provide a different perspective; or maybe even validate what someone has been feeling already.

I am a “body positive” advocate and that is how I train my clients, women AND men. When that term first started coming out, it made me gag a little. It drove me nuts that people were “perpetuating obesity” as a healthy way of life. But then I thought about what it meant to me, and maybe that’s what some others thought as well. Maybe we didn’t have to let it get hijacked by those who wanted excuses to not put in effort to take care of their body.

I don’t believe there is a certain “look” of health. We set goals based off of what my clients want to do in life. I don’t think that bodyweight is the determining factor of someone’s overall health. I also believe that healthy individuals value their amazing bodies, and want to maintain or improve them so they can be the best version of themselves.

To me, it does not mean that you are morbidly obese with Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but that you are healthy and should “rock it.” It is not my place to tell you what you need to do, but in my opinion if you are body positive, that means you appreciate your body. If you appreciate your body, you will take care of it the best you possibly can. That means practicing some sort of exercise in our sedentary lives. (I’m a huge fan of weight lifting for everyone, literally everyone, and that doesn’t mean competitive bodybuilding or powerlifting, but we’ll touch on that another time.) That means thinking about the things you put in and on your body. That means actually being proactive about ensuring your body stays healthy, not just saying “eff it, this is how I am and you have to like it and say that I am attractive, health risks and all!”

To me, body positive means valuing the things your body is capable of, not comparing it to *insert anybody who isn’t you.* It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, but it matters that you overcame your fear of the gym, and now are doing deadlifts! It doesn’t matter if you have a size 27 inch waist, but it matters that you have built the strength you need to take the kayaking trip you have been planning for years! It doesn’t matter if you are “heavier” than some chart says you should be, but it matters that you put in the effort to make smart decisions when it comes to what foods and activities your body needs.

Look at the amazing things that you are able to do because of your body. Walking, running, standing up, carrying groceries, going on hikes, playing sports, etc. Body positive means feeding the machine that gets you through life, both literally and metaphorically. Be kind to yourself. If you are nervous that someone is going to notice something on your body you don’t like, ask yourself: “Why would I care what they think?” “Why would I give that other person any power over how I view myself?” This is your O.W.N. journey, and you control the outcome.

If you have thoughts or would like to share what body positive means to you, please send it via Facebook or email: shealeonardpt@gmail.com! Let’s have people hear your story too!

Gym Dread

Sometimes we allow others to influence our feelings. This can happen anywhere in life; while getting groceries, while shopping for clothes, going to the gym, anywhere. That one person who is in a permanent state of “bad mood.” It can turn you off to the whole idea of the place you encountered them at, and make you dread going there.

I grew up playing sports, but weight lifting and the gym setting was sort of intimidating to me. I assumed that everyone was going to be watching everything I did and criticizing it. All of those people who knew what they were doing would see me, and instantly know I was new and doing stuff wrong. One example: I used to do squats without squeezing my glutes because I was worried people would see me clenching my butt. No joke, I intentionally did a movement wrong in fear that someone would see me do it right. What if they were mean to me because I am new and not as strong as them? Not a thing. Years later, I now realize how silly and unrealistic my fears were. Who cares what others think of me in the gym?! I wasn’t doing it for them, but I still built up dread in my mind that they felt I didn’t belong there.

Now I know that most people there are focusing on what THEY are doing, rather than others around them. I started out by being intimidated by others, and now I may even be perceived as intimidating (until you meet me and realize I am super nice and just love working out.) I have muscle, I wear a baseball cap low, have several visible tattoos, and I lift heavy.

Remebering how I started has shaped who I am now. If I notice someone looking at me or we make eye contact, I smile or nod. I am not saying that every time someone looks at you at the gym you need to smile. You do you, but I chose to smile to let them know I am happy they are there. My mission is to open their minds to the idea that maybe we don’t have anything else in common, but we have the gym, and that is pretty awesome.

Be kind to each other, and stick with it, even if it is a little scary at first. Stay focused on why you started and try not to compare yourself to others. If you’re finding yourself dreading the gym, maybe look into a workout buddy or personal trainer (another blog coming soon on finding the good ones.) They can help ease you into the workouts, build confidence, and keep you accountable. Plus, trainers are kind of like your gym bodyguards. They will make sure you get what you need to done. You don’t have to worry about other people intimidating you because they will keep you grounded and focused, instead of building up dread around things that aren’t true.

On the rare occasion someone is rude to you in the gym, that is absolutely their problem and has nothing to do with you. I have found that “killing them with kindness” truly does work, and try to brush it off and know that you belong there as much as anyone!