Excitedly checking out photos from the latest Rebellious photoshoot. I stumble upon this picture. Gorgeous sunrise, soft colors, the waves; it is as if I can hear the ocean. Then there is me, my signature hair bun, a favorite outfit blending with the beautiful background, my new favorite lip color gloss. Then I crack up! Because my eyes fall upon my ‘bass’. Man, it surely does get attention.
The old me would have been kind of horrified. The new me is smiling in gratitude.
…. Then the thought of this blog came upon ….
If you have read my story and how I got into fitness, you know it was because of my growing curves and me being bullied for my ‘big butt’. This butt is what got me into the gym at the tender age of 12. I became a gym regular. It was this butt that got me to fall in love with exercise, what made fitness training a side gig to my real, corporate job and what eventually got me into Pilates and into the entrepreneurial world with Rebellious. So, thank you, butt! J
For most of my life, I believed I had a really big butt. I have done countless squads, lunges, leg springs, you name it. Let’s just say it – I have had a body image thing going on a while.
I vividly remember preparing for running a half marathon on an early, early morning in Athens, GA a few years back. I got my tights on and couldn’t miss to observe the slight waistline overflow. I pinched it with disapproval and a headshake. Then, I have no idea why, the following thoughts came to my head:
“For real?!? You are about to run 13 miles. This healthy body of yours that you just disapproved of will carry you through those miles.”
My eyes caught sight of the bed through the ajar bathroom door. On the bed, blissfully sleeping were my hubby and my little one.
“This body of yours that you just disapproved of gave you the best gift you could have ever dreamed of! Have anything to say about that?!?”
I felt almost ashamed. I have no idea where those thoughts came from but they certainly made a lasting stamp in my consciousness.
Being part of the fitness world also made me be a part of each fad that rolled. I started teaching in 1993 when hi/low (remember Jane Fonda?) was sunsetting. Step aerobics was huge. Then kickboxing. Then spinning. Which a couple of years later was no longer cool and was renamed to cycling (but was pretty much the same thing). Then I taught Zumba but was kind of early in the game. At the time, the founder was traveling the country doing the certifications himself (now I probably sound ancient). Then I taught Body Works or Body Pump or whatever the name was for the same type training. Then yoga became cool and I got into that. Yoga got me into Pilates.
I was the girl with the heart rate monitor. Maintaining right heart rate target? Speed? Calorie burn? I wouldn’t miss a day in the gym. One rest day a week. Religiously. I would do the drench type of workouts. A proper workout was considered 1.5 hours. If I got 10 minutes late to a class, the rest 50 minutes wouldn’t count as part of the workout. I loved each and every minute of it but back then I didn’t see the much bigger picture behind movement.
Another vivid moment. It was a weekday post work. It was a stressful day at the office. I completed my run and was disappointed to find out that I hadn’t kept up my regular speed per minute. I was getting upset. I had a big realization – I was out to destress rather than stress extra. That was the day I ditched the heart rate monitor for daily runs.
Then I discovered Pilates. My first thought – what a joke! Didn’t feel a thing (I was cheating but did not know so then). No loud music? Repeat the same routine each workout? No sweat? Heart rate not up? Panic mode. Waaaaay out of my comfort zone.
In Pilates, you have to patiently work your way to a great workout. You have to slow down, become aware, connect to yourself ….. think discomfort.
Can any of you relate to trying to get into a pair of jeans by having to do a few standing jumps so that the hips will hopefully go through? If you know what I am talking about, you also probably know the trouble you can get in if those jeans are in fact too small – then you can’t get out of the damn thing as you feel your heart rate escalating from the exertion and the sweat brought upon the thought that you may actually have to call for help. I actually once witnessed a friend almost go into a panic attack trying to get out of shape wear – the things we women do! TMI but I refuse to wear shapewear. I feel like a sausage trapped in casting. Would love to hear if you have found non-torturous shapewear.
And here is another true story. I once had to actually explain to a (conservative) female ex-boss of mine the dilemma with my waistline to hips proportions. She suggested my outfits were distracting to my male colleagues. At that time, early 20s, I could assure you my least concern was impressing my colleagues with my behind. I was super driven and determined to kick ass at the job. I had my eyes on the CFO seat! I was 20-something so getting up early in the AM’s wasn’t my forte (still isn’t). I would set up the alarm to max out my time sleeping and be ready in 10-15 minutes to leave the door. I had priorities – be a rockstar at work and crazy Latin dancing into the morning hours. Simple as that. As far as outfits – just be clean and proper (or so I thought), no time for make up on most days.
I literally had to explain that if the pants fit well on the waistline, they are likely to be tight on my behind. If they are wide on the waistline, I am likely to look like a barrel which couldn’t even be a consideration taking into account my Eastern European roots.
Getting into the Pilates world, I was surrounded by ex–dancers who moved with incredible flow and grace and had long, beautiful bodies. I came from the gym environment. What is this thing about moving gracefully? I was used to metal banging and music blasting. My bulky, stiff legs stood out. So did my booty. I can’t even explain to you the emotions I went through the first time there was a Pilates photo shoot, and I had to wear a unitard, a unitard, people! I was probably mid 30s and after I had a baby. That was too much even for the Eastern European in me.
Point being, I had plenty of life evidence that my butt is big, my legs are bulky, my body is stalky, etc., etc., and I worked tirelessly to make them smaller.
Fast forward … lots of personal growth. Lots of clean up. Lots of bullshit stories erased. I am here to victoriously declare I have a beautiful and strong booty, legs and body!
My fitness routine now – I still love to workout. I still love a good sweat. I don’t watch the time, I don’t watch the heart rate, I don’t watch the calories burned. I have one monitor – it is called my body. I tune in and listen what type of workout day it will be, how intense it will be. One day, it’s a walk. Another day, it’s run. One day is an advanced reformer day. Another day is a basic reformer day. One day is stretching. It may be a 15-minute workout or a 2-hour workout. I do block time on my calendar for self care though, in case you wonder.
The beautiful part is – I love movement. However, I move for the physical, mental and emotional healing. I love to connect body, mind and spirit. I love to disconnect from the world.
As for my butt (and the rest of my changing 43-year old body), I embrace its shape and love on it lots more (I am human and do have my moments, of course).
Honest question – do you not always feel better after you move?
If you dread your movement time/ going to the gym, it is probably because you think you have to. What if you go because you want to?
To end this long story, I want to speak to every girl and woman from age 10 to age 100.
“Know that you are beautiful just the way you are.”
“Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top!”
Whether you think your butt/ boobs/ hips/ thighs/ stomach/ nose/ whatever is too big/ small/ flat/ perky/ whatever, embrace it. Our shape was created by mother nature. If you want to enhance what mama gave you, do so by all means. However, don’t be vengeful, be loving. There is nothing wrong with an intense workout or a heart rate monitor, just make sure whatever you are doing feels good. Find a routine that empowers you and recharges you.
And please stop the comparison trap! You don’t need to look (or for that matter act) like anyone else but you, your authentic you! Let your light shine; don’t waste it.
Now perk up those booties and make it a rebellious day!