Our BE YOUtiful campaign encourages everyone everywhere to reclaim the beauty and power within. We are reposting our series of inspirational blog articles with a BE YOUtiful message from previous years, to give you a chance to discover these wonderful messages again! Here's one from Jennifer Langhans, a group fitness instructor full of body positivity.
"If only she could lose 10 pounds, she would be so pretty."
That one statement pretty much sums up my life. I've always been the chunky Italian girl. I was raised in a loving family, but overheard that comment repeatedly. I was never brave enough to try team sports, preferring the comfort and safety of books. Reading was my escape, and I embraced my role as an introverted intellectual. As such, it was acceptable to not be fit. I went on to get my Master's in English, and I lived the life of an academic. Fast forward ten years—plus three boys, multiple moves, career and physical changes—I felt like a different person.
We recently moved to a very active, physically fit community and I decided to join our local YMCA. I stepped into my very first group fitness class, and I was scared. I felt out of place among the blonde "supermodels" with perfectly sculpted muscles, but this curly haired hot mess was drawn to it. I loved it, and I kept coming back.
I was completely uncomfortable, but this class became the highlight of my week. While I was rocking out in the back row, I saw them—the others. The self-conscious, shy, frustrated, and overweight others. Some of them would sneak out and never return. I tried to be helpful and encouraging, but it wasn't enough. This is when I decided to really step outside of my comfort zone.
I decided to get certified. I wanted to teach group fitness classes.
After I recovered from the initial high of my decision, the reality of this leap set in. It was still me, I'm the book smart one. Who would take a class taught by a chunky fitness instructor? "No one," I said to myself.
The most important words are those that we speak to ourselves, so the self-doubt set in. I sat on my first certification for almost a year, held back by a cloud of negative thoughts. And then I remembered why I got it. My goal was to help others like me. People who weren't looking for perfection, but understand the importance of physical fitness.
"If only I could lose weight, I'd make a great fitness instructor."
That pesky statement made its way back into my life, but I made the decision to be me...to be happy, and hope that my positive energy would be contagious.
Our inner stream of consciousness drives us to make all of our decisions. As a society, we are becoming more aware of and embracing all body types. The media is flooded with body positive campaigns, but we need to find a way to get through our own hard heads and believe them. We tend to fall into a "great for her, but it would never work for me" mentality—but we need to quite our inner doubts so we an embrace our true passions.
Truth be told, there's no easy way to overcome our own negative body issues. I'm a work in progress every day, but I move forward. We all need to move forward. Here are three super helpful ways:
Three Ways to Overcome Negative Body Issues
1) Realize that haters are just going to hate. This is out of your control, so just let it go. You will never appeal to everybody, so don't even try. Focus your time and talents on being you—the real you. Not who you think others want you to be.
2) Read personal development books. Yes, they can be fluffy. And life isn't always that perfect, but they can help you grow. Let them feed you ways to help you overcome your weaknesses.
3) Surround yourself with positive energy. Momentum motivate wraps, mugs, Instagram posts, shirts...find places to project positive messages so when you fall into self-doubt, there will be a simple reminder ready to lift you back up again.
I'm still new to the fitness industry. I'm still a thick-but-fit instructor in a skinny fit world, but I've found my happy place. My classes are packed with front row divas and new-to-fitness moms with one thing in common—they are there to better themselves in a positive, encouraging environment that I have worked hard to create. I want all of my students to leave feeling strong, empowered, and ready to chase their dreams regardless of their pants size.
Sometimes I tell my class to look in the mirror. I want them to see themselves lifting the weight, rocking the plank or doing pushups on their toes. I want them to see their strength and take it with them outside the gym. I want you to look in the mirror, too.
Remember, your inner dialogue controls what you believe. Don't let it pick a negative path. Instead, let it provide the grace of body acceptance. Be you, and be happy.
Download your free BE YOUtiful poster and help us show the world what it means to overcome negative body issues. Post and share to help spread this important message!