The CliffsNotes On My Body

IMG_9293.jpg The other day I had to step on the scale, and if you know me or read my blogs, you're probably surprised that I still even have a scale in my house. I let go of "the number" on the scale a very long time ago, and I stopped letting the scale dictate my mood, meaning that I very RARELY weigh myself. I used the phrase "had to step on the scale" because I was actually inputting my baseline information into a spreadsheet to submit for the Strongest You Coaching Program that I'm participating in through Girls Gone Strong. Along with our weight, we also submitted body measurements and rated our levels of stress, sleep, energy, etc...

Surprisingly, I was pretty happy with the number. Happy in the fact that I endured the holidays eating chocolate and drinking wine and eating movie popcorn and STILL kept my body at the same weight that it was a few months prior. To be 100% honest, my pants fit better today than they did a few months ago. I actually stopped paying attention to the details in the food that I was eating. I stopped letting food control me. The only thing I really allowed myself to focus on was eating to 80% full, while prioritizing proteins and veggies first and still allowing myself indulgences along the way. That's it, folks. Moderation for the win! It seems to be working for ME.

So, back to the Strongest You (SY) Coaching Program that I'm involved in.

Yes, I am a certified personal trainer.

Yes, I've already been through a 60# weight loss transformation.

Yes, I write about fitness and nutrition.

So, why do I need to be coached? Well, coaches need coaches, too! I continuously strive to put myself in places where I am encouraged to grow and learn in the field of fitness and nutrition. I opted to join in on this group to get the very best mindset, nutrition, and fitness coaching tips from the lovely Jen Comas. There's a very diverse group of ladies within this SY Coaching group. We're all very different in our backgrounds and careers and life stories, but we all have one common underlying theme -  we're trying to find the best version of ourselves through mindset, body acceptance, nutritional habits, and fitness plans.

So just when I thought I was doing pretty good with self acceptance and body image and all of that jazz, Jen assigned a mindset challenge for us. The challenge was to watch a video featuring Kathryn Budig - well renowned yogi guru - as she hands out some honest talk about body image and her own experience in social media body shaming. It was, no doubt, life changing for me. Do you have 27 minutes? If so, click HERE to watch the video. It may resonate with you, and it may not. But for the love of all things regarding body image and self acceptance, find some quiet time, plug in some ear buds, and GO WATCH IT! Please. xo

Without giving the whole video away, here were a few of my favorite takeaways -

"I'm a girl that eats healthy, but I'm not afraid of cookies."

"We need to put weight into the words that we share."

"Jealousy will never serve you."

"The way we use our words is like casting a spell - they have power."

"When we step down from a challenge because we let our insecurities get the best of us, we give others permission to do the same." - WOW.

"I love this vessel, this vessel holds my soul."

"I call my body a meat suit."   ---> that might actually be my favorite line. EVER.

I don't want to give the entire video away because I think you owe it to yourself to watch it, but here's what happened at the very, very end. Kathryn challenged individuals to grab a sticky note to write something positive or something showing gratitude to a part of the body that needs some self love, then post the sticky note on that body part and share it with the world. We were encouraged (if we felt comfortable enough) to share this within our SY Coaching group.

At first I had a VERY difficult time trying to decide where to even put the sticky note. Topping out at 240# in high school left me with some battle scars. I am very uncomfortable with my softer belly. I dislike the stretch marks on my NON-giving-birth hips, I've always hated my breasts - they're never the same after a huge weight loss transformation. My feet have their own issues - I'm forced to get a pedicure every three weeks so that my lovely nail lady can take care of an ingrown toe nail problem on my right foot. I have a single hair that grows out of my chin! I am freckly and moley. I have dense muscles and it makes me feel uber "thick."

BUT WAIT.

The stretch marks on my body tell a story about my skin. They are a reminder of where I was, and where I've come in this weight loss transformation.

My feet? I may not have the best looking feet, but those feet allowed me to run for miles and miles in several half marathons and full marathons, and they were a catalyst to my weight loss journey. They've allowed me to see the world and all of its beauty. I should love these feet.

My freckles? They tell the story of my childhood and the years I spent in the sun playing on an old ball field that would eventually allow me to earn a college softball scholarship, another huge catalyst to my weight loss.

The chin hair? WHO EFFING CARES. Pluck it, be gone.

So, the assignment. {sigh}

I posted THIS photo in our group to complete our assignment. I chose to put the sticky note on my hips, and my self love phrase said "I love my hips. They don't lie."

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Posting that to our private group was a scary thing, and it's even MORE scary posting this for all of you guys to see in my online community. It feels less safe, and it feels vulnerable. Some responses that I've articulated in my head include:

"She's too big to be posting a picture like that."

"Needs some abs before posting this."

"That stomach? Gross"

"What stomach?"

"If she were truly overweight, then I would understand the hesitancy."

"She can't even relate to being big anymore."

"She's not lean enough."

"Put your clothes on."

HERE IS WHAT I FINALLY DECIDED. What anyone says about my body is NOT MY BUSINESS. 

MY body, the way it looks, the way it feels, the way it operates, and the things it accomplishes, AND HOW I FEEL ABOUT MY BODY - THAT's my business. 

I opted for my hips and the side profile in the picture for my SY Coaching group because I was terrified to show my belly. That wasn't very authentic, and that wasn't the takeaway from the video. So, here you go.

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I'm authentically doing this to show you that self image issues among individuals do not discriminate. Damaged self image issues come in small framed bodies, big framed bodies, skinny bodies, strong bodies, obese bodies, female bodies, male bodies, and the list goes on - WE are all capable of experiencing a lack of self love which contributes to a negative self image. AND THAT is a scary reality, folks. But we - you - can change that.

I'm not posting the picture to say "hey, look at me, look at me, look at me."

Just.. NO.

I'm posting the picture to say, "My name is Stephanie, and I am guilty of shaming my own body. I did it when I was obese, and I mentally still do it now -even at the best shape in my life. Come with me. JOIN ME, and let's change the conversation together."

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That video? It changed me just a little. I cried a few times (the whole time) watching it. I needed to see it, and my guess is that if you struggle at all with self image, you might need to see it, too.

It was a POWERFUL thing for me. I honestly practice self love at my gym with my clients, and I TRULY abide by it verbally, but mentally I have given myself absolute anguish. No more, though.

Physically, mentally, and spiritually - this vessel is all that I have. It works EXTREMELY hard for me every single day, and I will now return the favor with self love.

These are all of the CliffsNotes that go on my body. They are the story of my skin, and they are the proof that I have lived, loved, and endured.

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My words have power. I will choose words carefully to empower myself.

This was a game changer. Go give your body some love. You owe it to that meat suit! xo

Video link once again - right HERE. Please, PLEASE, please go watch it.

xo

Engage. Empower. Elevate.

#eeetribe

Coach Fowler

 

Sisterhood. Getcha Some.

beach radiance “Better not let me catch your azz!” This is a phrase you might hear me yell to my girlfriends during any given workout sesh. They love it. We’ve learned how to motivate one another to bring out our best efforts during each workout. I love them. THEY make me better. To me, they embody sisterhood. The term sisterhood hasn’t really ever been on my radar. This word was mentioned numerous times during my trip to Venice Beach for the 2015 Radiance Retreat this past March 2015. I discovered the Radiance Retreat while #deepinthecreep one day on Neghar Fonooni’s Instagram account. (If you don’t already follow her, I truly believe you are missing out.) While perusing Neghar’s older photos I came across a picture of her alongside Jill Coleman and Jen Sinkler, and I followed the link under the photo to learn more about this so-called Radiance Retreat.

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Aren't they just lovely? 

Click. I instantly fell in love with what the Radiance Retreat was all about and desperately wanted to attend, but I delayed booking my flight because of too many intimidating (and now laughable) factors. I wasn't yet a certified trainer, nor did I (at the time) have my own blog, my own business, or anything of the sorts. But I had a story. And the story embraced a desire to pursue a career in the fitness industry after a successful body transformation. I needed this trip for confidence. I needed this trip for clarity. Screw it. I’m going. The registration deadline had already passed by the end of January, so I sent a message to the 3 lovelies asking if there were room for just one more attendee. Jen Sinkler e-mailed me back almost immediately. Flight booked. Here. We. Go. Now fast forward to my flight en route to LAX: I LOVE traveling. I also value traveling alone. There’s something so empowering about independently boarding a flight for a solo adventure. In addition to my excitement for the retreat, I was also admittedly terrified beyond belief. I was stepping way outside of my comfort zone, and saying that I felt inadequate among the other attendees is a complete understatement. My balcony view for the weekend was pretty incredible, and the experiences that I encountered throughout the weekend were invaluable to me and my future.

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We had the opportunity to hear Neghar, Jill, and Jen speak about so many different things throughout the entire weekend, but the one thing that resonated with me the most was the power of sisterhood. Fifty (50!) vibrant women from all walks of life and various states and countries all united in a cozy room to cuss, discuss, and share fitness related ideas, advice, goals, and life experiences from one another. From here we meditated on the beach, we set goals within our newly formed accountability groups, and then we sweat it out together through yoga on the beach with Neghar, metabolic effects workouts with Jill, and lifting heavy shiz with Jen. This was happening.

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Sisterhood. To me it means complete, unfiltered support of one another. And that's exactly what the Radiance Retreat gave me. In an environment where I could have felt as if I didn't belong, as if I wasn't as far ahead as others in the game, or as if everybody were out of my league - instead I was pushed to follow my heart and start getting sh*t done. #GSD Why not? I can't even begin to explain to you how empowering this was for me. At some point in your life you have probably been directly involved with a group of females where jealousy was prevalent, and rather than supporting one another, "she" was constantly trying to stay one step in front of "her". Competition at its finest, right? And while I can say that I think competition can be completely badazz, there really is a healthy way to compete with others. But secretly hoping that others fail so that you can get ahead - that's NOT healthy competition. At the Radiance Retreat success was repeatedly celebrated. #sisterhood While working out with my girls at home success is encouraged AND expected from one another. #sisterhood Jen Sinkler saying "Hop on my back!" for a picture. THAT'S sisterhoodI'll celebrate that!

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Best. Picture. Ever.

I already knew that I had an UNMATCHED amount of support through friends, through my family, and through my sweet wife back home in Oklahoma. But I had no idea that I would receive that same amount of encouragement from 50 beautiful women that hardly even knew me. We were all there to better ourselves, but the incredible part to that is that each and every one of us completely invested in one another, and that made for an empowering weekend. Oh. And mimosas. :) But seriously.. Do you have a group of women that cheer for you when you succeed?  Do YOU cheer for them when they succeed? I sure hope so, because everybody deserves it.  Me. You. And all the ladies out there. We are in this thing together. Don't forget that. Engage. Empower. Elevate. #EEE xo Coach Fowler P.S. (You REALLY, really should follow Neghar, Jill, and Jen! They've undoubtedly helped pave my path ahead. And while you're at it, look up the lovely Molly Galbraith, too!

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