Having had a career as a fitness coach, one of the most important things fitness taught me was how empowering fitness is for us women, especially in how it can help us develop a positive image in how we view our bodies.
See, I never grew up being taught fitness was anything close to something that can easily empower you to develop a positive body image of oneself.
Fitness was considered something you just did. Either for fun when you biked with friends, something your parents signed you up to do for keeping you busy, like swimming on the local swim team, or something you were required to do as part of schools' Physical Education (PE) class (i.e., run relays).
Back then, if you wanted to feel good about your body, it was modeled around to me that you had to go on a diet and restrict yourself from food to become a certain weight to feel good about how you looked.
So, when I grew into a teenager and became body image-focused, I stopped doing any type of fitness activities, and instead, became obsessed with dieting. An obsession that lead me to become anorexic for many years because I thought, this was the only way to create a positive body image for oneself.
In 2009, this all changed. That was the year I left my corporate career to become a full time certified yoga teacher and fitness coach. It was during this time. I learned how empowering it was for us women to have a healthy fitness routine. And how having a healthy fitness routine, was what made the difference for us having positive body images of ourselves.
While working in the fitness industry, I took many fitness education courses, which I had to apply each lesson to myself first before I could coach it to my clients. And the more I learned, the more I transformed into new empowering positive beliefs of women's body images.
During this time, I shifted my old belief of ‘you have to starve yourself to be a certain weight to feel good about yourself’, into doing this is very negative for your well being.
This shift occurred, when I learned during one of my fitness courses that all this anorexic starvation I did was only making me "skinny fat." Meaning, due to the lack of food from starvation, you were actually deteriorating your muscles instead of fat. Leaving you with an unhealthy body full of fat with barely any muscle mass. And even though you look skinny on the outside, you have the potential health risks of obesity. When I found this out, I realized I needed to make proper nutrition a priority in my life.
As I started to eat better, my image of myself also started to shift. As I now fueled my body with good food, I noticed my workout exercise routines got better. Some of the yoga poses, I had once struggled with, became easier to do.
Then, I noticed how I wouldn’t be as moody I used to be, because, if I were in a bad mood, either upset about something or feeling sad, and I would go workout. After my workout, even if it were for 15 minutes, I'd feel way better about things. Then with feeling better about things, I started to think clearer, and became more confident in the decisions I made for myself. Empowering me to pursue bigger career opportunities.
Since, I was feeling better in my mood and thoughts, I stopped obsessing about my body being a certain weight. Instead became more focused on what food made me feel good and what workouts I enjoyed doing.
I would smile each time I saw my arms bicep muscles flex in the mirror when I got dressed or I’d admire how my leg muscle shown as I walked in shorts. It was then, for the first time in my life, I truly became happy about being in my body.
This is how fitness empowered me to develop a positive body image of myself. It taught me that as a woman, a positive body image is one where you feel good from the inside out. Because, when your body feels good from nutritious food and enjoyable fitness exercises, it helps you elevate your mood and gets your thinking confidently.
Even though it's now been many years since I left my career in the fitness industry, to pursue greater personal endeavors, I have to say I wouldn't be where I am today, without developing a healthy fitness routine.
And, I still honor the routine I developed back then. Because I know even a 15-minute walk around the block, during a hectic day working with my business consulting clients, will continue to empower me to feel good about myself.
If you've struggled with developing a positive body image of yourself as a woman, give developing a healthy fitness routine a try. It empowered my life, and how I feel about myself, it might also help you empower a positive body image for yourself too.
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