Growing up in the world of dance and spending half my youth in leotards, tights, and dance costumes, I was conscious from about middle school onward that I wasn’t skinny. I had (and have) broad shoulders, thick thighs, and a round butt. I remember looking in the mirror in dance class, mostly in high school and into college, wishing desperately that I didn’t look like a “football player,” wishing that I could just be skinny like the other girls.
I wondered what it would take to be skinny. How little could I eat? Could I workout more on top of dancing 5-7 days a week? What was it going to take to shrink myself into the image I had in my mind?
These thoughts perpetuated for years. Exercise was always a means to becoming smaller, but I didn’t get smaller. I got muscles, the curves stayed, and I hated it.
Then came yoga in my early twenties. I thought maybe this was the solution. So it was yoga every day for years. But I still didn’t shrink. Thankfully, I never resorted to drastic measures to try to make it happen. I was never physically unhealthy, but I had a lot of disordered thinking going on in my mind.
I was 25 the first time I had a moment of true appreciation, gratitude, and even love for my body. I was getting ready to go to dinner with a significant other. I was standing in the mirror putting on makeup. And he said to me, “You have the most amazing shoulders of any woman I’ve ever seen.” I was stunned.
I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first, as that was the main body part that had me feeling like a football player rather than a yogi or a dancer for so many years. I didn’t accept it at first, but from that point on, I changed how I looked at my body. My lack of perceived smallness and the curves I spent years hating became ok suddenly.
It was about the same time that I found kettlebell training for the first time. I had so much admiration for my instructor. She was so tiny but with muscles! She was so strong and so confident. Inspired by her and this new perception I had of my body, I trained hard and got strong really quickly. With that strength came muscles and an increase in the curves I once tried so desperately to hide. But suddenly I was proud.
If you’re thinking that I’m crazy, all of this happened before the women’s strength movement. Before muscles were desirable, when thin was still in. But I decided to embrace the gift of strength I was given and haven’t looked back since. I embraced my curves and broad shoulders, and I fell in love with strength.
That experience changed the course of my life forever. I knew I wanted to give other women the same gift and go on the journey with them of helping them grow strong, become fit, and love their bodies. I’m beyond grateful for that moment I had nine years ago when one person showed appreciation for one of the things I disliked most about myself because it opened my mind, and that, in turn, changed everything.
If this resonates with you in any way, I’d love to hear about your transformative moment(s) and how you learned to love your body. Please post a comment, and let me know!