Updated: Sep 20, 2018
Here's the truth: I ALMOST cancelled/postponed this photo shoot...but I didn't because I felt like I would have been a hypocrite if I did. And let me tell you that shoot, in addition to a special event this past week, was EXACTLY what I needed to get some confidence back!
I've recently adopted the phrase, "Don't fake it until you make it...BELIEVE it, and then BE it." I heard it from one of my favorite authors, Cara Alwill Lleyba (the creator of The Champagne Diet blog, host of the Style Your Mind podcast, and author of bestsellers like Girl Code and Like She Owns the Place) and it was exactly what I needed to hear! She has been a huge inspiration in my life over the past few years, and she ALWAYS seems to hit me with the perfect advice at just the right time. I have been struggling A LOT with my self-image recently, and while I am feeling so much better about the pathway that I'm on in life, I've still been constantly fighting to regain the confidence that I have lost over the past year.
"Fake it until you make it" has just never felt right to me...I've always been someone who likes to be prepared and do the best that I can right away, but when first starting out with something you are bound to stumble along the way. The tone of the phrase always made me cringe a little bit, because it makes you sound like you're lying to those around you until you become competent enough to actually know what you're doing. That just never sat right with me.
So when I heard Cara reframe that same thought into "Believe it, and then be it," I felt as if a switch flipped for me and I was able to shift my own mindset to reflect this idea. I know I'm not going to be perfect right away, I know I'm going to make mistakes and learn from them, and I know that all of those lessons are going to help me become the best coach that I can be! Instead of being "fake" and "acting" like I knew what I was doing, I could believe in myself and my abilities to be what I needed to. I felt like this reframe of a clichè allows for you to authentically remain yourself while you continue to believe that you can and will be what you are working to become.
So a little more backstory on what I've talked about before on my pages, but this will be the first time I've mentioned it on my blog. Struggling with self-esteem and confidence has been an ongoing battle for me since I was a kid, and it wasn't until about three years ago that I reached my peak of loving myself and embracing my body and finally feeling at peace with accepting myself. I was also 25 lbs lighter than I am now and was consistently working out at least 3-5 days per week: my arms were toned, my waist was defined, and my love handles were missing in action. I was finally comfortable in my own skin for a few years...until about a year ago.
A few months into my first year of grad school, I began battling some depression and anxiety and slowly but surely all of my bad habits began to resurface: I was mindlessly eating in front of the TV, I wasn't portioning any of my meals, I was drinking a glass of wine or two every night, and I was barely working out.
I was eating like crap, I felt like crap, and I was treating myself like crap.
I was coping with my stress by reverting to all of my unhealthy habits from the past, because that is what was easiest for me. I didn't want to put in the work to try and make myself feel better, I just wanted to admit defeat and self-sabotage as a way to comfort myself. It was the unhealthiest I had been in YEARS...and I did not like the person I had become.
But then, what began as a hobby quickly turned into a passion. I began teaching cardio kickboxing classes at UCF and it sparked something in me that I had been missing since I had left my childhood dream job. That feeling of happiness and the sense of accomplishment that I got from one class was enough to fuel me for the rest of the week! The energy that I got from inspiring others was addicting, and this past Tuesday it grew in a way that I NEVER imagined.
THIS photo was taken from an event that was hosted on campus, and I was asked to lead the kickboxing portion of this group exercise mash-up. I honestly wasn't sure of what to expect when I arrived at the gym and was waiting for the event to get set up, but something inside of me told me that this was going to be a big moment for me. And I was right.
I can't describe the feeling as I took the stage, but it was electric. As long as one person was impacted by this segment, I would have felt accomplished. Looking out into the crowd of over 100 faces, I knew that this was my moment to inspire as many people as I could.
It was such a rush and I honestly felt like I blacked out because I can't remember what I said and did while I was on stage...! But I do know that I remember people smiling while they were sweating...and that is why I teach these classes.
It's also a reminder for myself to have FUN with my fitness, instead of making it about goal after goal of trying to lose weight and fit into that pair of pants that I can't wear anymore. Now, more than ever, I am inspired to improve my own fitness to continue to improve on the classes that I bring to the patrons! Instead of fighting for breath during my routines, I want to be able to sweat just as hard with them while being able to bring more of my own personal touches to the class.
Going back to why I almost cancelled my photo shoot though...as I mentioned earlier, I wasn't happy with where I was in my fitness journey. I hadn't reached my goal weight, I couldn't see the definition in my arms anymore, and I was lacking the confidence I felt I would need for a photo shoot. But I decided that I would stick with it anyway, and BELIEVE that I could be confident during my shoot by picking outfits that I knew I wouldn't feel self-conscious wearing. It also helped that my photographer was my friend, Alexis, who I felt comfortable with and who helped me relax instead of being nervous about the whole process (thanks for that, girl!)! Doing this photo shoot helped me FEEL more confident, because I was having fun and wasn't worried about "looking fat" or not "showing enough muscle." This was a LIFESTYLE shoot, and it is one of the things that has helped restore my sense of confidence again. It wasn't about looking sexy, or showing off my abs...it was about FEELING confident, FEELING happy, and sharing that with my audience. It helped me remember to focus on the things that I love about myself and my body, and to embrace and love myself as I am: right now.
So I'm sharing these stories as a reminder that you should BELIEVE in yourself and embrace where you are in your journey...even if you are not where you want to be yet, you need to BELIEVE in yourself that you can and will BE it someday: you just need to set your mind to it and be willing to put in the work. And in the meantime, I'll be updating my journey along the way as I continue to "believe it, and then be it" and I hope you will continue to tune in :)