Wearing a bathing suit in public: It sends chills down my back. In fact, I gravitate to big-city get-aways so I don’t even have to take my bathing suit out of its drawer. But yesterday, I did it. I put on my big girl pants (or in this case, a bikini), marched into the pool area at Soho House (because big cities have bodies of water, too), and decided I’d have a wonderful day at the pool if it killed me. I’m honestly not sure this could have happened had I not attended the Motivate Summit here in Chicago a few months ago. Let me explain.
During a breakout session at the Summit, a group of fitness pros was talking about how we coach our clients to re-write the script that runs in a loop in their heads. Scripts like, “I look fat” or “I wish I looked like that” or “What will so-and-so think if I do such-and-such?” Coach Stevo, CEO of Habitry who puts on the Motivate Summit, mentioned that his fiancé Kat had a great trick when it came to crappy self-talk like this. She will let herself think the negative thought (instead of just trying to repress it) and then will immediately follow it up by asking, “But what if I didn’t care?”
What if I didn’t care?
Those five words put together into a question: Those could be some of the most powerful in your life. They’ve begun to sink in with me and it’s been a serious game-changer.
“I will feel so gross in my bathing suit and people will totally judge me,” was the script looping around in my head as I weighed the pros and cons about going poolside.
“But what if I didn’t care?” I rebutted. Really, though. I made myself answer that question. If I didn’t care, here’s what might happen:
(SIDE NOTE: Had I not gone to the pool that day, I wouldn't have run into an old friend who I'd gone to high school with in Hong Kong, who also happened to be my freshman roommate at Northwestern, who moved to Italy right after graduation, whom I had not seen since 2002!! WHAT?! All because I jumped off the deep end and wore a bikini!)
So: What if, next time you caught yourself saying something not-nice to yourself, you asked the question, "But what if I didn't care?"...
This post was originally in my newsletter but seemed to speak to so many people that I decided to put it up on the blog! You know, because I want more people to know about my gut-busting bikini battle ;) I hope this might have helped you, too! Feel free to leave a comment if this has ever had a positive impact on YOU! (And if you'd like to receive my weekly newsletter, you can totally sign up here!)
Sinclair really didn't like exercising when she started. She just knew that in order to feel better, get to a healthier weight and be the best version of herself, something had to change. She had to show up for herself.
Over the next few months, her outlook on exercise and nutrition seemed to change. She learned how to make good, nourishing dishes for herself (in her dorm, no less) and she wasn't just showing up to train with me. She was also training at the Northwestern gym and in her dorm room. And she was LIKING IT!
I think is it so freaking cool that Sinclair has learned the importance of taking care of herself now so that, when she graduates from college, she'll know how to apply these skills to life outside of school.
Oh, and by the way: Sinclair lost an impressive 60 pounds over the course of about a year. How? By showing up for herself, that's how.
What were your initial goals when you started training?
Initially, training had a lot to do with understanding that I was at a pretty critical point in my health - that if I didn't start listening and taking care of my body, mind, and spirit as one cohesive system, I might not ever be able to. Training at first was just about getting back into my body, feeling like there was power and strength inside of me that I deserved to access and grow from.
Have your goals changed as you've gotten to know more about strength training?
For me, the underlying goal is always rooted in self care. It's very cool to be able to measure my success by other concrete means (deadlifting my body weight was a super exciting one) but at the end of the day, if I didn't walk into the gym with the intention to honor my body and my abilities, I don't think if I would be able to maintain these awesome habits. Sometimes, just feeling the sweat on my neck and the callouses on my hands is enough to remind me that taking care of myself matters.
What have you learned since you started? Anything surprising?
Honestly, that I really love getting stronger! Getting back to a healthy weight was a much less daunting goal for me when the focus was on gaining strength. Like many young women, I had been taught to equate the word "loss" with health, assuming that the smaller you are, the more worth you have. My relationship with my body became so much healthier when I allowed decided to focus on gaining instead of losing.
What do you enjoy most about training?
It keeps me accountable. As a student, it can be pretty hard to prioritize exercise during stressful weeks so I really appreciate knowing that Izzy is going to honor how I'm feeling but then not let me settle. I'm always better for it. Plus, Izzy always finds way to remind me how much joy there is in the work that we do, even on days when it feels like I should be hibernating.
What will you be working on for the rest of 2016?
Having become vegan a few months ago, I'm very excited to commit to meal prep once the school year starts so that I am fueling myself the best that I can during long days. I'm also really hoping that by the end of 2016 I will be close to being able to do an unassisted pull up and I'd love to eventually deadlift the weight I was when I was at my heaviest.
How would you describe your philosophy on working out and nutrition now?
It's all connected. The moment I decide to pay attention to my physical needs, my nutritional, emotional, and spiritual needs become so much important.
What advice would you have for your past self on your first day of training?
Don't be afraid to take up space. Asking for help is a sign of strength.