Thursday, August 1, 2013

Identity to Vulnerability to Incredible, Vibrant Life!

Any time I meet a personal trainer, I know pretty much what they are thinking when I talk to them about health and fitness: "This girl is my dream client." I mean, look at me. I'm obviously female (so many women see it as their life mission to lose weight) and I'm about 230 lbs., I think. When a trainer sees me walk up, they almost salivate, and part of that is because they want to help me. It's like I activate that response in their brain that says, "Save this person from a horrible death of pizza and French fries! You are her only hope!" You know, I can totally get behind that if it comes from the right place in the heart - the place of empathy. After all, they are in business to help people of my size get down to people of their size because, well, most people think that is the key to all great things in life (a train of thought I highly disagree with), but I totally understand that. We all have jobs. (Duh.) The fact is that I don't eat that much pizza or French fries. They can't save me. I can't be their "dream client." They really don't know anything about me at all.

I've been wanting to write this post for a long time. As a disclaimer, this is not about bashing personal trainers. In fact, this is meant to be helpful for trainers, so I hope that if you are in this industry that you read all of it. It just might be a key to unlock your successful business.

I had a trainer for a bit. Her name was Erin, and Erin was always fit. She told me her history of being an athlete, and I thought that was really cool. I always felt a huge disconnect between us because of her athleticism, and it wasn't until just a few months ago that I realized that I am totally an athlete, too! If I had made that connection a few years ago, perhaps I would have stuck with her, but the fact of the matter is that she couldn't do that for me. I had to make that connection on my own, in my time, on my terms, and all of it really comes down to identity.

When I shaved my head, I knew I was in for something huge because I did it so I could start over with myself. I tore myself down, symbolically, through the act of demolishing my hair follicles, only to grow up, get serious, make a ton of changes, and become the woman I've always known inside. This includes a huge list of things, one of them is embracing my gift of singing and the other one is owning my athleticism. How could those things relate to shaving your hair off, you may be thinking? One word: vulnerability. I took off my proverbial mask by exposing my naked head - the part of a woman she rarely, if ever, shows the world, much less herself. It was a public act of vulnerability that I wore for a few months as my hair turned into beautiful, healthy, fresh curly locks that are totally light BROWN! :)

In the same vein of this idea, let's talk about nudity for a hot minute. I love to go to burlesque shows. What I love about burlesque from watching my friends (Shout out to my sexy ladies in Black Widow Burlesque especially!) is that it is so vulnerable and intimate yet exciting and sometimes grotesque or hilarious! It is whatever the performer wants it to be, and at the same time, it is a celebration of the body - male or female. (Boylesque! Whaaat!) Our culture has a very sterile posture toward the human body that I've never fully understood. As an experienced singer, there's something incredibly poignant about being on a stage as a performer in general, bearing everything that you have in your heart and soul to be scrutinized for an immeasurable amount of time, and creatively crafting a way to expose yourself through the art of burlesque to an audience without their give or take is positively breathtaking. I understand it isn't for everyone, but what it comes down to, as I see it, is that moment of being vulnerable for the sake of vulnerability itself and the appreciation of who you are almost in the form that you came to this earth. After all, the main parts are actually covered, and it is a beautiful body that moves and expresses itself! It is fascinating to watch, and I've learned life lessons from my friends who do engage in it.

In light of this idea, my favorite part of Bikram yoga is usually afterwards when I get to strip myself of my yoga costume and hang out in the ladies' room with... a bunch of bare, naked ladies! At first, I was like, "WHOA! BUSH ERRRRYWHERE!" After a few days, it became normal and totally cool to just. be. yourself. All naked. After a beautiful practice. Your body is giving a big Ahhhhh! with other bodies in the same room, free of restricting, smelly, wet, clingy clothes. I have a little extra body here. She has a little extra there. It don't matter! No one cares, really. "Nudity builds unity!" Kadi would always say with a laugh. It's true, though. It does, because it's so vulnerable, and that's where connections are made. Of course, you don't have to be naked to be vulnerable, these are just physical examples, and I encourage you, lovely reader, to explore your own avenues. I believe that when you are super vulnerable, that's where you can really start to get deep and discover your identity, your dreams, your values, and in which direction you really want to grow. This very directly relates to your health and the rest of your life.

In the quiet moments of my meditations and personal development I've been doing over the past year and some change, I've been focusing on the topics of vulnerability and identity: Who am I? What am I here to do? Who do I want to become? What do I enjoy about me? What do I want to improve? When I had sessions with Mark, he helped me with my Conscious Language, speaking my life into existence. So much of who we are is what we say to ourselves, and that can come from parents, other family members, society, media, and our own fabrications and truths. One day, it hit me: What I tell myself, from mind chatter to self-deprecation to my identity, really is what I am. I had been so focused on telling myself that I am a beautiful, plus size woman (which is totally fine, by the way) that no matter what my efforts were toward changing my body to reflect my athleticism and to heal very dangerous and eventually life-threatening health issues (that are directly tied to my diet and weight), I stayed a plus size woman. I stayed beautiful, of course, but when you are trying everything you can and frustrating someone you're paying to help you have a leaner body - and she actually cares deeply - very little is going to change. "I have my healthy body. I am healthy. I love being athletic. I am an athlete," is now my mantra, and I have seen incredible results! I mean, I did a big ass bike ride, guys! That didn't just come out of nowhere. I'd been mentally prepping myself for months, and I rocked 2 whole days of bike riding bliss.

I wonder if I knew back then in my trainer days what I know now if things would be different, and I believe they would be, but I gratefully bless the journey it took to get me to this point. I encourage anyone in the health and fitness industry to become vulnerable with their clients, reaching into your hearts first, bearing it all, so the ones who are training can go into themselves and find what it is that could be holding them back. Meet them halfway. Ask them how they identify themselves, and if they want a change, to encourage them to daily speak positive affirmations in the direction of their dreams. I can only imagine how it will work for them AND you! It's changing my life as I speak it.

If you don't have a trainer but you're interested in exploring these ideas, find someone you can be vulnerable with and just talk openly. Allow them to ask you questions and answer, honestly and truthfully, even if it hurts and even if you cry. Usually, that's where the really good stuff is! It's all going to be ok. In fact, it's all going to be even better. Explore what it is that you tell yourself, and then write your story from a place of love, acceptance, and positive growth. Read that story to yourself with an open heart, receiving what you've just given to you: a new plan, a new future, and a new story to identify with.

Oh, and don't forget to tell me how it goes! Thanks for reading, guys! 

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