I’ve wanted to write about this topic for a while, but struggled with what I would say, how I would say it, and how people would perceive it. I recently finish up a weekend with Gabrielle Bernstein at Kripalu, called Breaking Through Blocks (highly recommend) and decided that the time is NOW. So like it or not here I come!
Full disclosure; yes, my yoga journey started 8 years to try and relieve stress but also, and probably more so, as a new way to get a kick ass workout. At the time I was literally running myself into the ground, when a woman I worked with approached me at the gym about trying hot yoga. What did I have to lose? I had a free pass in hand, it was local, and I needed a change. I was in a super stressful entry level Customer Service job and running, or going to the gym every day, was getting old. Probably obvious to those who know me, but I was in love from day one. Even after literally thanking the lord when we finally hit the floor during my first 90-minute class in a 95-degree room with 50% humidity. This stuff was no joke!
Let’s move backward a little bit, because this post isn’t about how I got hooked on yoga, it’s about body image. I have always been an anxious and sensitive person, for as long as I can recall. I would literally worry about my dad leaving for work and never coming home, my parents getting divorced (they will celebrate 43 years in October!), or someone breaking into our home. I’ve read a lot about generalized anxiety and it seems that I it’s just part of me, something I was born with. So this, among other incidences in my life, manifested into years of disordered eating. My weight would constantly go up and down; my freshman year in college being the worst at just 95 pounds. I did everything; pills, starving, purging, over exercise; whatever I THOUGHT needed to do to keep “in control” of my life because I could not control the anxiety and trauma I had endured. In reality, I was not in control of my body or mind, but it took almost 20 years for me to see this.
Now yoga, as I learned after starting a practice, is a great way to help disordered eating and anxiety in some situations. The studio I started at and practiced at for 10 years, was the only one I visited for most of this time. I enjoyed the practice immensely; the sweating, the movements, the amazing instructors, but it was not helping with the eating issues and in some way it started to feed it. The studio was filled with mostly wealthy, very thin women, dressed head to toe in this brand called Lululemon (yes I realize I’m dating myself). The short story is that I was able to overcome some of that unease and received my 200 hour registered yoga certification 5 years later.
A few years later I found Crossfit. Now please try to ignore your pre-conceived notions or experiences for just a moment. Yes, you can get hurt doing it like any other activity, but this also depends on the coaching you receive, like any other group type class. That’s all I’ll say on that now :). And now for the first time, in a long time, I was in a space where people were cheering each other on, no matter what level you were. I was a space where women were proud to be and feel strong! Slowly, but surely my thinking started to shift. I went back to eating meat after 13 years; I started to have more energy and muscle tone. Now is not the part where I say, “OMG Crossfit healed me!” Nope, not the case. BUT it did lead me down the path to start re-training my brain; YES, strong is the new skinny (I know soooo cliché). And not only do you need food for fuel, but you need A LOT of good clean food to stay energized.
Most recently I’ve been able to take all this knowledge and training and create the fitness world I live in today. I helped create Studio U, a space where it doesn’t matter what your body type is, where you came from, what type of fitness you do or did, or what you look like. It matters that you made it to a class, any class, and did the best you could! Isn’t that all we can ever ask of ourselves? And now in this beautiful and inspiring space I am able to teach MY yoga; combining flexibility, strength and a little spirituality. This is where I am now. Am I healed? No. Am I tremendously better than I was? Most definitely. I am literally a work in progress, every day is a new day to try and better myself and help better others.
Here are some of my tips that helped me in my journey, and I hope maybe can help some of you as well!
- Find a type of fitness that makes you happy and is fun. Not necessarily for building muscle or losing weight!
- Find Yoga. I love Power Yoga, that is why I teach it. This weekend I took a Restorative Yoga Class that I called “nap time”, ha. I hated every moment of it, but I made it through 70 minutes because you know what? That is what my body needed. Maybe that’s your yoga, maybe just meditating is your yoga, doesn’t matter but find something!
- Get out! Do fun things with your friends and your family, surround yourself with love. When we are feeling badly about ourselves we just want to hide, but this feeds the cycle.
- Find something to move away from resistance and fear. Maybe it’s a therapist, a friend, a workshop, writing, or screaming out loud, anything that works for you. We need to be able to release unhealthy thoughts, holding it in only feeds the issues.
- Most important one, give yourself a F*
CKING break! We are human, we do the best we can, and some days are better than others. Just be sure to move on from it.
That’s all I have for you right now on this topic, but I look forward to writing much more! In addition to running Studio U, I also teach multiple classes a week, and teach privates for yoga, strength work, or working with students that want to do teacher training/teach yoga. I can always be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Come build strength with me this week! Love, Katie