I’m embarrassed by my body. But, not in the way you’d expect. I’ve worked hard on my fitness, and in fact, have made a career of it. And yet, when people give me a complement about my body, I feel ashamed. And, my go to response is, “I get paid to be in shape.” Fact is, I often feel judged for being in shape. People’s comments are often not complementary, somehow taking an accusatory tone. There’s a suggestion that I should feel guilty for being strong. That I am pompous and self-centered, and stuck up because I am in shape. No one would ever accuse a man of these things if he spent time at the gym, sculpting his body. He’d just be hot and attractive and self-assured. As a woman, mother, wife we don’t give ourselves the right to be proud of our bodies. Somehow, in my mind, if I tell people I get paid for it, I have an excuse for dedicating my effort, time and focus to my health.
But, in fact, I’m not fit because someone pays me. That’s categorically and philosophically untrue. Firstly, my employer doesn’t pay me to be fit. In fact, they pay me to help other women develop a great relationship with their body and their fitness. They pay me to welcome new women to the gym and help steward members towards a better relationship with their own body. But, secondly, and more importantly, I’m not fit because I’m paid to do so. I got in shape and I stay in shape because I love it. Because I have joy in my activity and I love being in my body.
My fitness is very personal to me, and yet I often feel judged for how I look. People assume, that I sacrifice for my fitness. That I don’t enjoy life, that I don’t eat cookies, that I’m selfish because I find time for my own health instead of putting my family first every moment. There’s an assumption that a fit woman is vain, rigid, selfish, unhappy. That a mother and wife can’t be a great, liberated, altruistic, joyful person and still be in great shape.
I’ll admit that I am lucky enough to have an unique relationship to fitness. That I rarely have an excuse not to work out. That, it is my responsibility to show up at the gym four times a week and get after it. I’m not embarrassed that I taught class on the day I gave birth… twice. And, very few husbands would care for his newborn so that his wife could go back to the work that she loves. Regardless, staying in shape is not merely a job for me, it’s one of the best parts of my day. Every day.
Every woman has the right to love their body. To take the time to feel their body get strong. To look in the mirror and see something that they love. To see improvement and growth in their strength and speed. To have pride in their health. And yet so many woman feel guilty for going to the gym, feel too busy to take a walk, feel too needed to take five minutes for a sun salutation.
Fitness is so good for you, and what’s good for you is good for the people around you. The worst days can be turned around with a great workout. Sweating energizes you and raises your endorphins. A long run or walk help to focus your brain and organize your thoughts. And, everyone benefits from taking time for themselves to focus on their own goals and health.
For me, I’m entirely committed to my health and fitness. Through my biggest struggles, fitness has been there for me. From quitting smoking (so, so many years ago), to the first weeks of raising a preemie, to supporting a husband with cancer, to starting a new career, to turning 40, fitness has been there for me. It’s something that’s all mine. And, something I can share with others. It clears my head, fills me with energy, and gives me immeasurable joy. I love sharing this passion with others, with my friends, with my family, and with my children.
But, more than anything, I love sharing this joy with people who are new to this world. With women who aren’t sure where to start and aren’t sure they can do it and don’t believe they will love it. More than anything, I hope that I can share this hope and joy with more women so that we can all share in the pride and joy of loving the skin we’re in.