Love the Skin You’re In

Wellness Wednesday encourages you to… 
Love The Skin You’re In

Six women.  A barrage of squats, burpees, and lunges have led to sweat…and lots of it.  The scene is my studio and the night is like any typical Monday or Wednesday at 7pm.   The same 6 women come through my door for training…some tired from a long day of work, others are excited about the challenge ahead, and some are a little nervous as each pod night looks and feels a little different..  This night is no different than the rest…except that my A.C. is on the fritz.  The room is considerably warmer.  The 90 degree weather outside and the physical activity inside is producing quite a sauna effect.

“It’s too hot in here, Jenni!!” they complained.  I explained that sweat is good for the body to release toxins, but the positive spin on the situation was not appreciated. Then it happened.  Patty, my 59 year old client who trains with a bunch of 20 and 30 year old women, tucked her shirt into her bra.   Such a simple solution to the heat, but it turned out to be one of the most profound actions that has occurred in my studio to date.   I smiled and announced to the room, “Yep—Patty is getting naked!”  The next thing I know one by one the shirts came off.  One by one, woman after woman was working out in her sports bra.   I have women of all different ages, shapes and sizes.  There was no concern for the 6’ x 10’ mirrors that surrounded them.  There was no concern for the fact that some of the bellies had not seen the sun in many years.   All that mattered is that they were in a safe place with other women who were working toward a common goal: to become healthier stronger versions of themselves. 
The moment stopped me in my tracks.  I have trained several hundred classes and pods before—but never before had the environment and the situation been “just right” that 4 of the 6 women in the room felt comfortable enough to take their shirts off and work hard.  This level of vulnerability was beautiful.  
In this moment a statement was being made:  I am comfortable in my own skin.  I am comfortable in this place and with these people, and I love myself and my body, imperfections and all.  I don’t need to wait until I am a size 2 or at an optimal body composition for someone to see my belly button.  They listened to an inner voice that said, “it’s hot in here—if I were by myself I would probably take off my shirt and wear my bra—I don’t care who is watching, I am comfortable right here and right now—it’s hot–the shirt’s coming off!”  
Janine and I dream that women will find this type of security and comfort in and outside of our studios.   I think it is only here that a woman will then be able to continue to move through transitions with her body and her life.  If we cannot accept who we are today, but instead constantly hate the place where we are, we have not surrendered to the process.   And get this: I believe Life IS the process.   If we spend countless hours worrying, comparing, and wishing things to be different, then we are wasting precious life moments.  Those same moments can be spent in acceptance of who we are now and excited about where we are headed in the future!   We must first accept and love ourselves right where we are, knowing that we will NEVER be perfect.  Yep I said it, and let me repeat it:  we will never be perfect. 
Just when we think we have the perfect skin…wrinkles start to appear.
Just when we think we have the perfect jean size…skinny jeans come in style.
Just when we think we have the perfect smile…the dentist suggests veneers.
Just when we think we have the perfect chest…gravity takes the twins down south!
Just when we think we have the perfect (fill in the blank)…this world distracts us from a place of contentment and encourages us to strive for something different.  
We must be thankful for a body that moves freely.  For legs that are able to run and jump.  For arms that can lift and hold.  For a brain that brilliantly tells our body where and how to move in perfect unison.  We must be thankful for the opportunity to wake up and move each day.  To feel sore!   We must be thankful for a body that can run, kick, jump, or swim.  For a body that can embrace those we love, and playfully lift, carry and race our children at the park.   We must be thankful for the curves (or lack of them) that make us uniquely individual and make us who we are.    Internal and external transformation falls upon those who actually are thankful for the skin they are in—right now.   
Those same women in my little “sauna” that night were not looking around sizing one another up.  They were not concerned with how their clothes fit, how so and so’s squat looked, or whether or not they were sweatier than the rest of the women in the room.  They were fully focused on the task at hand.  There were no comparisons.  That is a rule in P.O.W.E.R. studios…and most of the time the rules are respected.  In comparison there is self-loathing, or wishing, or wanting, and it is toxic.  Each journey looks different. We must embrace the journey that we are on.    It will steal our joy to constantly be comparing ourselves to others.   The sooner we can keep our eyes fixed on the task at hand and the journey WE are on, the sooner that we can stop trying to keep up with the “Mrs. Jones’ body, physique, jean size or convertible for that matter”!
When we strive for the body of someone else…and start chopping women in to pieces, “I would like her Kelly’s legs, Amy’s arms, and Abbie’s stomach… we are creating a completely unrealistic version of ourselves..    Bodies are shaped differently…they (even when lean) look VERY different.  If my sweet Patty was constantly looking at the 20 year old who is a size 0 and wishing she could be in her skin…with everything perky and in place, she would leave each week deflated and beating herself up for the ways she is constantly coming up short.  She would miss the absolute blessing of the journey she is currently on.  A journey that is committed to building strong bones and beating osteopenia without medication.  In the process she has become stronger than she has ever been in her lifetime.  She is replacing fat with muscle, her body continues to transform to a healthier, stronger, leaner version of Patty.  I could not be more proud of this woman as she is a picture of loving the skin that she is in and embracing each step of the journey. 
Those precious six women taught me a powerful lesson that night.  One that is worth sharing with others.   Change starts from the inside out.  Change starts with vulnerability. Change starts when we feel safe.  Change starts when we stop comparing ourselves to others.  Change starts when we love ourselves right where we are.  Change starts when we recognize simply—“it’s hot and I don’t care who’s looking…I don’t care what shape or size I am…I am taking off my shirt.”  Thank you night pod for inspiring women and me…for challenging others to look at the larger picture of this life and say—I am ready to embrace the skin I am in! 

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