Yes, it has been a minute since my last post. Big thanks (and apologies) to anyone who sent me emails or left comments asking about when I’m going to post again. I just needed a minute.
Fitness blogs started to kind of scared me. More accurately, my participation in the Age of Fitness Blogging scared me. Everyone and their mom has a blog. Many of them are just like mine. The more time I spent reading them, the more I had to wonder if I was really contributing anything new to the world or if I was just being redundant. After all, fitness experts and personal trainers are crammed in at about 1,000 per square foot of blogosphere. And we are all so damn presumptuous.
Blogging is all about voice and audience. Who am I talking to? Recently, when I started to picture my audience, it was all over. Am I talking down to someone? Who do I think I am? The whole premise of the blog was to send the message—hey, I’m not an expert. I’m just this chick who got fit and learned to like herself. Come get fit and like yourself with me! But lately I am forced to remember that I’ve been doing this so long that I just make people feel bad when I swear that I relate to being overweight. A friend politely pointed this out (thank you, Friend!!), and I haven’t been able to get my voice back since.
As you may be able to tell, I had started to picture the haters in my audience. Oh yes, I have haters. And I got a little freaked out by them. They are actually reading this right now—because that’s what haters do. This is a very personal blog—all the best fitness blogs really are—and that leaves me wide open and vulnerable to critics and weirdos. Which straight up creeped me the hell out.
I began to see myself through the eyes of the haters—who does she think she is? Who decided that she was an expert? She’s not even that great. God, what a selfish mom. I’d have time to get fit too if I had [fill in something, it could be anything]. Is fitness really even that important in the grand scheme of things? And on and on. Total existential crisis. It’s never my peers in the industry, either. It’s never the people I look up to whose opinions I really value. It’s always the insecure ones who hate their bodies and take it out on me. My existence makes their day bad. These haters find each other and are comforted by other overweight self-haters and motivate each other on Pinterest using images of women who look much like me, but aren’t me, because the anonymity makes it ok. Sometimes they even go out of their way to NOT do what I do. If this makes you giggle, good. Because once I got over the hurt of it, I couldn’t stop laughing. I now giggle from time to time when I walk in the room and see that I’ve just ruined some woman’s day by living. This might make me a bad person, but I tried to be nice. And I’m not without fault—I have feelings too.
I ran away for a bit, into the safety of silence. I closed myself off and away from vulnerability. I stopped blogging. I stopped actively marketing myself and my business on social media. I made myself less so that other women wouldn’t be insecure. But who does that benefit? I went into the fitness industry with a specific goal—first, it was to stop hating myself. And then, it was to help other women stop hating themselves too. I want to affect change in body image and self esteem. If one person reads my blog and is affected positively, then I’ve reached my goal. So I’m going to keep writing, because I’m presumptuous enough to believe that I have something important to say.
Interestingly enough, my change of heart was inspired by a teenager. Well, a conversation I have been having with this teenager. She is a volleyball player on the team I coach for. At 14, she was putting in more work than some professional athletes I know. She is intense, she is driven, and she is not afraid to call her shots. She will work tirelessly for every claim she makes. And she is misunderstood. People mistake her determination for cockiness, her focus for snobbiness, and because many of them never see the long hours she puts in at the track or in the gym, they just don’t understand that she is backing it all up. They just don’t understand her. They don’t get where she is coming from. And they are incredibly jealous of her unapologetic confidence. So few people have the confidence to be confident—and when people meet the ones who do, it highlights their insecurities.
This would be upsetting to anyone, but at age 15 this is a lot to deal with. Of course, as an adult, it’s plain as day. Keep working, I told her—no one will be laughing when you make it to the Olympics. People don’t understand intense people, but don’t let that stop you, I told her. I even shared with her my favorite quote:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
Well. Some lessons are a lot easier taught than learned, aren’t they? And a lot easier spoken than lived. It was easy to see why she has haters, and it was easy to recommend that she just push on and do her thing. They’re just jealous. But for me to accept that someone is jealous and keep pushing forward? Well, I feel cocky and awful just typing it. More advice to my young athlete: accept the jealousy for what it is (it’s ok to get a few giggles in from time to time when you start to see how transparent their behavior is), let it humble you, and move on.
So here I am, back to my blog. Humbled (and maybe a little entertained…) by my haters, forced to accept my own advice, inspired by a young athlete, and unapologetically determined to affect positive change in women around issues of body image and self esteem.