Why you don't want to use another person as the standard for what YOU should be
"After all that, I'm just ready to be me." -Lauryn Hill
I'm work fitness.
I help women stretch beyond their comfort zones and grow.
I help them find time in their days and space in their lives to care for their bodies with movement and training.
I help them crush goals, change how they feel in their bodies and even change aspects of their physique.
I do NOT tell them that they have to be like me.
I do NOT encourage them to look to Pinterest boards and fitness models as inspiration for whom they should become.
I have an online presence that features me working out, sharing my accomplishments, challenging others to do more in their lives.
I follow other women that are crushing online.
I look to them and their accomplishments with admiration.
I use them to challenge me.
I work HARD to make sure that I refrain from EMULATING them or believing that I have to do exactly what they are doing to be successful, to be happy.
You see, I am 100% in opposition of is the idea that we should EVER make another individual human being the standard for what WE SHOULD BE.
I spent from age 13 to 19 suffering chronic whiplash from always looking around at what EVERYONE else was doing and using that as a measure of what I needed to be.
Consequently I had NO direction.
I felt like a failure and a fraud.
I pretty much hated my life.
At 19 years old I had two amazing faculty members at the University of New Hampshire, that changed my life.
They saw me.
They saw my talents and my potential for the successful achievement of goals.
They believed in me.
They weren't confused about who I was.
They weren't comparing me to anyone else.
They weren't telling me to become something else.
They simply let me know that I was capable and that I could cultivate a life for myself beyond what I was doing now.
I could do better.
And never in a "you don't measure up" sort of manner, but in a, "I see you. You got this," sort of way.
And suddenly I wanted to change EVERYTHING.
I wanted to invest in myself.
I wanted to expand my comfort zone and pursue all the things that I wanted out of life.
I saw fellow students buckling down and succeeding in school and I went after MY OWN version of that.
I saw my friends enjoying their hobbies and academic pursuits and I wanted to figure out how to do that for myself too!
I took a hard look at the habits, relationships and activities in my life that WERE NOT working and I changed them.
I took another job.
I studied like I had NEVER studied before.
I set goals.
I wrote them down.
I changed who I spent time with.
I found new tasks and activities that actually nourished me.
My life suddenly looked like no one else's around me and you know what.
It was good.
Of course this took place over a couple of years and while I learned this incredibly important lesson early in life, I have had to re-learn it and grow it and build upon it time and time again.
BUT the foundation that nineteen year old Sarah Smith laid has FOREVER impacted my life and helped me to stop chasing everyone else and invest in my own life.
And this is why I feel so passionately about speaking out against the MANY messages in fitness, social media and popular culture that tell you,
"Be this_______[insert snapshot of popular, fit, successful person]."
Especially for pre and postnatal women, women struggling with their body image, confidence, self respect and a sense of place in this world.
Because when we are in theses states we are vulnerable.
We can be more susceptible to harmful messaging.
We can do ourselves harm chasing standards set for us by the culture EVEN when we don't know that we are doing it.
That nineteen year old young woman that was affected by what everyone else around her was doing, she came out again during my third pregnancy and postpartum period.
I found myself being affected by what fitness culture was telling me pregnant and early postpartum women should be doing, looking like, be capable of.
I didn't even know that I was doing it!
I was working my ass off.
Training, lifting, chasing kiddos, not always eating enough, exhausted, a little fried...
Because I thought that's what you did.
And then I injured my body.
The good thing about my injury is that it taught me that I could no longer copy what anyone else was doing.
NO one readily accessible to me rehabbing pelvic floor dysfunction, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse AND training with kettlebells.
I had to look to my own body.
I had to pay attention to my own life.
I had to work around my own restrictions and capitalize on my own strength.
Once again I had to stop using what others were doing as my meter stick for success and fitness.
And it was good!
I now am SUPER outspoken about the fact that pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse and other injuries shouldn't stop you from living your life and crushing your goals.
But I the way that I train and the messages that I share are always based on the idea that we need to learn what works for us as individuals.
We need to challenge ourselves to grow.
But trying to keep up with other people and do exactly what they are doing is both an empty, dangerous and unsatisfying pursuit.
At the end of the day, we are 100% responsible for shifting our focus and our mindset from looking to other people to learn "What we should be."
But I also know how impactful it was to have two very successful intelligent people in my life say, "I see you. You can do more. Dig in and grow. "
And so that's what I do with my coaching and my online community.
I see you.
You can do it!
It doesn't have to look like what anyone else is doing to be good, valuable...to be a success.