Written for DAUB by Artist Tara Victoria
“We’re born knowing how to trust our instincts, how to breathe deeply, how to eat only when we’re hungry, how to not care about what anyone thinks of our singing voices, dance moves, or hairdos, we know how to play, create, and love without holding back. Then, as we grow and learn from the people around us, we replace many of these primal understandings with negative false beliefs, fear, shame, and self-doubt. Then we wind up in emotional and physical pain. Then we either numb our pain with drugs, sex, booze, TV, Cheetos, etc. Or we settle for mediocrity. OR we rise to the occasion, remember how truly mighty we are, and set out to relearn everything we knew at the beginning all over again.” -Jen Sincero
My journey with fitness, wellness, and self-love has been the furthest thing from linear. I used to think working out and eating well were for weight-loss. I didn’t understand the impact they can have when you let go of the beliefs we absorb in the media and those we’re surrounded by as we grow up. I didn’t understand all that would or could come from simply committing to find a way that speaks to you to move your body. Something that you actually enjoy, rather than something that you force upon yourself because you feel like you need to fit into those pants or because you “should” go to the gym. I didn’t understand that searching for that thing that you actually want to keep coming back to, and keep coming back to simply because YOU enjoy it and it makes YOU feel good, would bleed positivity into every aspect of my life.
I spent a long time forcing workout plans, diets, under eating, over exerting myself, and saying the most cruel things to myself when I looked in the mirror. The list of reasons for these acts of self-destruction was long, but they were all rooted in not knowing how to love myself–inwardly and outwardly. We’re all guilty at some point or another of being the absolute worst to ourselves, and I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out and now I’m never mean to myself…far from it. But I’ve learned and grown into this body and mind that exists here and now and learned to love both a little more each day.
The tipping point in the right direction for all of this started more recently on a journey that was unexpectedly one of self-discovery more than just chasing a goal. A few years back, I found a sport I desperately loved and wanted to continue growing in: CrossFit. The world shut down and put that on a bit of a pause, but as I got back into it and slowly started building the consistency and chasing a specific goal again, I knew I wanted to go deeper. I started working with a nutrition coach and later a performance training coach. When I took a look at my nutrition and began fueling and listening to my body, I had absolutely no idea the impact it would have on quite literally everything. My mental health improved, my sleep (something I have struggled with for years) got better, I could focus on work more easily, my mood shifted, I felt more clear and inspired, my creativity became a little renewed…the list goes on. I’m not saying it was a quick fix and I never struggle now, but it gave me a better baseline to work from and the tools to listen to my body and give it what it needs. And in return, as it always has, it showed up for me.
I learned that finding your own way to care for your body–whether that’s a specific sport, the way we eat, choosing to commit to a goal and watching yourself grow around that consistency, or just taking the time to better care for ourselves, is less about any type of result and more about simply showing up for yourself and what that does to how your self-image. In that consistency, I found a lot of love, grace, and understanding for myself. Sure, I built muscle, look a bit different, and am able to do things I couldn’t six months ago, but those things became almost irrelevant throughout this process. By showing up for myself, I gave myself, ultimately, what we all crave and sometimes chase from others: love and care. And from that grew a lot of confidence, less insecurities, a reminder of my inner strength, and more trust in myself. I found myself to be reliable in the ways I needed myself to be. I gained a deeper understanding of my own needs and how I can try to meet those needs on a daily basis.
No one is going to look back on their life and regret the time they spent on themselves, improving their well-being, and doing more of the things they enjoy. You don’t have to have a goal, you don’t have to chase anything, you don’t have to find a sport. You can just choose to commit to finding the things that help you feel better and show up for yourself consistently in that way. Watch what happens when you do that thing every day, or 3 times a week–however often it is. Watch the power of that consistency, what it does to how you feel about yourself, and how you feel in general. I promise you will not regret it.