I was never a very athletic child. In contrast, my family is incredibly sports oriented and, even, athletically gifted! There was always a cousin playing hockey, an uncle in a tennis tournament, my sister in soccer or my mother cross country skiing. None of these activities came naturally to me. Growing up I had this distinct feeling of not being good enough for sports. I tried to find something that I was good at. There was the time I barely made the basketball team and played the entire season without scoring one point. Or the track and field meet that I was able to participate in only because someone came down sick. I managed to come in last even though I was doing my absolute best. I dreaded physical education and team sports, always feeling clumsy and uncoordinated. I associated physical activity with embarrassment. As a result, I identified with and started to enjoy being the “skinny” girl. I was the slender teenager playing musical instruments and acting in the school play. I never knew how it felt to be “strong.”
The first time I remember tapping into my strength was during my yoga teacher training. It was a result of the consistent yoga practice that I had committed myself to during that entire transformational period. I remember feeling more grounded, more coordinated and taller. I felt like I also had increased emotional and mental resilience. When I looked in the mirror I saw broader shoulders and stronger arms. I saw confidence and determination. I felt strong and I LOVED it. That experience changed me for life. I would no longer glorify “skinny” and always chose strength over slenderness.
What does that mean for me as a practicing Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Teacher? While I do provide nutrition for gentle weight loss support and teach classes that boost metabolism and use fat stores, I will always prioritize strong over skinny. I will tell my clients and students that health is less about what you weigh and more about how you feel. After all, muscle does weigh more than fat! Wellness is more complicated than a number on a scale. Also, if you focus on being strong, and eating a whole foods diet that supports your activity level and nutrient needs, everything else will fall in to place. We need to re-frame exercise and healthy eating and commit to it because we love our bodies, not because we hate them.
Today I care less about what people think and care more about what makes me thrive as my own biochemically unique human being. What makes me, Julia, feel my best during this period of my life. My current wellness regime consists of clean eating, playing with my children, going for winter walks, and regular yoga practices.