I suppose it's time you know all about me..the dirt...the history...the reason for why I'm doing what I'm doing now. (This is heavy and I get personal here...but for a very good reason.) I don't mind being vulnerable with you because every time I open up, I hear a similar story echoed back from you. I have a feeling this will hit home with you today.
I am an insecure person. I'm naturally an introvert, more comfortable hiding in the background, just listening, taking it all in, and then retreating to my comfort zone when I feel ready. I have always been this way.
Unfortunately, these quiet insecurities inevitably leached into the way I viewed my body.
It began in middle school, like so many stories about insecurity do. My friends were growing boobs and I wasn't. My friends were becoming taller, more slender and curvier, and I wasn't. And of course, I wasn't the only one to notice this and was teased...once even being asked if I wore a bra yet. (As a 14 year old girl, that stings.)
At the time I had no sense of health. I played some sports, but fitness and healthy eating were never on my radar. I ate Hot Pockets and Oreos for lunch, and my typical after school snack was a king size Snickers bar and a Diet Coke. Obviously, as a girl with changing hormones, these habits quickly caught up with me. I didn't notice myself putting on the extra pounds, because I didn't really care...yet.
But then suddenly, I noticed. I must have been 16 or 17 at the time. I realized I was sort of chunky, and far from slender. These thoughts began as a tiny black seed inside me and soon grew into an entangling lie that was so big it clouded everything. I couldn't look into a mirror or a window that reflected my image without feeling disgust and hatred. In my eyes, I saw a thick body, a flat chest, no waist, and big arms and shoulders.
"If I could just get skinnier, then maybe it would make my boobs look bigger. If I could just lose weight, then maybe my waist would materialize."
So that's what I did. I grabbed some Shape and Fitness magazines so I could figure out how to change my body. I counted calories. I ran like a fiend. I avoided certain foods like the plague. I did butt-toning and waist-whittling exercises in my room at night. I was all in. I was going to make this body look good!
But why? To be noticed. To be accepted. To hear the occasional comment "you look great, Megan!" To be attractive and desirable. To quell my insecurities.
Oh, this was a bad dungeon I dug for myself...one the Enemy happily escorted me into.
Once I was primed, despondent, full of hatred and disgust, he introduced the extremes to me. I started making myself throw up. I would go a full day without eating. I would spend hours on the treadmill, running until I burned at least 500 calories. I weighed myself constantly. I was a slave and Someone was maniacally laughing in the background.
A learning process. While I was studying Exercise Science (kinesiology) in school (for all the wrong reasons...clearly I was convincing myself I was simply interested in fitness), I started to actually LEARN.
Jesus started to gently and lovingly speak to me through education. I was learning how muscles worked, how oxygen is used, how certain nutrients are critical, and how incredibly AWESOME God designed our bodies...my body. He started to show me how wrong and how deeply rooted in a lie I was.
"I love you. I made your body. I designed its shape. I put your shoulders right where they are. I made your hips and chest the way they are. I created you like nobody else, and don't you dare trash my creation. But feel free to see what your body can DO. Just above all else, keep your eyes fixed on me."
This has been a slowly revealing revelation. Every day, the entangling lie loses its grip a little more as I believe this truth about my body a little deeper.
From a teenager-body to a mom-body. Pregnancy and motherhood was a curveball, as it forced me to let go of control and obsession even more. I GAINED weight during pregnancy (obviously, right?!), but this was a difficult pill to swallow. After pregnancy and breastfeeding, my chest became even smaller, my belly protruded a little more and I had extra skin around my belly button.
I still have moments where I stand in the mirror and squeeze, squish and flex to try and make my tummy go away, to make my arms look more slender and my legs look thinner. Then I see my reminder tattoo that says "fix my eyes", and Jesus pulls me into Him. I walk away from the mirror. I put on clothes that fit this body well and flee from these thoughts.
I know I'm not alone. I know you think some of these thoughts, too. You cringe at your body. You focus on the calorie burn. You demonize foods. You believe a lie about who you are and how you have been creatively made, and your new mom-body has exacerbated the issue. You fail to see what your body is capable of doing and how strong, fast, efficient and powerful your body can be.
My past, my story, has led me here. I simply want to share my professional knowledge and my personal experiences with you. I want to teach you how to shed the negative body image, and not just with positive self-talk, but with the power that only Jesus holds. He loves you, whether you believe it (or even believe in Him) or not. And He wants to set you free.
My workouts are never designed to shape your body. They never focus on looking better or toning this or that. I design workouts that make you ridiculously strong, fully capable and free from dysfunction and pain. Yep, toning and weight loss happens in the process (it always inevitably does), but that's not the point!
The same goes for my nutrition coaching philosophy. I teach you how to stop demonizing foods, how to enjoy healthy foods and how to do it forever. I'm not a juicer, a shaker or supplement taker. I'm honest about nutrition so that you can learn it well.
I want you to discover what I have. That if we first and foremost fix our eyes on Jesus instead of the mirror, we will find freedom in Him. I want you to see what your body is capable of doing. I want to teach you how to stay grounded in balance and moderation with your fitness and nutrition. I want to show you what it means to be a strong momma.
And slowly, just slowly, your own insecurities about your body will flake away as mine have.
Praise the Lord for His everlasting love!
Next Wednesday (9/14/16), the Strong Mommas Membership will be launching. Through the membership, I will be coaching you and teaching you how to train strong, eat healthy and practically, and maintain a clear and balanced perspective always. I hope you consider being a Strong Momma with me!
Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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