In the past I found myself constantly saying:
“When I lose weight…”
“When I’m a size…”
“When I lose the fat…”
“When my abs are defined…”
I had all these grand plans for “someday.” I waited around long enough for that day, a day that was obviously never coming. Even if I did lose the fat, the weight and had a 6 pack; I would find something else to be self-conscious about.
I am a CrossFitter and I see all these CrossFit chicks with their defined abs and cute sports bras working out, wishing that could be me. I lived in the Cayman Islands for over a year where it is unfathomably hot and humid. So much so, that you just wanted to finish the WOD first so you could actually sit in front of a fan – not for bragging rights! During that year, I never took off my shirt once. I was too scared of what I would look like or how people would judge me for trying to be one of those badass shirtless girls. Instead I suffered in the heat with my sopping wet tank attempting to cool down in front of the fan with 5 other sweaty CrossFitters.
It is much easier for me to make excuses and hide behind fears than it is to embrace who I really am right now. It was easier to dream up the future me who loved her body, rocked a 6 pack and never worked out with a shirt on. Just because something is easier, doesn’t mean it is right. It was time to step out of my comfort zone, out of easy.
At this moment I’m not the skinniest girl by any means. I don’t have six pack and I have fat on my body.
I finally just got tired (and really just way too hot) of waiting until “someday” and decided to start living and stop caring now!
It was time to start loving my “now” body, not my “someday” body. I looked at this challenge much like a WOD or a lift. I often tell myself and my athletes:
“If you tell yourself you can’t, then you can’t. Even if you have to lie, keep lying until you believe yourself!”
So, on June 15 (coincidently Father’s Day) I decided I would go to work at Lululemon without a shirt and just rock my sports bra.
This wasn’t an easy decision for me. I have been self-conscious about my body, especially my stomach, for as long as I can remember. Growing up I was very overweight and often teased. I wanted to fit in with the other girls wearing 2 piece swimsuits in the summer, but would often get mocked about my belly. I distinctly remember one time a group of girls saying I looked pregnant. I would try to brush it off or make some kind of joke, but I was never comfortable showing off my body. Even at my thinnest, I was worried others would still think I was fat. I was careful about how I sat, moved and how my body appeared to others. I would stand in front of the mirror picking apart my body and all the areas I felt needed work. I felt as if I would never be comfortable in my own skin.
And I was right. If I kept having a negative view of my body, I would never love my body and myself. So, I started lying to myself (or what I believed to be a lie at the time) and saying I loved my body and it is perfect right now. I kept lying until I finally started to believe it. I also looked at all the hard work I put in to have the body I do right now. I workout 2 hours a day, eat properly, sleep and meditate. Why put all this effort into something and never enjoy it?
So, I embraced my body without a shirt. I didn’t have a whole lot to lose. I felt comfortable, it was hot outside and if people wanted to talk about me – then they can waste their time doing so.
In addition to going shirtless inside the store, I also took a walk in the mall. The mall walk was by far my favorite! Below are some of the encounters I had while not wearing a shirt:
Teenage Girl and Mother #1:
As soon as I greeted them upon entering the Mother did not look happy. She gave me a forced smile and her eyes said “What on earth…” The girl, about 14 or 15 was looking at purchasing a sports bra. I gave my input on the two bras she was contemplating, explaining they had the same support, but one had a really fun back that you can even show off a little with some of the tanks. At this point the Mother was giving me the up-down and obviously did not want to hear what I had to say. I let them be to decide and in the end they bought the bra that I did not suggest…not surprising.
While walking through the mall an elderly woman made eye contact with me and her jaw dropped. She just stared with this look of “our youth these days…back in my day…” She didn’t say a word to me, but the look said it all. I smiled and continued my walk.
Toddler in a Stroller:
Also, while walking through the mall a young girl being pushed in her stroller pointed to me and said, “Mommy, why she no wear a shirt?” I smiled and waved. She waved back.
Teenage Girl and Mother #2:
They approached the cash register together and the teenager (about 16) was wearing a crop top showing a few inches of her belly. The mother yells out “Now see! This is what fit is!!” Pointing to me and then to her daughter. I thanked her and said I very much appreciated the compliment. She then went on to explain that he daughter participated in a pageant the day before and the girl who won was “stick thin you could see her ribs and had fake boobs!” The mother then went on to say, “how do you explain that to your teenage daughter?!?” I agreed and said, “Just keep doing what you are doing, you are beautiful and confident!” We then started chatting about CrossFit and ended our conversation with some bicep flexing and on her way out I said, “Keep it up and don’t hurt anyone with those guns!”
In general, I have never seen so many people (male and female) work so hard to keep eye contact with me. I don’t think most people heard anything I had to say because they were so focused on trying to look me in the eyes.
While walking through the mall the one thing that kept happening over and over again was women would look at me, then instantly start whispering to one another. I would just look over and smile. I don’t know if they were saying good or bad things and I can honestly say that I don’t care either way.
I am a confident person, but when it comes to my body I have not been. This shirtless experiment taught me that it doesn’t matter what other people say or think about me. The only way others can affect you is if you let them. If you just smile and move on with your day, the only opinion that matters is yours.
It was extremely freeing, like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders to realize this.
It doesn’t matter your body type – be confident with what you got and love it. Take your shirt off and enjoy the freedom!
Maybe you don’t have a job like mine where you can go shirtless, but try it during your next WOD. International “I don’t give a **** Shirtless Day” coming soon!
Source: The Real Rx Blog
Meghan Prunty is a Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and CrossFit Coach. It took decades before she was confident enough to take her shirt off in public and not give a **** what others think. It was a bumpy road to discover a postivie relationship with her body. She now makes that road a bit smoother for others. She helps CrossFitters to gain confidence so they can be stronger inside and outside of the box.
Discover how Meghan can help you increase your strength AND confidence while reaching your goals.
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