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After years of being a competitive athlete, struggling through three knee surgeries, and several years of agonizing knee pain, I have finally found a fitness routine that works for my body and makes me happy. For about three or four months now, I’ve been practicing a regular regimen. This routine has not just worked for me in the gym but has made me feel more confident. Since beginning my Intentional Living journey and implementing my fitness routine, I found confidence in my strength, felt changes in my mindset, and an overall change in my attitude. In full disclosure, I had every intention of walking into the gym with the mindset of just losing weight. Now, I walk into the gym with empowerment, focus, and a love for the rush of strength.
I want to preface this blog with a few notes before continuing. This blog is completely from my own experiences. I felt compelled to share this journey with you because I have found many positives from going to the gym. I will say I am proud of the weight I’ve lost and will continue to work on; however, this blog is not here to tell you to make physical changes. I believe all bodies are incredibly beautiful, and the purpose of this piece is to share with you the incredible strength I’ve found from being active. This journey, more than anything, has made me feel like a strong and empowered woman again, and that is the message I am sharing. Before moving on, I’d like to note a trigger warning for sexual assault.
Taking Back the Control
When I began my Intentional Living journey, one of the first things I took action on was my health and my body. I was exhausted from looking in the mirror and feeling disappointed. I was a dancer my entire young adult life, and competitive from ages 14 to 18. In those years, I pushed my body to its peak abilities, and I was in my best physical shape. The disappointment came from knowing what my body was capable of and doing nothing to work towards those abilities. Because of my major knee surgery, I was incredibly apprehensive about getting back in the gym on my own. I was terrified of using a machine wrong or working my body wrong, and hurting the knee. My reconstruction involved drilling several anchors and screws into my knee and replacing dead tissue to keep everything in place. So, if I even applied pressure incorrectly, I could redamage the knee until I built up the appropriate strength. Because of this, my mom and I felt it necessary to invest our money into a personal trainer who could help me get comfortable in the gym.
Once I got into the gym, I immediately felt a rekindling and love for physical activity. I could feel myself reconnecting with my muscles (which had completely atrophied during my recovery), and I began building strength. When I was living in New York, I had a gym membership. I remember that going to the gym, unless it was for yoga, always felt like a task. But, I also remember always wanting to be one of those women who loved waking up early and going to the gym. That was the point I wanted to work towards; striving for a mindset where it wasn’t a task but a need.
Finding My Strength
I began to realize the true impact going to the gym was having on me around March. I was having a few excellent weeks in the gym and felt like I was running on a high. One night, I had been writing in my 6-Minute Diary, and like every night, it asked me what great things happened that day. I was thinking about my workout and all the progress I had made in building my strength since my surgery. From that thought, I began comparing that strength to how truly weak I physically felt in the last several years, which brings me to my assault. This has never been something I’ve publicly shared. I’ve never hidden it, but it’s not exactly something I’m open about. But, when I decided to write this blog, I wanted this moment of my life to be a part of this story of strength.
I was sexually assaulted my sophomore year of college. The main emotion that encompassed this moment in my life was anger; I couldn’t believe that after losing my brother, I now had to go through this. I was angry at the man who did this to me, I was angry at the universe, and I was angry at myself. During the trial, the defendant’s lawyer asked me, “Why didn’t you scream? Why didn’t you fight him off?” In the moment, I was so completely and utterly shocked that my response was the same to the assault, silence. During my assault, I was in a pure state of shock. I think my fight or flight missed its full connection, and all I was doing to fight was trying to push him off. In that moment, I felt incredibly weak.
Creating a Fitness Routine & Living Intentionally
During the trial and in the years after, I felt weakness. I was overwhelmed by anger because I knew I was capable of feeling strength. These feelings continued when I came home to Florida, feeling like I had failed. I felt weak, and I was overwhelmingly depressed. My habits and routines took time to implement and see change. But, I began to see immediate change when I started working out. Within the first month, I began to feel stronger, more confident, more empowered. I dove into creating a routine and a balance for me that meant both living intentionally and finding my strength.
So, when I talk to you about habits and routines and I use examples, and those examples are often working out, exercise, or activity, it’s not because I think we need to change our bodies, although if you have a desire to do so, I say go for it. I use those examples because I believe that fitness can mean more than just changing our image when implemented correctly and in a healthy environment. Throughout my journey of intentional living, my self-love and my own body positivity have grown significantly. These experiences are what have worked for me. I am proud of my body. I love who I am and I am continuing to grow. The strength I see in myself today, both physically and mentally, I believe is remarkable and I will never stop building on that version of myself.
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