#whatslovely STRENGTH

Strength is #whatslovely.

Strength means something different to everyone. One person may feel strong running a marathon while another person may feel strong by giving a powerful speech. Many of the challenges we are faced with in life present a silver lining because once the hard part is over, we become stronger.

Everyone has their own story of strength and today we want to share TWO stories with you.

First up is Ashley from Coffee Cake and Cardio has shared with us her story of strength after becoming a mother and learning to love her body for the amazing things it is capable of!

Never in a million years could I have imagined how strong and resilient my body was until I got pregnant and became a mom.  Sure I competed in powerlifting, threw the discus and hammer in college, played professional women’s football, and ran numerous races before then, but this was a different kind of strong.  This is a strength that has carried me through the past year and has completely changed my view of my body and its capabilities.

As a woman who has struggled with her weight off and on her whole life, it is so easy for me to be hard on myself and to feel inadequate.   In the past I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be someone I’m not, and let me tell you, that begins to suck at your soul!  What I learned last year, both during pregnancy and post-partum, is that our minds often stops us from achieving greatness and we have to get out of our body’s way!

Before pregnancy I kept saying, “just 10 more pounds! Then we can try to get pregnant”.  Month after month I allowed my fear of the unknown stop me from what has become my greatest blessing.  What my body showed me last year is that it knows what it’s doing and I just have to fuel it to the best of my ability and enjoy the world around me through movement.

Even postpartum, it’s amazing to see how your body changes and adjusts to your new lifestyle (hello sleep deprivation!).  The key for me this past year has been to be proud of who I am, to appreciate how strong my body is, and to not allow fear to keep me from my heart’s desires.  Life is just too short to be that hard on yourself.

Whether you’re thinking of training for a long race, starting a master’s degree, creating a blog, losing weight, or having a baby, stop allowing fear to keep you from what you’re fully capable of achieving!  Sure there will be highs and there will be lows, that’s life, but you are fully capable of achieving what you set your mind to!  Remember, you are strong and you are beautiful!

Next Angelena Marie from Happy, Healthy and Balanced gives us a glimpse inside her personal journey to find her strength within. Like many of us, she struggled with body image issues but with the support of her family and close friends she became strong enough to fight those negative thoughts. Here is Angelena’s lovely story of strength.

As a woman and a mother I know how important it is to look inside and find your strength.  In all my years of growing up and trying to navigate who I am in this world the one constant has been my relationship with fitness.  I started working out and playing sports in high school.  I loved the way running, lifting weights and playing tennis made me feel.  Unfortunately that was not enough to keep me safe from an eating disorder.  It is hard as a young woman to look at yourself and say “I am perfect, I am enough”.   I was just trying to fit in and make it through high school.  After about a year long struggle with anorexia, with the help of my mom, guidance counselor and best friends I was able to overcome it and see that what I was doing was harmful.

Then came college, where I really flourished!  I was able to attend classes, join a sorority, work part time as a nanny and still workout.  I finally felt like I was able to find who I was.  I didn’t worry as much about my weight, but just about staying healthy and living the fun college life.  It was here that I met my future husband; we moved in together after school and got married shortly after.

Fast forward to today, I am a work from home mother of a 3 year old little girl.  I am now a personal trainer and healthy living blogger.  After I had my little one, I did have some pregnancy weight to lose.  However, this time around I was much kinder to myself and give myself the time I needed to get my body back to where it was.  I feel that becoming a mother has really changed the way I look at myself and my body.  I have learned not to look in the mirror and nit-pick all the little things I don’t like, but to stand proud and know that my body was strong enough to grow and birth the most special little person.

I now workout regularly from home, where my daughter watches and joins in.  I want to make sure I am setting a good example for her.  I don’t want her to look in the mirror and think the things I used to.  I want her to see her mom workout, eat healthy (with some treats of course) and really love the person that she has become.  I find that the older I get the less I worry so much about what I look like, but what kind of person I am.  I want to be happy, strong, kind and love this wonderful life I have been blessed with.  Becoming who you are meant to be and loving every part of who you are, to me that is strength!