So troubling is a mirror that gives a multitude of sighs and not one single reflection, this was her mirror, the broken mirror. She looked in it daily hoping for a different view but with one deep breath as heavy as the weight of the world that laid on her shoulders, she walked away hanging her head in disappointment every time. She sloppily threw on clothes which most times were big and baggy in whatever color she grabbed. For her, she found no purpose in spending time trying to look pretty because after all, her reflection was one that did not exist and there was just no point of making the effort.
Her day was always hectic and filled with doing what she loved most...taking care of her young children, her work as a teen counselor and attending her fit camp workouts. She couldn’t deny how she admired the physiques of women that surrounded her daily and would be the first to compliment every one of them in a tone that was reflective of a little girl who wanted to be just like them when she grew up. It was such a wonder why she continued to exercise so religiously since she always felt discouraged and never satisfied with her results. If only she could see what others saw in her, if only she could see herself...and this could only be, if her mirror was not broken.
When you first meet Andrea you will be carried away by her grand enthusiasm and sincere appreciation for every moment that has yet to happen. Her smile will illuminate even the darkest days and her spirit can lift morale higher than any high school pep rally. She is simple, fit and beautiful. So how is it that this intelligent, fun, witty, athletic and vibrant woman does not hold herself in the highest of esteem? Its the ‘self’ part that she continues to trip on. Andrea spends so much time and attention on everyone around her that she has lost her ‘self’.
I remember when I launched my second Little Black Dress Challenge. Andrea was in my home and had just finished training with my husband, who is also a fitness coach. She asked me a few simple questions sounding only slightly curious but I knew those questions were more loaded than she let on. I was also in tune with how well Andrea was perceived by others and how little she thought about herself. I have witness how committed Andrea has been to her exercise regimen for years and I’ve seen her body take a healthy, fit and attractive shape but sadly, she has never seen it. Her curiosity in my 12 week challenge quickly advanced to her taking one of the 10 spots and now it was my opportunity to somehow help her with whatever was keeping her from loving, respecting and admiring herself.
Setting realistic and attainable goals are key when starting anything new. Andrea’s goals were similar to the goals of most women when they first embark on the journey of looking better. She wanted a smaller waist, a flatter stomach, sculpted arms and a smaller bottom. To me that was the easy part. As her Coach I knew the bigger challenge was getting her to truly SEE herself. When your mirror is broken it only makes sense to rely on the opinions of others but what good is that if you don’t see it yourself? My goal for Andrea was not only for her to look her best but to FEEL it.
The three objectives we needed to accomplish for Andrea to look and feel her best included:
Andrea needed to focus her attention on what she was doing not what everyone else was doing.
Andrea needed to build her self esteem.
Andrea needed to have pride in herself.
It is much easier to focus attention on others, especially if they inspire us, then it is to do the work on our ‘self’. That comes with great risk though including not working towards, not reaching and not surpassing our potential. When you are too busy watching what everyone else is doing, it leaves little to no time for self improvements. On a daily basis, Andrea was now using her journal to track her nutrition and her workouts, something she had not done before with any consistency. What this does, is it helps her stay focused on what she is doing and helps her stay on track which in turn, will result in her achieving her goals. Absolutely we will have others that motivate and inspire us but when you finally get into your own zone and you are feeling great about your own accomplishments, there is no telling how far you will go & what you are capable of. This is what Andrea started to learn for herself during the Little Black Dress Challenge.
High self esteem for some, can be so elusive. Some may be perplexed with why their self esteem is low and wonder, where did it all go wrong? What changed me? It very well could be from past experiences but it certainly doesn’t have to persist into the future. In Andrea’s case, we needed to focus on building her self-esteem. The best way to build confidence is to set goals and accomplish them. As Andrea stay true to her nutrition, exercise and accountability plan week after week, there was a noticeable difference in her demeanor. She was feeling better about herself and being vocal about her accomplishments and that she was feeling good about her ‘self’. The physical results are always the consequence. She loved suffering the physical consequences of a tighter mid section and more sculpted physique but it was her confidence that made her light shine brighter than ever.
Whether your confidence is up or down will determine how you dress. So many women will wear baggy clothing if they are not feeling good about themselves but this only makes them feel worse. Andrea was no different. She often worked out in baggy shorts and big t-shirts and its no wonder she looked at everyone else’s physique...she couldn’t see her own hiding under that mess! Wearing fitness clothes that fits properly and visually appealing will help increase motivation, allows you to see your muscles working and affords you the chance to celebrate as you see your body changing. Andrea began wearing more fitted fitness attire and it made a world of difference in her self perception. She had an extra pep in her step and held her chin a bit higher every workout. Even before the 12 week Little Black Dress Challenge was over, Andrea saw herself in a different light, a positive light.
Andrea did win the 12 week challenge and achieved her physical goals of a leaner and tighter physique but it pales in comparison to the reflection she now sees. This healing road she is now traveling has helped her to see what others had been seeing in her for years, her beauty from the inside out. The broken mirror is no more. She not only sees herself but her reflection in the eyes of her children, her husband and all who love her. They are her mirror and now she reflects love.
By Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women