Monday, August 30, 2010

Live Your Life with Health & Purpose

Every Monday I’ve committed to posting an inspirational quote on our Facebook Page to motivate and empower friends of the Body Beautiful by Allegra to be their very best. Today’s quote comes from the early 20th century "Sleeping Prophet" Edgar Cayce. Mr. Cayce was known to go into trances and access the Akashic Records and through visions located portions of the lost city of Atlantis and saw advancements in treatments for cancer that are currently being used today. While reading his story, I came across the following statement that came as a result of one of his Akashic visions

‎"Do not worry as to whether you are fat or thin. Worry rather as to whether you use your body mentally and physically, as an expression of thy ideal."

This thought was very relevant to the purpose and mission of the Body Beautiful programs. In my workshops and classes, the emphasis is not on size, and fitness from an aesthetic perspective, but rather fitness from a mind, body, spirit perspective. It’s one that advocates health and a strong sense of self no matter your size. Not everyone was meant to be a size “2”, some were meant to be a size “16” and that’s okay. It’s our body types that dictate our size. As a woman in the fitness industry, I at one time was plagued by the fitness stereotypes. Although men could be muscular, the women needed to be “teeny tiny” Barbie-types who believe that all women should be teeny tiny and never lift more than 5lbs. I remember a few years back during a commercial casting, where I was being casted as a Personal Trainer, I was told that my arms were too muscular and that as an African-American woman with strong arms they would intimidate viewers especially in the Midwest. Although I was casted for the role, the wardrobe stylist nevertheless was required to find a loose fitting jacket for me with ¾ length sleeves to attempt to hide my arms. The ironic thing about that event was that, I was a personal trainer casted to play a personal trainer who was working with a client to strengthen and tone her arms. That was a very strange incident for me as many of my clients at that time, no matter the ethnicity, came to me because they wanted arms or a lower body sculpted like mine. What was even more ironic about that situation was that the casting director as well as the other women on her team hounded me for workout tips to sculpt their arms like mine during the commercial shoot. Go figure!

There were times when I would severely diet down and kill myself at the gym with grueling twice a day/7 days a week workouts to achieve a certain look that was more “media friendly”. Although certain advertisers loved it, I wasn’t happy because I was putting my body through extremes that weren’t sustainable. Reality hit me when a few of my students and clients asked me if I was feeling okay, and wondered if I was having any health issues, because to them, I no longer looked healthy and my disposition wasn’t as “sunny” as was typical for me. In truth I wasn’t. I have and have always had a naturally athletic build so this change was beginning to become a detriment to my overall health physically, spiritually and mentally. At one time I may have used my role in fitness as means to gain media spotlight from an ego standpoint, but over the years as I’ve matured, I realize that it’s not about me. The opportunity that I have is to empower people to be their VERY BEST with fitness being the medium that is used. It’s not about ego, it’s about purpose.

Many of us strive to reach high levels of success in our careers and chosen paths in life, but in the absence of a strong body, a strong mind and a strong spirit, that success is for naught. You won’t be around to really enjoy the fruits of your labor. Fitness is not about accomplishing a certain look to meet a societal ideal; it’s about being healthy and living a better quality of life.

Today I am very comfortable with my size, I continually fluctuate between a “6” and an “8”, but that’s what works well for ME. At a size 4, I’m no longer healthy. As long as people continue to question how old I really am, as long as medical professionals continue to take my vitals twice because they think they’ve made a mistake the first time around because my numbers are so low, as long as my body heals and recovers a rapid rates after an injury or surgery, and as long as my doctor and others tell me to continue what I’m doing to encourage others to live better because it makes their jobs easier ;-) I’m good. But the most important thing for me is when someone says, “thank you for teaching me how to live” The Body Beautiful by Allegra is about “creating, positive, realistic and healthy body images” It’s not about taking you from a size 22 to a size 2 in 30 days. It’s not about making you look like the starlets seen on the red carpet. It’s about helping to cultivate a strong sense of self and making you feel good about yourself from the inside out while being healthy in the process. It’s about transforming life and living your life’s purpose.

To your health and to your purpose!