I have never been a size zero! I was a gymnast, strong as an ox with big powerful thighs in tow. The media continues to change the narrative on women and what our bodies need to look like. Sometimes we need to be rail thin and other times we have to be curvy and thick. It's freaking exhausting and totally unattainable. I have gone on such a journey with my own body and I think we need to break down all the barriers and have a real conversation about loving our bodies where they are. So, let's talk about body image. Obviously this is a hot button topic for women and I feel like it's only gotten more prevalent as I've gotten older and as we've progressed in our society. So let's dive into it, shall we?
I remember my first kind of moment when someone called me the f-word, F-A-T (I do use that word), it was in 6th grade and it was a kid named Michael. Obviously I still remember it- even though that was a long time ago. I can still see his face as he called me thunder thighs. I was a gymnast, I worked out four times a day, totally in shape, but you know gymnasts have strong muscular bodies, and he called me thunder thighs. I remember that being the first time I was like oh, shoot, and you know my self-confidence was crushed. I became self-conscious that maybe my thighs were too big.
Fast forward to college, I was never the skinny minnie. I'm never ,realistically, going to be size 0 or size 2 or size 4. Genetics obviously make up a big piece of all of our bodies, which we seem to forget, and everything was fine in college. You know, you kind of look at girls, and your girlfriends, and it's challenging when you wish you were a size 2.
After college, I dove into group fitness, because I had worked out my whole life. I was a competitive gymnast, then a competitive cheerleader, and then went to college and took yoga classes and group fitness classes, and as soon as I graduated I really dove into it. I moved to Charlotte, and they had a really cool fitness scene and I just loved it.
When I moved back to Columbia, I decided I wanted to be a group fitness instructor, so I did and I truly loved it. It was this hard internal struggle ofwhat am I supposed to look like? Should I have a six pack? Should my arms be ripped to the point where you're thinking, “Oh yeah she works out.” Should I have zero body fat? I mean zero body fat is unrealistic, but you know a low body fat count. I'm not sure that's even attainable for my body, but you have all these things going through your head.
Fast forward even further, I opened my own fitness studio, times 2, and I teach class to teach class every day, still to this day. There were moments of thinking, “yes, I'm killing it." When I opened my very first studio, we were doing classes around the clock, and I was in all of them and that was probably the best shape of my life I've ever been in. I felt really confident, really good, and then you know cruel tricks. Life threw me not one, but two curveballs, and I got pregnant twins not long after that.
I’m not cute as a pregnant person, I'm not one of those people. I remember one of my clients during my first pregnancy, I was pregnant with a girl and one of the other instructors was pregnant with a boy, and we were only due like a few days apart, and the client said, “Oh, it must be true that when you're pregnant with a boy you're just like a little basketball when you're pregnant with a girl you just really gain it all over.” And I thought oh, thank you for boosting my confidence.
I was pregnant with the twins and obviously just got bigger and bigger and bigger and with less movement in my body, because physically it hurt to do movement. After they were born, it was a body that I did not recognize and that was hard. I got back on the mic to teach and I remember there was just fluff and stuff and all the places I was not used to. I felt so uncomfortable standing in front of that room in spandex, mind you, and it really took a toll on my heart and my mind. For the next little while, my happiness coincided with how I looked.
I remember one time I didn't even want to tell somebody what I did for a living because I thought they would say, “My gosh she owns a fitness studio? She teaches fitness?” A lot of internal things that you don't really want to share with people because it breaks you. One of my friends, he was in fitness as well and he said, “Don't you feel like people relate to you because you're more real and you're not some size 00, you know fitness instructor?” I don't know. I hope so, because I feel like I'm as strong as an ox, but I will continue to drink wine and I will continue to have carbs. I think life is meant to be enjoyable and I'm not going to restrict and restrict so I can find some perfect image.
Let's dive into perfect images. I did this talk with a bunch of sororities in my hometown, and I pulled images to show them. There's this image of what the “perfect body” is through different decades. It is amazing how different these images look. One decade there is a very voluptuous, tiny waist, large boobs, large hiney. The next decade, and it's very thin, no boobies, no hiney, and it says, “man like figure.” It just goes all over the board. I asked these women, “How in the world are you supposed to keep up with this?” I'm 38, close to 40, so that would be almost four different decades of life, where every decade you are supposed to change and morph into what the “ideal body image” is. That's absurd. I couldn't change the fact that I am totally blessed with a powerful hiney, let's call it a powerful hiney not a large one, it's powerful and if the next decade when I turn 40 all of a sudden butts aren’t in anymore, there's not a darn thing I can do about it. It's there and it's not going away, so this whole struggle continues and you feel like there is nothing you can do.
I lost weight after I had my last baby, and there's a guy who I know very well, and he said, “Oh man, you look great.” I said oh thanks, and he said “After you lost the baby weight, don't you feel better? Now you look like a fitness instructor.” My face went totally blank. It was one of those moments you wish you had some snotty, rude comeback to say but you're so blown over by the comment you have no words. Then you think about it later, and you wish you would have said 100 different things.
I did a comparison photo where I put the same shirt on, it's this pink fitted tank that I wore in a promotional photo shoot for my fitness studio when I first opened it, when I was in the best shape I've ever been in. I put that same tank on after I lost a bunch of weight, after I had my last baby, and let me just tell you, it doesn't look the same. Life and years change your body, and my body in my early 30s and my body in my late 30s are not going to be the same. In a decade of life we've gone through a lot of things, and a lot of things that are hard on your body.
You only get one body and you have to be thankful for all that it does for you. My body does a ton for me. I am on the move all day every day, and I teach classes every day. I need to remember that and I hope all of this sharing helps you to remember that about your own body.
The other piece of this, yes you'll have the random comments like the lady saying I gained weight everywhere as a pregnant person, or Michael calling me thunder thighs or asking if I feel better now that I’m a fitness instructor. But, the people who you encounter, who you keep close to you, the people that love you and you call friends, are not for your flaws. I know that the people I surround myself with are instead looking at all the positive things about me. I call it the rose colored glasses, when you look at one of your friends or somebody in your family, you are looking at them and thinking about all the positive things. Like, your hair looks great today, your makeup is pretty, I love your outfit. It's thinking about all the fun wonderful things, and then when we look at ourselves in the mirror, for some reason we throw those rose colored glasses across the room and put on these glasses that are laser focused onto the negative aspects of ourselves.
We are really hard on ourselves as women, and this obviously has just continued to grow overtime, and if we could just slowly chip away at this then maybe we would feel comfortable in our own skin again. If you think about it, what does a college girl look like, what does a fitness owner look like, what does a mom look like, what does a business person look like, there's no encyclopedia saying that's if you're a mom you have to look like this, if you're a college student this is what you have to look like. These are your specs, this is your hair color. Life would be so boring if we all were the same, and we have to get that out of our brains. There is no perfect image of what we should look like, what we should be, how we should act.
If you tie that back to authenticity and finding the best version of you, do you feel healthy? Do you feel strong? Do you feel happy? If you can answer those questions yes, then you roll with it. There's always things we can improve but I think you just have to take them down. You know, like there's cellulite on the backside of my thighs, what's that going to do for you if you get rid of it? Truly, what is it gonna do for you? I would much rather at the end of the day, on my headstone it say, “Lauren Truslow, she was an amazing friend, a wonderful mother, the best wife, philanthropist, great business owner.” I mean your tombstone, it's not going to say, “Lauren Truslow, thank goodness she works so hard to get the Cellulite off her ass.”
It is so important that you are aware of the circles that you keep. You need to be really selective on who you spend your time with. We went to dinner last night with some friends and we had the best time. Lots of laughs, lots of wine. We ordered all this different crazy food and I just thought, I have seen some people that when you go to dinner, it's barely a bite of this barely that. Obviously you can't celebrate every day of your life, it would not be the best for our bodies either, but I do think you need to surround yourself with people that you can be real with. That you can laugh and have a steak and a glass of red wine with, but then everything in moderation. You have got to create that balance.
When I go into workout, I will not wear a watch or anything that counts the calorie burn. I think that is just some sort of mind work that has also been placed upon us. I think we need to start changing our surroundings, people wise, technology wise, so that you are set up for success. At the end of my workout I don't need to know how many calories I burned, I need to know did I get a good sweat? Do I feel good? Do I feel centered and strong and powerful? Yeah. That's what you should feel at the end of your workout. When you have a really healthy salad for lunch do you feel good? Yeah, great. Do you feel good when you put on your jeans? Great. Does it matter if they are a size 8? No, it doesn't.
All of this said, body image is a crazy roller coaster of emotions, but I think if we set up the pillars of support, people, places. When I walk in my studio, thunder thighs and all, they love me and they never would look at me and say, “man her thighs.” They look at me for me, and they love me and that is what I want for all of us, because I feel like when we're all in that better mental headspace we're all nicer humans and we all project positive energy into the world.
Your homework today is to go look in the mirror, and I want you to think or write down, because I do think writing and a paper is huge, write down three things that you love about yourself. I want you to look at the glass half full and not the glass half empty, and take that road to positivity when you look at yourself in the mirror. It is challenging, but if you continue to do it day by day and chip away all those negative notions that we have built up over the last few years, I think we can break that wall back down. I love you all, love yourself, be confident and have a great day.
About The Podcast
Lauren Truslow is the mom who shows up in sweaty spandex, and she’s not afraid to own it. In this podcast, she shares her experience as a fitness studio owner and instructor who’s spent the past decade birthing businesses and babies in a culture that wants to break women down and say they’re not enough.
She’s over that, and you should be, too!
Join Lauren as she gets real on deleting impossible standards, embracing what’s real, and turning up the positivity in the life you want to live. Whether you’re a student, mom, working woman, or fear you’re entering a post-spandex phase of life, she’s here to remind you that the world out there is yours to own—stretchy pants included.
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