Have you ever looked in the mirror and not recognized yourself? Or seen a picture and thought, I must have stumbled into some bad lighting or struck a bad pose because that is not what I look like! Then the realization smashes into you like a ton of bricks. That person staring back – the one who looks weak and unhappy – is me.
That’s the realization I had one morning waking up after the holidays. After gathering up enough willpower to get out of bed, I hopped in the shower, and then picked out that one outfit. You know, the one that makes you feel like a million bucks. But this time it didn’t quite fit, and I felt like a stuffed sausage. My heart sank and I plastered the happy mask on to cover the self-doubt and exhaustion.
I am a business owner. I was burning the candle at both ends, trying to be the positive beacon of light for my team and family. But what I realized at this point was that my business needed the real me. Not this shell of a version I was trapped in. I was so driven and focused on motivating others, I had forgotten the best motivation comes from showing and not telling.
I decided 2018 would be “the year of Jackie” and I decided to prioritize myself over the bad habits that were costing me. Instead of a new year’s resolution, I made a mantra to remind myself to make a conscious investment to live in the moment. Each day, I said to myself: “Be the hustling, hardworking awesome ray of light.”
I wanted to look in the mirror and see it. I wanted to feel like me again, not this imposter. The weight was just a veil shielding my light.
“Even when it’s not pretty or perfect. Even when it’s more real than you want it to be. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.” Michelle Obama
My best friend was doing Ferrell’s and with how busy both our lives had gotten we were seeing less and less of each other. So, I decided it was time. I am an all-in or all out kind of gal. I decided to throw my heart and soul into it. It was weird though; with that decision I still had doubt – and dare I say guilt – for prioritizing me. What if I miss out on a family dinner or work cocktail hour and lose the solid client and family relationships I had been investing in? Wouldn’t this take away from those that needed me? I shoved those feelings in my gym bag and headed out.
Day one, I barely made it through the class. As a former high school athlete and someone who was a part of a bootcamp style gym in my 20s, my expectations of myself were high. When I was walking to my car being way too hard on myself, my best friend turned and said, “Can’t wait to see you tomorrow." And just like that, all the guilt and self-doubt melted away. Even if I didn’t lose a pound, I was looking forward to spending time with my friend EVERY DAY and gaining that swagger back.
What I didn’t have in patience I more than made up for with persistence in the gym and kitchen, following the nutrition guide, meal prepping and keeping up on workouts. With a demanding work schedule, it wasn’t easy. I had to gradually undo my years-long tendency of letting stress control my choices. From coffee when I woke up, to wine before bed.
Ten weeks in, after following through 100%, I was seeing results. I was down 4.5% in bodyfat and 15 lbs. Feeling pride in the progress, I kept going. You only fail if you quit.
With my best friend and new workout tribe, new food plan to fuel my brain and body, and the ironclad will to stay grounded, I signed up for Fit. Though a year-and-a-half later I have yet to win a single contest, the journey has taught me to set different types of goals and to relish and share my successes with those around me. The fat came off and the muscle built up.
To date, I have lost 70lbs and 22% bodyfat, gained significant strength and performance; but most of all, I unleashed my spark. I see myself in the mirror again. In photos my real smile shines through. FXB Bellevue has provided me with the tools and support to find myself and have the confidence to show it. So, while I have never won a single competition at Ferrell’s, I have gained much more. I have a tribe that pushes me but also encourages me to give myself some grace. That inner voice full of doubt slowly changed from you can’t, to maybe you can, to failing isn’t an option.
What I feared might interfere with my work at Bozell actually ended up improving it. In a fast-paced advertising agency, it is easy to get lost in your own head and dwell on others’ expectations. I have found if I take time away – not for days or weeks but even an hour to do something completely different – when I come back to it, I can see the opportunity through the problems. I am able to adapt and adjust on the fly. I can’t tell you how many times when kickboxing I have punched and kicked my way to an open mind. In those moments of physical exertion, you are only able to focus on the now. I find burnout comes when I am too fixated on the past or future. If I can recalibrate to living in the moment throughout the day – like when I’m kickboxing – it helps my focus and energy.
It isn’t about work-life balance. Balance is bull. If you are passionate about what you do and are rooted in why you do it, it is about work-life integration. And understanding when you need to get grounded to be the best possible version of yourself.
There has been a shift in my focus and my family, team and clients have felt it. Since starting Ferrell’s I have had six people join me in this quest to bring back the light and feel better. Not because I asked, but because they saw the changes in me. FXB Bellevue has helped me show my friends, family, team and business partners my commitment and drive, not just tell them. It has helped me be that ray of light.
If you don’t see you anymore, know you can. There’s no magic pill. But with a bit of determination, hard work, grit and grace, the shackles will come off and your true self will shine through.
You can do this. Together we are unstoppable.
See you on the mats!