DARING TO BARE

Wedding week is officially upon us, and you can expect to hear more about that in a few days. Fun fact: Ben proposed a year ago today. (Gotta love those people in the background just don't GAF.) It's going to be radio silence around here next week, so I'm going to try to post as much as possible this week to make up for it. But for now, I have to talk about the amazing experience that was the Movemeant Foundation Dare To Bare.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous to share these photos... my figure is far from perfect, and people can be so judgmental. But I'm proud of my body and its imperfections, and yesterday reminded me why.

I've never had feminine curves... I have no waist, no hips, and a small chest. I think that I used to believe that if I worked out "hard" enough or did things a certain way, I would achieve a little teeny tiny waist. It's kind of maddening to put on a swimsuit and wonder if my hard work has paid off. It is endlessly frustrating to me that no matter what I do: cardio; weights; strength training; barre/Pilates; I still look sort of the same: shapeless. But what I've learned this year is that there are some things I can't change. I can't change my body type. I can't change my appetite so that my body looks a certain way.  I live life loudly. I work hard and I play hard. I lead an active life and I eat a LOT. And looking around yesterday at a sea of happy, healthy women, I was reminded that every body is different and that you should work out because you love your body, not because you hate it.

I'm proud to have raised $854 for the Movemeant Foundation. I was in the top 20 individual fundraisers (#19) and was thrilled to ride next to my sister (who raised over $600) in the second row. This money will fund individual, group, school and community grants to further fitness, movement and positive body image in womens' lives. (Read more here.) If you EVER have the chance to take an "indoor" cycling class outside, I cannot recommend it enough. It's a totally different experience. The energy was explosive and I had the biggest smile on face from start to finish.

SoulCycle classes are held in dark studios and while the music is often fun, the undertones of the class tend to be more serious, with motivational quips about inhaling intention and exhaling expectation. But when you take away the stage, the light dimmer and those four walls and add in the unexpected elements of a public park with a live DJ and staring passersby (including a man wearing white pants with a giant red stain on the crotch area holding up a sign that said "Circumcision Kills") everything kind of changes. I really appreciated that the focus of this particular class was on fun, acceptance, positivity and inspiration. It wasn't solely about pushing yourself and getting your sweat on. In between songs, we were encouraged to high five and "cheers" one another with our water bottles.

The instructors each had their own reasons for being there. Ayana Curtis, a SoulCycle master instructor, was modeling positive body image to her young daughter, who rode proudly in the front row (and is just as gorgeous as her mother). Olivia Ward, a SoulCycle instructor and the season 11 winner of The Biggest Loser, gave birth to her first child seven weeks ago and talked about how in the past five years she's lost 50% of her body weight and gained 110% of her life back. Jenny Gaither, a senior SoulCycle instructor and the founder of Movemeant talked about why she started all of this in the first place: because she was sick of feeling uncomfortable in her own skin and decide to help herself and others by creating a new standard of beauty: one with no "standards" at all. Their anecdotes really personalized the experience; it was a truly thoughtful class.

This last image is from the Movemeant Foundation Instagram. I enlarged it which is why it's blurry. Do you see me? (Yes, I changed hairstyles halfway through the ride.)

I am so grateful to everyone who supported me and donated to my page. A huge thank you to my sister, Perri, for doing this with me and to Ayana, Jenny and Olivia for being such vibrant, fearless leaders. It was a wonderful day and I'm already looking forward to next year.