Above: Crystal before her first yoga class a few months ago. Below: A more recent photo taken after a workout.
I am a proud mama. The other day, my four-year-old daughter conquered her fear of putting her head under the water at the swimming pool. After six months of swimming lessons, Bella was confident in the pool but refused to dunk her head. We tried everything — but once our headstrong girl has her mind set on something no amount of pleading will change it. The other day was her last swim class and she still refused to go under. After class the instructor told us that Bella mastered every skill needed to go on to the next level — but without submerging her head she was going to have to repeat the class. My husband and I gave Bella hugs, told her how proud we are of the skills she gained during this round of classes and then we climbed into the water together for a family swim.
After half an hour of splashing around, my husband and Bella started playing catch with a ball. Back and forth they went until one throw was out of Bella's reach. Without thinking she dove for the ball and her head went under the water. She popped back up, stopped for a moment to think and then a big smile spread across her face. She turned, looked at me and said "Mommy, I'm not afraid to put my head under the water anymore. Look!" She dove under the water again (and again and again) and two hours later a lifeguard re-evaluated her and said she was more than ready to go on to the next level of swim lessons.
The moment my daughter said those three little words "I'm not afraid" I had my inspiration for this week's Healthy Family Challenge post. Fear can hold us back from setting and obtaining goals, and it's something we need to be able to identify and overcome.
I took the above photo the day after I bought my gym membership. I was getting ready to leave for yoga class and was so nervous I felt sick to my stomach. I hadn't taken a yoga class since high school and the idea of trying it in front of a room full of strangers had my stomach in knots. Negative thoughts kept running through my head "What if I was the worst in the class? Was everyone in class going to be super skinny and be expert yogis dressed in Lululemon? What would my teacher and classmates think of me?" I faced my fear and forced myself to go. I was so glad I did. Not only did the act of yoga make my body feel good, I felt proud of myself for overcoming my fear. I now look forward to every class.
Two days later I faced the same feelings as I headed to the gym for the first time. Again, negative thoughts filled my head: "Will I look stupid if I don't know how to run the machines? What if I work out for 10 minutes, am a sweaty, panting mess and can't do any more? Will I be the fattest person at the gym? Will all the fit people look down their nose at me?" Again, I faced my fear and forced myself to go. I worked out for an hour and left feeling great. And do you know what? I may as well have been invisible for how little anyone cared about how I looked or what my skill level was. Now I go to the gym three to four times a week. Most of the time I look forward to it, occasionally I dread it, but rarely do I feel nervous. Once you conquer your fear each time you repeat the activity it gets easier and easier.
I think it's normal, to have these fears and insecurities. Sitting here I can think of a million of them — like wearing a bathing suit in public while still carrying my baby belly. Going to a clothing store for the first time and wondering if they carry clothes that will fit. Writing a blog post for Today's Parent and wondering if it is good enough. Starting my own blog Sew Creative. Even simple things like having a photo taken without any makeup on or trying a new meal like kale and lentil soup. I think it's how we overcome and conquer those fears that defines us and makes us role models for our children.
This second picture was taken after a recent workout. Normally I would cringe at the photo — I'm a sweaty makeup-less mess. I'm proud of it though, because it reminds me of how far I've come in the last few months. I've conquered fears that held me back from being the best me that I can be. And maybe, just maybe, overcoming my own fears helped my daughter on the road to overcoming her own.
Do you have a fear or insecurity that you have overcome recently or want to overcome? I would love for you to share!