What Do You Inspire?

I like to meet other people who work in health and fitness – especially those who work from a Behavior-Centered Health model.  A friend of mine, Dave,  tried to introduce me to the owner of a gym, we’ll call him Gary. Dave described me and my physically size saying that I was pretty big.  Gary was confused about why we were being introduced and immediately said “We wouldn’t want a trainer who was really big”.  Ostensibly because I would be a poor example.  Dave told me the story and I shrugged it off – certainly not the first time that I’ve been told that being a successful, healthy, fat athlete is setting a bad example.   That same night I was at one of the Eating Disorder Facilities where I teach dance classes.  I found out that the girls had named me to their list of Role Models.  One of them told me that I was her hero. These are girls and women who have body dymorphia and an irrational fear of being fat.  And I, at 5’4 284 pounds, I made their list of role models.  It took everything in my power not to cry – not just because I was honored but because those women inspire me.  They fight against near-impossible odds, they fall down over and over and they just keep getting back up.

The moral of the story here is that we don’t get to decide to whom we are an example – to whom we are an inspiration, or when.  We can only decide what we are an example of.

I’ve written before about my feelings on inspiration.  Basically, that I believe that the only way you can inspire by someone is presenting a new option – then they have to choose to walk toward or away from that option.  Then, just the other day I was watching Coach Carter (I have an unabashed love of all sports movies) and we reminded of this Marianne Williamson Quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?  Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So, my question to you is simple.  If someone were watching your life – if they were looking to you as a role model – what would you give them permission to do? Are you proud of what you are an example of?

I don’t ask this hypothetically… I can assure you that someone is looking to you.  For whatever reason – someone you know is relating to you right now and looking to you for inspiration.  What are you inspiring them to do? Face their fears?  Work as hard as they can?  Give up?  Fall down and stay d0wn?  Fall down and get up?

You don’t choose to be an inspiration or an example, you already are.  By the way that you live your life, by what you stand for, you are presenting an option to someone – something that they can walk towards or away from.  What option is that?  It depends:  What do you want it to be?  What do you stand for?  What do you choose? Who are you?

12 thoughts on “What Do You Inspire?

  1. I PROUDLY show people to live their lives as who they really are, critics be damned!! If you want to dance, then dance! If you want to wear a bikini at the beach, do it!

    You only have one life to live. Why on earth would you censor yourself or keep from having all the fun you can?

    Screw the nay-sayers. It’s their issue and they can keep it!!

  2. ps: I would like a plus-sized trainer. Virtually every time I’ve hired a trainer I’ve found that they have no experience or knowledge on who to deal with plus size bodies. They attempt to make me do things I can’t (due to injuries), and automatically hear “I can’t” as “I won’t” and start fighting me. Their lack of respect for my limits, and refusal to change up their training methods, always results in me looking for a new workout (which I found in pole dancing, which is very body positive).

  3. Hello,

    I have been a silent reader for quite some time now. Why? I’m not exactly sure. I have started some comments and then just deleted them. But this, I feel like is the perfect place for me to speak about what I know. I am a plus sized woman that uses my photography to speak about my experience with my body. I am sorry if you follow my website link, I am not up and running quite yet. I inspire honesty, I am striving to become a professor of photography. My work is personal, beautiful and for some, hard to look at. At times it’s hard to photograph your body, inspect every roll, dimple and rogue hair but because I am doing this I have felt a burden being lifted off of me. I have stopped ignoring my reflection from the neck down, I feel I see myself now. I hope that anyone in any field that they are striving for can see what I am doing, find their voice and use it, even though it’s scary sometimes.

    Thank you for your words especially. They reinforce the strength I have to find sometimes.

    Best Wishes,
    Brittney Cathey-Adams

    P.S. I am working on my wordpress so hopefully you can see what I’m talking about soon.

    1. Hi Brittney,

      I’m glad that you liked the post and that you commented. From what you said I’m really excited to see your work. Keep me posted when it’s ready and I’ll see if I can put something in my newsletter. I think that it is amazing and brave to use your photography in that way – way to kick ass! You can e-mail me at danceswithfat@yahoo.com

  4. That’s kind of my approach to life these days. I want to try to be someone who by living the best life I can with the tools I have, not only so that my own life is positive and abundant, but so that other’s learn that they too can have lives that are positive and abundant.

    If people get something from that, then that’s fantastic. But I have no time for the people who try to drag others down with negativity and assumptions.

    Thanks for being an excellent role model yourself.

  5. Yes, I have begun to see myself as a role model and have shared my life with this new community that I am now a part of because I opened my cafe here. I have customers who are now friends. Some I share everything with and many only a little. I have found though, that the more I share the more people open up and share, too. I was especially touched yesterday when one of my fave customers gave me a copy of a book he illustrated. He inscribed it, “For Sarah- without who’s wonderful coffee this book would have never been completed!” I was so touched. I love him and his family. I also had a customer who is a psych major and when I told her my background story if you will, she said I was shero! WOW!

  6. Right post at the right time:) I am struggling right now to do the right thing and need to be sort of person I want to look up to, and darned if this isn’t just the kick I needed.


    1. Glad I could be there. Awesome that you found a way to kick yourself when you needed it. Good luck!

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