I met Tonya many years ago when I was teaching in the kinesiology department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Tonya is soft spoken but don’t let that food you. She is extremely knowledgeable and a force in the industry.
Here’s her story:
How do I fight for my well-being? Daily. It’s something I learn about constantly. And my knowledge doesn’t come from the outside world, it comes from within. Sure, I like to stay up-to-date on the latest health research and there is certainly a place for that. But I’m talking about the inner voice.
As a teen and young adult, my inner voice was cruel, shaming me for my bodily imperfections. As I’ve grown as an adult, I’ve decided true beauty and wellness aren’t based on our measurements. It starts with our minds and can transform us. It’s about loving ourselves, fueling our bodies for health and strength, making time for active fun and also relaxation. And letting go of the worldly expectations placed on women.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease 16 years ago. You won’t notice it by looking at me. But I struggle at times and have to take extra good care of myself. It’s helped teach me that my health is precious.
Life’s not perfect, but it is a gift. And I choose to make health a priority. Some days are better than others; I’m certainly not perfect. Of course there are days I don’t get my workout in and there are days I still let the shaming voices in. But my approach to health is not all-or-nothing. I don’t shatter my goals due to a minor setback. I breathe and wake up to a new day. I realize I’m unique and perfectly imperfect. I continue making time for my health.
I have two young daughters who love to dance and run and play. They enjoy being strong and having fun. I learn from them as I see truth in their innocence. Live life. Love life. Be you. And accept the person who you are. I think one of the greatest gifts we can give our daughters is the gift of self-acceptance and self-love. You never know who’s watching and learning from you.
There’s no magic pill or diet plan. Those only increase body shaming and the drive for unattainable perfection. There’s loving yourself and taking care of yourself. From that, you’ll want to be active and make healthier choices. Healthy choices aren’t punishment for “bad behavior or eating”. Build a healthy relationship with food and with yourself first. And put those airbrushed perfection goals out of your mind. Choose health. The rest will follow.