Open letter to the girl who...

To the girl who forgot what it’s like to feel strong…
To the girl who believes her days of confidence are behind her…
To the girl who feels overwhelmed by unattainable beauty standards…
To the girl trying to feel settled in a culture that says “you’ll never be enough”…
To the girl who buries her emotions in food…
To the girl who feels like a fake when she walks into the gym...
To the girl who constantly tells her insecurities to “shut up” and quit taking up headspace…
To the girl who looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognize herself…

I see you. I get you. And I think if we’re being honest we’ve all been one of those girls at one time or another, right? Maybe you’re still one of those girls today. Maybe one of those phrases really stung as you read it. To be honest, there's not a whole lotta reason why I'm writing to you today other than in hopes that maybe you don't feel alone. Or maybe that some of what I'm saying here resonates with you and your "me too" helps you realize that there's more room for you to love the body you've been given. I preach freedom and always encourage people to open up and share their story so I have to do that too. I hope this challenges you, encourages you, gives you some hope, and gets you thinking about how you can love yourself better. Because I really believe you're worth it.

See, from age 5 to 21, I was an athlete. From soccer to gymnastics to basketball to track and eventually to track in college, sports were my thing. They were my home, one of my favorite parts of my life. Truly, they was all I knew. I loved having a competitive edge and genuinely enjoyed working out, especially because I had a group of people doing it with me. But fast forward to the spring of 2013...

I hung my track spikes up after a year of rehabbing from a terrible knee injury (I tore all the things-ACL, MCL, lateral & medial Meniscus, yikes) and without warning, my life looked really different. I went from having a coach telling me when to work out, how to work out, how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, day-in-and-day-out, to having to find my own new normal. Have y'all been there?

Until age 21, I had never struggled with self-image or food. I know that's a blessing because I know so many girls/women who have different stories. After I quit track I completely went against everything I learned when it came to taking care of my body. It was such a relief to be free from the rigidity of eating like an athlete and working out for hours on end everyday that I just stopped those things all together. Honestly my eating didn't really change but because I wasn't working out for 2-3 hours everyday, I started seeing that I was never necessarily fueling my body in the best way.

For the next two years, the daily dialogue I had with myself changed. It became less and less positive everyday and eventually got to the point where I was telling myself things like, "You'll never be as strong as you were in college.", "your best days are behind you, Marissa.", "It's all downhill from here. You'll never feel confident or strong in this body again." And you know what the saddest part of this was? I really began to believe these lies. Praise the Lord I woke up one day and realized how sad this was and how untrue these things were. So I finally did something about it...

My good friend introduced me to a nutritional re-balancing system and I told her a year and a half prior that I would never try it. I was always against "those things". But I got to a point where I was willing to try anything because I knew my body needed a change so I finally said yes. And you know what? I saw changes in my body within the first few weeks. My energy changed. My confidence rose and rose. It was the first time that I realized that true health isn’t depriving yourself of experiences or constantly sacrificing but learning how to fuel my body well. 

The physical changes were (and still are) great but what you couldn’t see was the hope rising inside that my best days were ahead, not behind. You couldn’t see the surge of confidence I felt when I realized that strong, competitive, healthy Marissa was here all along. You couldn’t see the gratitude that overwhelmed me when I realized that I found something that worked, that promoted true balance. Here we are about two years later and I'm still using that same system everyday and loving it more and more each day.

Life isn’t about scales or deprivation or beauty standards; it’s about finding what fits into the lifestyle you want, it’s about what promotes being healthy from the inside out, and it’s about what pushes you to be the best version of you.

So let me ask you this, when is the last time you did something for yourself? When is the last time you bet on yourself and took a risk to better your health (whether physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally). If it's been a while, get in touch with me! I'm cheering you on in that endeavor. And if what you read here today sparked a curiosity or it resonated and you want to get in on this newish lifestyle and you're serious about changing your physical health, you've got options and I'm happy to share what I've found works for me!

Until next time,
Maris