Fashlete™ of the Month

Accepting Ourselves and Wanting More

March 2012

Name: Shanna Tokarsky

ccupation: AdvoCare Advisor, CrossFit Coach, Digital Marketing Lead

A little background... 

Last month Stephanie Vincent of Radical Hateloss hosted the second  Ladies Discussion Series RX - Real Conversations About Living Our Own Version of "As Prescribed".  I was invited on as the "special guest" and had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with a diverse group of women from across the country.

First of all, how great is the name Radical Hateloss?  In a world where so many women are still obsessed with the number on the scale, Radical Hateloss is an important reminder that the problem is not always the weight we carry on our hips or in our bellies... it is the weight we carry on our shoulders.  Obsessing over the scale or clothing size is nothing but a burden.  And while it may seem like perfectly reasonable motivation to get into the gym, such an obsession can actually be detrimental to your fitness and your happiness.

The theme of our discussion was "Accepting Ourselves and Wanting More".  Stephanie and I both agreed that this topic is synonymous with "Live, Love, Lift" and embodies what Fashletics is all about: Enjoy your life, love yourself, and find your strength inside and out. 

It's not easy to simultaneously accept yourself and want more.  Trust me, I have struggled with this concept myself.  How can I accept where I am today if there is so much more I want to accomplish in the future?  I used to associate acceptance with complacency (which is absolutely not okay in my book).  I was afraid that if I accepted myself I would lose the motivation to become something even better.  I thought acceptance was a barrier to growth.  

As it turns out, the exact opposite is true.  Once you master self-acceptance, you will be able to rid yourself of the burden of doubt, negativity, and all of those thoughts of "I'm just not good enough".  You will discover a new sense of inner strength and confidence that will allow you to improve your health, fitness, and relationships.  Imagine the difference between approaching a workout and thinking, "I lifted some pretty heavy weight yesterday! I am feeling strong! I've got this!"  As opposed to, "Man, I was really off yesterday. I'm not getting any stronger. Why do I even bother?"  Which mindset do you think will allow you to have a better (and more enjoyable) workout?

At the end of the group discussion we presented the ladies with a challenge: Write your own "Self-Acceptance Principles" (instructions can be found below).  Some of the women from the series posted their principles on RadicalHateloss.com where the discussion continues.  One of the participants was so inspired by the call and the challenge that she also wrote an inspiring essay which earned her a spot here as Fashlete of the Month.

And now our Fashlete...

Shanna has gone from a "chubby" kid who felt undeserving of love, to diet-obsessed teen, to personal trainer, to first-time mom.  Throughout her many body transformations, Shanna has struggled with self-acceptance.  Like all of our Fashletes, her story is relatable and inspiring. Shanna also outlines how you can write your own Self-Acceptance Principles. 

Accepting Ourselves and Wanting More

by Shanna Tokarsky

I was part of an amazing call last night...sorry men this one was all for the ladies! This was one of the calls in The Ladies RX discussion series put on by Stephanie Vincent at Radical Hateloss.   Here's a quick overview: 

"Last night women from all over the country gathered to talk about an important topic that impacts women who CrossFit but also women in general- Accepting Ourselves & Wanting More with Special Guest Sarah Wilson of Fashletics."

We talked about the difference between acceptance and resignation, the struggle to accept and about how acceptance helps us reach our goals, possibilities, and brings the experience of joy and ease.  It was a rich conversation that could have gone on way longer than the hour of the call!   If you missed the call you can listen to below or download it here."

This topic is very near and dear to my heart. As women we have a lot of pressure to conform to what society declares as beauty. Growing up as a chubby kid I never felt like I was skinny enough to be loved. I have struggled with body image since I can remember.  Even when I lost 30lbs in High School, I still felt like the chubby girl.  In middle school, high school and  the early part of college I experimented with bulimia, anorexia and a lot of unhealthy extreme diets and diet pills. I was obsessed with getting skinny.  During my sophomore year in college, when I had gained back my 30lbs I decided to change. I started researching how to become a personal trainer so that I could learn the healthy way to "stay thin" I became AFFA certified and landed my first personal training job. In comes a new obsession:  cardio and counting calories. I replaced my extreme unhealthy ways with extreme healthy...after all I was a personal trainer now...I needed to "look" the part. As a personal trainer, I struggled with body image even more than I did before. I was lost. I wanted so bad to have the 6pack abs that I saw in the magazines. I felt like a scam, there I was coaching others on how to live happy and healthy and I was dying inside. Flash forward a few years...I hear about CrossFit. What is this? 

For the first time in my adult life I was proud of my body. My hands were torn, my legs were bruised and I was so proud of what my body could accomplish. In an instant my idea of body image changed. I no longer saw my body for what it physically looked like, I saw it for the first time as an amazing machine that could accomplish great things. I was happy. I accepted my body, my fitness and myself completely and I was proud of where I was and excited about where I was going... Then I got pregnant. Even through my entire pregnancy I felt great about what my body was accomplishing. I mean really I was growing a human and I was still crossfitting!  Flash forward to a month after I gave birth to my first son.

In my last post I talked about my struggles with being at the bottom of our CrossFit gym in terms of athletic abilities since I have been back post-pregnancy. In my head I was going to be back putting up the top times in the gym by now...almost 4 months later.  I still have baby weight to lose..my jeans don't fit and I cried during a WOD last week because I felt so bad about my times. I was back to my old ways of negative body image and crazy thinking. When the CrossFit Opens started last week, I knew I was going to compete...but I wasn't sure how I was going to handle the competition. During that WOD that I cried through...I had a major breakthrough. Well, my husband helped me have a breakthrough,  he was there to witness the hot mess that I was that day... later that night he said something  that changed me. He said " you have to stop defeating yourself every time you walk into that gym." He was right, in my head I was already beating myself up before I even started. I was not accepting myself at all. Now it would be a lie if I said that those thoughts don't come back into my head, I'm still working on it. When I saw this call I was excited to share and listen. I'm so glad that I did! At the end of the call they challenged us to write "self-acceptance principles"

Writing Your Own Self-Acceptance Principles

"Think about what you want to accept—about your body, about your fitness, about yourself in general and then write a principle for each.

For each aspect you will accept ask yourself,

What are your accepting?
What will acceptance allow you to focus on?
What will acceptance bring?

Each principle can go something like this..

I accept ________, which allows me to ________ so that I ___________.

Here are mine:

Body: I accept my left over baby fat, which allows me to spend every ounce of mental energy on being present to my son and husband so that I can truly experience life as a new mother.

Fitness: I accept my level of athletic ability post-postpartum, which allows me to focus on every WOD, every rep, every breath so that I can truly give it my very best in that moment.

Business Success: I accept where I am financially, which allows me to be fully available to help and coach others so that I can be a very successful and inspiring CrossFit coach and AdvoCare Advisor.

That is powerful! Ladies, I can't tell you how awesome it feels to accept yourself.
You just need to try this. 

As Fashlete of the Month, Shanna is receiving a customized necklace from Fashletics to add to her CrossFit jewelry collection.  We would like to thank her for sharing her story and showing that her commitment fitness has improved her life inside and outside of the gym.  Congratulations Shanna, keep up the good work!

Shanna originally wrote this post for her personal blog: The Truth About Chasing Your Dreams. Be sure to check it out!

For information on custom CrossFit Jewelry please click here.

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