As promised, today, I am sharing my talk from Curves Walker Drive’s annual Christmas in July High-Tea, which took place on Saturday. The day was filled with friendly faces, cake, tea and a little bit of everything. A shout out to the Curves ladies who went over and beyond to organize such a successful event, for an amazing cause and for also giving me the opportunity of speaking at your event about body positivity.
I haven’t made any changes to my talk, so here it is, the way I said it.
My name is Megan Kelly. I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, friend, business women, sometimes crazy, loving and overly dramatic. But what I am not, is my size. I have been asked here today, to tell you a little bit about myself, body positivity and why it’s so important to you, me and everyone around us. A little over 2 months ago, I met with the team at Curves and introduced them to the #BMKBucketList challenge, it’s been quite the journey and I am very chuffed to be given the opportunity of standing here in front of you.
To give you a little background, from a young girl I have done nothing but hate my body. Hate doesn’t quite sum up the repulsion that I have felt towards it. Yes, repulsion – like pure disgust just by my own reflection. By the age of 9 years old, I had tried several diets and had even gone as far as trying dieting tablets. When I was 10 years old, I welcomed my baby sister to the world and by the time she was 4 years old, she too, would only define her body by her “chubby” thighs.
My issues with my body followed me through school, and high school was probably the toughest part of my journey. But I am not here to compare scars, I am here to tell you about the breakthroughs.
At my heaviest of 125kgs, I felt my best. I was 8 months pregnant with my son and although at my biggest, I felt pretty, beautiful and dare I say sexy. The real break-through was when I welcomed my son. A body that I only knew how to hate, somehow managed to birth a baby boy that was so perfect, so pure, so darn beautiful. I did that. My body carried him for 38,5 weeks, birthed him, nurtured him and for the two years that followed, helped to sustain him. How can you hate a body that is so strong and knows just what to do and when to do it?
I didn’t have a choice. I had to start loving it. Not only for my own sanity, but so that my son would grow up learning to love and respect humans no matter their shape, size, gender or colour. Despite this realization that I had to start the journey of self-love and acceptance, I still dabbled in several diets, tried diet pills and every time I failed, I would fall deeper into the negative cycle.
And then it dawned on me, I kept saying that I was going to do things, that I was going to wear clothes that I loved, that I was going to buy jeans, that I was going to swim with my son… but only after I lost more weight. And that is when I figured, it just isn’t good enough anymore. I have a very limited time with my son to be silly and that no matter my shape or size, I needed to seize the moment and stop using my body as an excuse.
And so I have created 12 challenges that I aim to tick off, in the next year.
Have you ever felt like you can’t find a pair of boots because your calves are too chunky? You can’t participate in a yoga class because you’re just not petite enough? Perhaps you’ve never dared to own a two-piece because of your rounded tummy? If you identify with any of these challenges, then you will know just how tough it is for me to own the #BMKBucketList challenge.
The #BMKBucketList is dedicating an entire year to focusing each month on a challenge and changing my “I can’t” to “I DID!” It’s about owning the moment, embracing my body in every stage of my journey and learning to love it right here, right now. The #BMKBucketList is putting my biggest insecurities out there and being vulnerable in hopes of inspiring you, you and even you!
The added element to the body positive campaign, is sharing YOUR stories! Now, I know what you’re thinking. “She can’t be speaking about me.” Well, I am. I want to share absolutely everybody’s story so that when you visit my blog, you find at least one other person in the world, who’s story you relate to. My story may seem foreign to you, but that doesn’t mean this journey isn’t for you! Every Wednesday, By Megan Kelly shares an interview with a new woman – she may be your mom, my mom, your neighbour, our fine coaches, it can even be you! The interview is 8 simple questions that focuses on self-love. You’re also welcome to use the platform to share your own struggles with your body, how you overcame them, or what you wish others knew about your story. I want to share YOUR story and create a movement to inspire change.
When preparing for this campaign, I did a little bit of research that I want to share with you today. Jes Baker recently shared in her TED Talk that
“Studies show globally less than 4% of women would call themselves beautiful and that 81% of 10-year olds are afraid of being fat. In a survey, results show that 40% of 9 and 10-year olds have at some point, tried to lose weight and are more afraid of getting fat than they are of cancer, war or even losing their parents. The truth is, less than 5% of the world’s population possess the body type that is often portrayed by Americans in mainstream media, yet we still insist on comparing ourselves with one another and putting ourselves under pressure to get the “perfect” body.”
So while the aim of this campaign is to start living despite my chunky thighs, round tummy and lightning bolt stretch marks, it’s also to be the voice of change. I don’t want my children growing up with the same pressure that I did. I want them to know that food is fuel, it isn’t an emotion, it isn’t a shield – it is just food. You are allowed carbs, and to enjoy that slice of cake. But don’t allow that slice of cake to become your emotions – learn to love your body. Because when you love something enough, you want to take better care of it by challenging it, feeding it the right foods – all foods and creating balance.
And that is where Curves comes in. One of my challenges is to go to gym. I have never stepped inside a gym, because of fear. Fear that I would be the fat girl making a fool of herself. I was intimidated and again found myself saying, just lose some weight and then begin gym. I asked Curves to be my sponsor, in this campaign, to change the view on the gymming industry.
As I am sure you all already know, and if you don’t, best you sign up today! Curves Walker Drive is home to coaches who care. Although only 2 months into being a member, I have laughed, I have cried and I have celebrated with each one of our coaches. Without their dedication, this journey would not be possible.
A few weeks ago, I noticed my unhealthy habits crawling in. I had started to become weighed down by my anxiety of being weighed in. At the end of the day, the health industry is modelled around numbers. Numbers that don’t always make sense to me because let’s be real, judging by my BMI, I should need a crane to be removed from my bed, each morning. I had finally gotten over the hurdle of being number obsessed but with the worry of Monday’s weigh-in, I had even started thinking about diet pills, skipping meals and then later binge eating away the anxiety. When I chatted to Christine, she said then let’s eliminate the problem. No more weighing.
I don’t need a scale to tell me that being part of Curves is good for me and my journey, I can feel the change. The days that I don’t come to gym, I feel caged in, worn down and sort of empty. This is such a weird thing to admit, as I was the girl who never participated in sports, who bunked inter-house galas and athletics days. I had sort of just thought that “movement” wasn’t for me. But it really just took finding the right exercise that challenged me in my own personal capacity.
When I first started gymming with Curves, I felt like a sore thumb. Pretending to know what I am doing, trying to make my body keep up. And then one day, it happened. I glanced in the window and I got a fright. The person standing in the reflection looked like she belonged, her body moved with the rhythm, it kept up, the muscles worked. She looked tired, but energised all at the same time. The reflection was me. And that’s when I knew I was on the path to self-love and accepting every stage of my body positive journey.
Now, let me just say that I am not body positive. Don’t let me standing here, fool you into thinking that I just woke up one day and decided that I loved all this. It isn’t that easy. I am undoing years of the darkest words that I have ever thought, I am reprograming my brain, working through my insecurities. But when I walk past a window, I don’t “grill”. I say damn girl, look at you! Look at you owning those jeans! Look at you complimenting yourself. Look at you being one step closer.
Body positivity is not an overnight thing, it’s a journey. It won’t take days, or weeks – it can take years. So here’s my challenge for you. Today, before you leave. Instead of thinking of the hundred and one things that you don’t like about yourself, focus on just one thing that you like about yourself. Tomorrow, I want you to choose something new that you like. And the next day, another new thing. Every day, I want you to take 2 minutes to put all your doubts aside, and just focus on one thing that you love. Let that fuel you, empower you, let it become you! And eventually, loving your body will become natural, it will be part of you and who you are.