Why I Love #ThisGirlCan

I’ve always thought of myself as healthy. I’ve always thought of myself as athletic. I played sports in high school and even went to the State Championships for track and field. While I despise the treadmill I genuinely enjoy running and moving and using my body in a real and active way. But somewhere during college I stopped.

I didn’t have a coach telling me what to do. I didn’t have 5:30 a.m. practices I needed to be at. I didn’t have a team to let down if I didn’t push myself to the very last second. While I don’t think I gained the Freshman 15, I definitely gained the College 30. While I still ate well (my saving grace), I was no longer working out everyday for three hours, and after four years of inactivity, it showed.

At 24 I’m ready to be fit again. One of the things that is motivating me is the This Girl Can campaign. As I started to work out, something was horrifyingly obvious: I don’t have the body I did at 18. The last time I worked out everyday with any consistency was when I had never weighed more than 135 pounds At 18, I’d never gone more than a few weeks without being on a sports team. When I found myself “out of shape” in high school, it never took me more than a week or two to get back on track.

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When I run now, I can feel my thighs and love handles jiggle. When I do yoga, sometimes my tummy or boobs get in the way. My face, as it always has, get tomato red after just a few minutes of exercise. I look like the antithesis of a Nike commercial. But I’m moving, and that’s all that matters.

This Girl Can is a campaign developed by Sport England. It is, to quote their website, “a celebration of active women up and down the country who are doing their thing no matter how well the do it, how they look or even how red their face gets.” Even though I’m not from England, that is exactly what I need to hear.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m constantly worried about what others are thinking about me when I’m exercising. I wonder if others will notice how hard it is for me to make it up the last, or even first, hill of my run. I wonder if they can tell my gear is from Old Navy instead of Lululemon. I wonder if they are judging my (lack of) balance in yoga. But This Girl Can aims to combat all that. Again, to quote their website, “Fear of judgement is stopping many of us from taking part in exercise. But as thousands of women up and down the country are proving, it really doesn’t have to.”

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Sport is so often glamorized, which is weird when you think about it. Even when athletes in Gatorade commercials are sweating, they’re sweating the most beautiful, photogenic beads you’ve ever seen. While commercials like this are often inspiring, they’re not empowering. I want to know that women like me, who are jiggly and giggly, are out there moving, too. Women who look drenched and disheveled when exercising. Women who aren’t professional athletes but are out there moving and having fun all the same. Most importantly, other women are ready to support my fitness if I just let them.

That’s why I’m in love with the This Girl Can commercial and hashtag (#ThisGirlCan). The commercial shows women, hot and sweaty, moving in dozens of ways and absolutely killing it. They’re out there exercising and having fun and totally owning their bodies. If you follow the hashtag, you’ll see women from around the world talking about fitness in their lives and support each other along the way.

Now, anytime I hear that voice in my head worrying what other people think, I just remember these women. I remember the This Girl Can campaign and remember to celebrate my movement and the movement of others. Because I want to be the women in this campaign. I am one of these women. This girl can!

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