Week 1 Recap: We're Highlighting the Women in City Fit Girls
By Takia McClendon
Last week, we asked the women in City Fit Girls to share their fitness and wellness stories with us and so far, the answers have been nothing short of amazing. Throughout the entire month of March, you'll have the chance to learn about (and be inspired by) the women who make up this community. If you'd like to participate, you can submit your story here.
In the meantime, check out the stories from last week and follow along our Instagram and Facebook @cityfitgirls for daily updates.
March 1: Kiera @kierasmalls
Why did you follow or join City Fit Girls? I wanted to be surrounded by a community that welcomed people who were similar to me (size, color, pace, interests). This includes who shows up to events and activities, representation in social media posts, relatable content in the weekly newsletter, etc.
Did you have a defining moment that piqued your interest in fitness/wellness? My mother passed away 10 years ago to something that I believe could have been prevented. I was a freshman in college when I got the news. It was important for me to lead a different lifestyle.
What is your accomplishment in fitness? Professionally - Being the co-founder of this awesome community is my greatest accomplishment. Personally, completing my first (and probably last lol) marathon in 2016. I was able to run the race without any asthma issues + raise $3,000 for @GearingUp.
What has been your biggest challenge in fitness/wellness? Emotional and/or mindless eating. I can do any physical activity required but when vegan donuts come around...I bow down. (insert shrug emoji). P.S I talk about this in detail at cityfitgirls.com
If you could give advice to someone who is just starting their health and wellness journey, what would it be? You can look to others for inspiration but understand what you see may or may not be their full story. Everyone's journey is different. Workout because you love your body not because you hate it. Surround yourself with people who push you and inspire you to do better. Don't be so hard on yourself.
March 2: Takia @takiamcclendon
Why did you follow/join City Fit Girls? Kiera and I started this community so that women (no matter their age, race, pace, sexual orientation) could workout together in a judgement-free environment.
Did you have a defining moment that piqued your interest in fitness/wellness? I realized that my grandparents had both passed away at a young age to preventable diseases. I also realized that many of the women in my immediate family are dealing with preventable diseases that are directly correlated with diet and exercise. It was a huge wake up call and I wanted to help change the course for my family and for my community.
What has been your biggest personal accomplishment in fitness/wellness? My biggest accomplishment was running my first half marathon in 2013. I used to think long distance running was for people who didn’t look like me. It was something that I couldn’t even see my self doing and now it’s something that I can’t see myself not doing.
What has been your biggest challenge in fitness/wellness? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenge has been dealing with extensor tendonitis in my left foot. I was completely sidelined for 2 months last year at a time where I was making a lot of progress as a runner and I still haven't recovered 100%.
If you could give advice to someone who just started their fitness/wellness journey, what would it be? I meet people who are new to fitness everyday and I get very sad when they feel like they’re not good enough because of what they see in magazines, diet/fitness books and on TV. My advice would be to stop comparing yourself to others. You have to own where you are on your journey and let time, consistency and commitment take care of the rest. Lastly, I’d tell them to find their people. The fitness/wellness space isn’t always the most inclusive community but there are groups, studios, clubs, etc. that are welcoming and will help you get to where you want to be.
March 3: Sharon @swimbikesharun
Why did you follow/join City Fit Girls? I had been running solo for about five months when I saw a sign in Dilworth advertising CFG group runs on Wednesday nights. I never considered myself to be someone who would enjoy group fitness, but I convinced myself that it would be nice to try something new. I went to my first group run and the rest was history!
Did you have a defining moment that piqued your interest in fitness/wellness? I had gone on a vacation and spent the whole trip feeling really uncomfortable in my body. Every picture I took was one that I hated. When I came back, I had to fill out a health assessment survey and was stunned when it told me I was obese and a high health risk. I began to assess where I was with my health and realized that I had to make healthy, active living part of my lifestyle and not just a temporary goal.
What has been your biggest personal accomplishment in fitness/wellness? My biggest accomplishment was learning how to ride a bike. I didn't learn how to ride as a kid, so as an adult I assumed I'd never learn. However, by the spring of 2015 I had lost a lot of weight,started running and even finished the Broad Street Run, so I was clearly in a good place for facing fears and taking on new challenges! I started taking out Indego bikes and with the support and help of my husband, we would go to the driveway behind the Rodin Museum, where I would practice going down a slight incline on the bike. It took about 3 cumulative hours, but eventually I finally learned how to push off and pedal! The following year I completed my first triathlon and then upgraded to clipless pedals on the bike. Now I've completed a very challenging half Ironman and I'm training for my first full Ironman this year. Never say never, friends :)
What has been your biggest challenge in fitness/wellness? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenge is emotional eating, and I can't say that I've overcome it. I try to be mindful and work to disconnect my emotions from eating, and I try to be gentle on myself if I don't always succeed. But it's a continuous challenge that I will probably be working to overcome for a while.
If you could give advice to someone who just started their fitness/wellness journey, what would it be? Don't let fear be what controls your emotions. Sometimes things will feel difficult and scary. You may not have a smashing success the first time you try something new, but that's okay. It's called a "journey" because progress is not linear. A setback is only a setback if you don't grow from it and try again. In fitness, career, and life, people don't achieve their goals by giving up when the going gets tough. People who achieve their goals are people who get back on the proverbial horse after they fall and try again. Not every race will be a PR, not every training session will feel easy, not every meal plan will go according to plan. That's just life, and it's what makes us human. Be kind to yourself, keep moving forward, and I promise you will see progress down the road.
March 4: Maria Parades-Fernandez @mfp131
Why did you follow/join City Fit Girls? I wanted to be part of an organization that was representative of my values. Being a competitive athlete is just one aspect of this, I also care about community, and the power that an active lifestyle can have on empowering others. I knew this organization was successful when I began to view it as a safe space that embraced the diversity of its members.
Did you have a defining moment that piqued your interest in fitness/wellness? When I started graduate school in 2009, I was hyper focused on my grades and neglected everything else including self-care. It caught up to me and once was reincorporated fitness into my life, everything else seemed to fall back into place.
What has been your biggest personal accomplishment in fitness/wellness? My biggest personal accomplishment is to be able to be supportive in the fitness goals of my friends and family. To me, running is a mindset or a lifestyle; as long as you have the perseverance, you’re a runner. When I’m able to effectively communicate that with those I love and I see them embracing an active lifestyle, I see that as the biggest achievement of all.
What has been your biggest challenge in fitness/wellness? How did you overcome it? My biggest challenges are FONTHE (Fear Of Not Training Hard Enough). Rich Ryan (@richrunnerguy), my running coach, coined the term FONTHE and it is a true phenomenon. On social media when I’ll see other athletes that are fairly comparable to my level and hitting amazing paces, lifting heavier weights, or doing two-a-days, I immediately think I should up my game. Rich has recommended that when one feels this, they should take 10 seconds to wallow and then flip the mindset to appreciation and inspiration. These other athletes have goals too and their accomplishments are proof that one can reach a higher level. In other words, just be happy for them. I embraced this mindset during #cfgstreak and hope to continue with it.
If you could give advice to someone who just started their fitness/wellness journey, what would it be? Be persistent and be proud regardless of where you are in your journey. Even when things are not going your way, if you follow through, you completed the task. In time, when it gets more manageable, you’ll realize that the task has stayed the same, it’s just you that has gotten stronger.