FLY; a look into my longest and most intimate relationship

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Valentine’s Day is about love, sharing that emotion with others and often solely focused on appeasing someone else. We can get so caught up in the hoopla of it all and forget that it’s ok to be alone, to work on the relationship with yourself, and give as much to yourself as you would someone else.

You’ve probably heard the expression “you can’t love someone into loving you.” There has probably been a relationship throughout your life where you wanted it to work so badly that you would have done anything for it, you would have given your all to see the (potential) positive outcomes, and you wouldn’t consider throwing in the towel until you put up a good fight until the very  end.

In my past relationships I don’t feel that anyone has every truly fought for me, yet as a result I learned a completely new theory. One that needs to come to the surface more, one that seemingly cannot let you down, and one that allows you to see that not all strength is love- just because you love something and you’re strong enough to hold on it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Typically, we’re taught to love others, treat them with respect, and take into account someone else’s needs- while that is all fine and dandy that will often leave you feeling cheated.

My story, like everyone else’s is long. There are high points, and low points. Successes and failures. Failed relationships and lasting ones…

The constant, longest, most dynamic and often times hardest to articulate relationship I’ve had, is the one with fitness. I’ve been in a relationship with fitness for as long as I can remember. It was something that started out with ease, it was fun, captivating, and always left me wanting more. It never turned its back on me and was always there for me when I needed it.

I watered it, I nurtured it, and it began to grow. Just as a relationship with an actual human there are periods of uncertainty, questionable moments, and times where you want to quit because it’s tough. I’ve been successful and I’ve also struggled to find my way. Fitness is something that a lot of people tend to see as one sided or one dimensional, yet it’s a very complex relationship.

People in general have a tendency to only show the good moments, the hi-light reel if you will, we don’t like others to see us in a place of need and confusion, yet that is what allows others to see that they’re not alone, that no relationship is perfect and that if you truly want something bad enough you’re going to have to work for it.

The outlets that I use to post my success and everyday struggles can often come off as me having it all together, but that’s when I work my hardest to be honest (despite how difficult it may be at times). I’ve lost my way countless times, I’ve wanted to give up, I’ve thrown in the towel (and quickly scrambled to get my towel back), and I’ve questioned (at least a dozen times) what road I’m on in this health and wellness quest.  I’ve binged eaten whatever I could get my hands on, I’ve had bottles of wine for dinner to ease the hurt and pain of, well, life (and other unsuccessful relationships), and I’ve regretted it all the next morning.

I’ve tried to physically run away from my problems, I’ve inspired hundreds of women to love and accept themselves for who they are no matter where they are, but I too have had my own struggles with that affirmation.

Yet, all of that being said, my relationship- the one with fitness has been my longest ongoing one to date. It’s lifted me through my highest of highs and my lowest of lows, and ironically some of those highs and those lows were because of it. I’ve wanted to break up with it many times, but then I’ve also had so many endorphins that I’ve wanted to make love to it.

This relationship is intimate…it’s one that I have with something, but one that continues to be built by someone…me, and no matter how I choose to view it, it’s a part of me that I will continue to fight for because it’s truly about loving myself, accepting myself as I am in the moment, and learning that despite what others may think or failed relationships have tried to tell me, I am worth fighting for. Yes, as in any relationship it is going to be a struggle, but it’s a struggle that’s worth fighting for time and time again. Yes, it’s hurt me, at times it felt as though it’s failed me, but as it stands it’s built me, and only continues to make me.

So, before you rush off and do what you were taught to do; love someone else, care for someone else, and treat them with respect, don’t forget to FLY (first love yourself), because the foundation that you lay and the bond you create within is one that can be truly unbreakable.

Jayel_Sig

“I Did That.”

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I do this thing every year where I book a vacation on a few days short notice. I tell my clients, do not tell my friends, and venture off on my own to a sunny destination outside of America where I can turn my phone off, fill up on vitamin sea, and disconnect from the rest of the world. Some find it odd, some find it impressive, some find it admirable, some find it weird; I find it necessary.

On this particular day I woke up in paradise to the sun shining through my windows gently hitting my (very sun burnt skin) and the rhythmic swaying sounds of the palm trees outside my palapa.

Yes, I woke up in paradise, but the reason I awoke was due to a dream; one that often haunts me at times. I don’t talk about them often, as I don’t want to give too much light to situations that I don’t have much time for in my everyday life. It’s a reoccurring dream to some degree and has been happening for years.

In this particular dream I was somehow back with my ex-husband. We were in the kitchen and had recently celebrated something as the large cake in the fridge had suggested. The fridge was a reminder that despite being back together there were still trust issues. There were old photos of girls from the past, post it’s attached to the outside of the fridge with magnets (yet the blank side of the post it was facing me), and I had an unexplainable feeling of disconnect. I knew that if I tried to talk to him and ask about these things that I would immediately be shot down, and that despite whatever he may have said I wouldn’t feel confident trusting in his responses.

It was throughout that period of my life that I trusted others more than I trusted myself. I allowed their words to be more bold, more confident, and hold more value than my own.

When I realized what was going on I knew I had two choices; continue to try and sleep and attempt to determine where this particular dream was headed, or wake up. Waking up was the clear choice, however not always easy, I view it as more than a physical state but a metaphorical one as well. As I took a stretch and I found myself in a state of appreciation I was reminded that those particular happenings were no longer a part of my life, they were no longer a part of my life because I made the ultimate decision. I chose to leave. At the time I didn’t know exactly what that would entail and what feelings would arise in the short term, and long term, but I knew they were much, much greater than the feelings that would have continued to develop had I stayed. I reminded myself that years ago I had a choice in the matter even though in that moment the pain and agony was so strong that I didn’t quite feel that way.

While continuing to wake up, I told myself over and over that I no longer had to live that life. Yes, it may come back as a reminder of what I had to grow through in order to get to myself in the present day, but that’s all it is; a reminder. We have a tendency to get caught up in the past, and allow our past experiences  to define or put such great emphasis on our future that we get stuck in the same cyclic cycle without any sense of forward motion.

Although those dreams are not warranted and aren’t pretty, and can be rather redundant it allows me to be reminded that no matter what I’ll always have a choice. The choices and the way that they present themselves aren’t always easy ones, but they are ultimately ours for the taking. …As I threw on my clothes, brushed my teeth, and grabbed my laptop to write this post, I headed to breakfast on the beach overlooking the sea, and was pleasantly reminded that; “I did that.”

No, it’s not always going to be easy but I’m creating a life worth living, I get to decide who I’m going to be, and that my voice doesn’t necessarily have to be the loudest in the room, it just needs to be loud enough to make an impact.

So, for all of you that are struggling with where you want to be, and which direction you’re headed—remember that you have a choice- you have a say in this thing called life and you deserve to make an impact. Know that your life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to be proud!

Jayel_Sig

What’s Next?

jayellewisday1sep172016_pinkoutift_fave-0101Everyone is looking for more meaning in their lives- it’s what holds true meaning that they can’t always seem to find.

Since moving back to the states (it’ll be four years in May) I’ve given my all to “what’s next” — for me it originated from a place of not being enough and ultimately having to move on from my marriage, divorce, and loss of what felt like the only life I had ever known. At that point, what’s next for me was learning how to be completely independent (mainly financially) and not allowing myself to look back in the rearview mirror. I put everything I had into my marriage to ultimately walk away knowing that it was the best possible decision and that over time I would learn some of the reasons as to why things didn’t work out.

I have.

In the coming years I did what most people told me I could not. I hustled; I independently built my fitness brand, made quite a name for myself in the industry, graced several magazine pages (even a cover), and made business connections some would kill for. All of which have been monumental for me, yet still leaving me with the question of “what’s next?”

Throughout the past year I’ve been more financially stable than ever before, have partnered with, been sponsored by, or affiliated with over eight major brands and have gotten more recognition than I’m typically comfortable with.

People in the industry often view my roles as “having it made.” While I don’t necessarily disagree, I’ve paid a very high price of not valuing my emotional well being, sacrificing relationships (both with myself and others), and losing some of my deep seeded passion along the way.

From a business perspective, I truly couldn’t ask for more. Yet, at the end of the day all of the endorsements, awards, accolades, financial security and running a business that I love, I still find myself wondering what’s next, and is it enough? In a sense, it’s a blessing and a curse– yes I should always be thinking of what’s ahead but I’m slowly learning that planning everything out (especially being the perfectionist that I am) gives me no time to appreciate what’s right in front of me.

I’ve become obsessed with making the impossible possible, and as a result I fail to give myself credit for what I’ve built (and will continue to build), because I’m so overworked and overwhelmed that I fail to see things clearly. I thought that what’s next was always something I had to ask myself, and have a concrete thought-out answer as my response, and in turn that would make me happy. Wrong.

I’ve put pressure on myself, I’ve set unattainable standards for myself and what I expect from others–and it’s failing. I’m failing myself– making a living has turned into forgetting to live and I only have myself to blame for that. At times I’m so focused on the bigger picture that I fail to see that the bigger picture is in fact made up of tiny snapshots along the way.

What’s next, you ask– working on my own personal relationship with myself. I’m learning that the most important relationship has to start from within, even if that includes guilt for feeling selfish. I’ve neglected my emotional wellbeing for years and the candle can only continue to burn on both ends for so long.

So, the next time you ask yourself, or someone else asks you “what’s next?” Remember that by always living in forward motion and not your current state of being you’re putting yourself at risk for a potential downward spiral. What’s next for me is continuing to build a name for myself and my brand, but focusing in on the things that truly matter in life, taking a step back when necessary and reminding myself that no matter what- I’m enough.

 

EveryBODY Has a Story

jl-18As of late, there’s been a new movement in the health and wellness industry, and as a personal trainer, and advocate for everybody having a story, I’m all for it. In my industry I deal with all shapes and sizes, and I teach and preach to women that no matter what skin they’re in they should embrace it and accept themselves for everything they not only love, but issues they seemingly hate.

We’ve turned body shaming into something more powerful; body love, self acceptance, and vulnerability.

Finally.

Yet I don’t think the playing field is all that fair. Personally, I’ve fully embraced the new movement, until now…

As women begin to feel more uplifted and encouraged by others that they are accepted in all their glory, skin, rolls, pudginess, excess booty, and a less than flat midsection I can’t help but to feel we’re heading in the right direction of how we view beauty, sex appeal, and the new norm. Yet, as my social media feeds become inundated with images of women in their underwear that may not be a size two, who are clearly willing to bare it all (mind, body, message) I can’t help but feel as though other women in various categories are being short changed.

For some of us with physiques that are viewed as perfect, having it all, not having to put in much work, or choose to show off the work we have put in; it’s too much. Often times being proud of your body (myself included) can automatically mean being over sexual, or sending out the wrong message to some. This is where I call bullshit. If we’re going to teach plus sized women (whatever that definition actually is), to love their bodies and strut their stuff, then a woman with a six pack, tight ass, and well trained physique should be able to do the same without feeling less than.

Through years of learning to accept myself (this is an ongoing process), I’ve learned that no matter what-my body is mine, all 130-ish pounds of it. My body is one that I worked damn hard to get to where it is. Often times it’s a daily struggle to accept myself, flaws and all because sometimes I’m not accepted because my body appears to be the perfect figure for some. My body, just like any body has been through hell and back, it’s endured heartache, divorce, rebuilding, building a business (soon to be two), injuries, surgeries, and everything else in between that we’ve all suffered through at some point on another.

Rewind to 20 some odd years ago when my body was one I wasn’t proud of. I never struggled with weight in the sense that I had too much, but rather too little. I struggled because I was too skinny. For no reason other than not being able to keep weight on due to food allergies and not hitting puberty until later in life, yet I was made fun of on a consistent basis. I was called a tomboy and not because I was always into sports, but because my physique resembled a boy more than a 10 year old girl.

It wasn’t until I started really getting into sports and weight lifting that my body began to change. I put on a very little bit of muscle and worked hard at it year after year because I wanted to see what my body was capable of transforming into. I’m now at a point in my life where I’ve come to accept my body for what it is, and I’ve learned to do that because I realized no matter what, no one was ever going to accept me for all of me the way that I knew I deserved.

Just as we accept, and at times are now flaunting everybody overweight or not, let’s remember that every shape, and every size needs to be celebrated. I will never apologize for the skin I’m in- even if that’s too skinny or too muscular for some. And you shouldn’t either. So lets give credit to everyone and not just some for their boldness and courageous efforts because truth be told everybody has a story, and everybody has fought a few battles we know nothing about.

Jayel_Sig

“I Did.” > “I Do.”

jl-14I’ve had a lot of recent successes- what feels like success to me, and I suppose what looks like success to others. In the past few months I was invited to give a keynote speech to hundreds of women about my journey (big moment for me), I landed the cover of Be Well Philly’s annual health and wellness magazine, and I graced the pages of the New Balance Women’s catalog as more than a fitness model, but rather a role model. I’d say I’m well on my way to making a name for myself in the fitness industry.

I’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of “congrats” and “I’m so proud of you” moments, and I so appreciate them, but…there’s more, more that you probably won’t see me gracing any magazine pages for- more that may be passe to speak of because my exterior paints a much different picture than my interior. It’s an image of seemingly doing well that people are proud of, yet it was not doing well that has led me to the point in my career that is now considered successful.

Too often people fear sharing the not so pretty side of their seemingly glamorous life, but I truly believe that to be a mistake.

As I’m sure you know, and it’s rather apparent- I haven’t been blogging as often as I once did, for various reasons but one in particular that makes me feel like a phony, because I’m not practicing what I preach.

I preach the importance of making time for yourself, and to make time for what truly matters. Yet I’m failing time and time again to realize how much matter. The phrase “I matter” is something I still struggle with because I’m so used to putting others first; their schedules, health concerns, and feelings. Yet as I tell each client the importance of giving back to themselves, at the end of the day I find myself with nothing left to give.

This isn’t something that happened overnight, it’s something that I’ve allowed to happen for years. When returning back to the sates (three years ago) I threw every fiber of my being into my business, allowing me to solely focus on the present, without truly facing or dealing with my past. As I’m reminded by my past I force myself to be grateful, and thankful for my present and my future- yet I struggle with allowing myself to just be, whether that’s here or there.

Yesterday was, or what would have been my sixth wedding anniversary. I didn’t really speak much of it but I felt (the memory of what I once imagined life to look like) staring back at me.

Please believe me when I say I don’t want that life…I did then, but I don’t now. I’ve learned so much about myself, and continue to do so on a regular basis and for that I’m thankful. Yet taking time out for myself is something I need to make a priority. Often times I don’t deal with my feelings as they arise, but later on when I have no other choice but to confront them. I’m just like everyone else who struggles with negative coping mechanisms. Moments of drinking too much, attempting to eat my way through feeling better, and overall just feeling bad about myself-but I know I’m not alone, and as cliche as that may sound, I believe it to be true. I know I’m not the only person that struggles with demons from the past and that’s why I continue to share the realness of my life.

It’s so important for me to be transparent in a world of people that are driven by fear (I’m often one of those people too), to allow others to see that their journey and what they feel may be a failure is indeed not that. It’s an opportunity for change.

I think sometimes because something happened years ago we think shouldn’t discuss it, that we should automatically be over it, and no longer have any feelings associated with that memory. I call bullshit. In fact, I think it’s important that no matter what you’re feeling, you address it, and remind yourself that there is no right or wrong here, there just is.

For me, it’s reassuring myself that it’s ok to invest in my personal life as much as my business. I’ve grown my business with purpose and through potential, and I’ve learned to be ok with the ups and downs of that, yet I still need a lot of work when it comes to being fully capable of giving myself permission to potentially fall on my face and be less guarded in my personal life.

This is mainly for me, but also for all of you reading this- as long as you’re moving, you’re creating. Take time out for yourself and begin to create. Forward motion.

Jayel_Sig