What Do You Believe That Might Be Untrue?

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My mother was the self-described star of her high school basketball team and a fitness powerhouse in many ways throughout my childhood.  She brought me to sports camp once to try basketball and within minutes I’d been hit in the nose and sworn the sport off for good, much to her disappointment.  I started ballet classes around age 5 and I remember looking down at my round belly and then around the room at the girls who were not much more than legs and arms and bones and thinking, I’m just not a ballerina and I never will be.  I tried swimming in middle school and playing tennis in high school but didn’t really enjoy either and was just about as terrible at them as one who doesn’t enjoy a sport is likely to be.  I didn’t consciously know it but I had identified myself from the first incident with the basketball as “non-athletic”.  It was something I would come to both live into, and create.  It was something I would think about myself, tell people about myself, something I accepted as a truth.

When Tommy Bahama and SELF reached out about the swim, paddle board and fitness partnership I shared yesterday I kind of couldn’t believe it.  ME!  The non-athlete!  But I really wanted to try stand up paddle boarding, and I loved the idea of bringing something new and inspiring to the site.  So I said yes before I could say no, and I told that little voice in my head that was telling me that I was crazy to be quiet- I was going to have to just figure something out.

In late February/early March I reached out to January, teacher of the first yoga class I ever took- circa Spring 2008.  I hadn’t seen her since we left San Diego for LA, and then PS, but had followed along with her life via social media.  I knew that she’s a fitness trainer, teaches yoga still, is a genius about nutrition/health and would be the very best person to help me get in shape for the partnership in a way that felt good.  Still, I believed, she had only so much to work with, what with my complete lack of athletic ability and all.  When she accepted the challenge I wished her luck!  {Photos: Lou Mora}

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I’ve spent the past couple of months doing workouts with her.  I was starting from a very low point and felt incredibly weak- the move took a huge toll on me physically and I’ve spent the better part of this year trying to recover from it.  We started with yoga.  I built a little strength, and after that we started getting outside for hikes and more intense workouts.  I told her how much I admire her- she represents all that I want to be physically- strong, grounded, athletic.  She told me I could be!  I didn’t believe her, but I of course thanked her and continued on.

We moved our workouts outside, took to the hills for hikes, and started more fitness training.  I got on the stand up paddle board and completely shocked myself by actually being able to do it with ease!   I’m getting stronger by the day.  I see my body changing- muscles developing.  I feel myself becoming more grounded, less anxious.  After seeing the Tommy Bahama photos and not really even recognizing myself I asked January “Do you think I’m athletic?”  It was a question I’d asked myself.  I’d tentatively answered maybe and challenged a belief that I’ve lived into and with since I was a small child.  YES, she answered, ABSOLUTELY!

This changes everything.  And nothing.  I am who I’ve always been.  I’ve just discovered that it’s not who I thought I was.  I realize, this is both profound and incredibly simple.

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We believe things about ourselves.  We tell ourselves and others a story about who we are, how we identify ourselves.  And sometimes, that story isn’t true.  We just don’t know it.  So I challenge you, as I’ll continue to challenge myself- what is it that you believe about yourself that MIGHT not be true?  Could you entertain the possibility that what you’ve held as a part of your identity, an association that came from God knows where, might be inaccurate?

I’m starting to really come into my athletic self and it feels GOOD.  Like really, really, really good. It feels like coming home.  It feels like personal growth and healing and a part of my life’s work and purpose.  As does sharing it here.  Life is crazy.  Our brains and egos and histories are so complex.  Be kind to yourself, question that voice in your head that speaks to you- make sure it’s speaking your truth, or that you’re at least challenging it on occasion.  With so much love.  xx- Sarah

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Reader Comments

    • Sarah Yates|

      Thank you so much Marcia, so very sweet of you! All the best for you and your journey as well!!! xx

      Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Thanks Kelsey! OK, so time for you to challenge that and bring out your inner athlete! You can do it!!!! 🙂 xx

      Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Oh Daisy, that is so kind of you! Thank you so, so much. You have no idea how much it means to me!!! xx

      Reply
  1. anna|

    Never commented before, but this post really resonated with me. Your writing has definitely inspired me to do some thinking tonight!

    Reply
  2. Jimmer|

    It’s just like the “reality” of my body type and fitness level as well as my self-evaluation of how I don’t float and will never be comfortable in deep water. All lies. Thanks to January Wellness and Orca Swim School! Not only can we be the best person to explain who we aren’t, we can be the worst person to explain who we are.

    Reply
  3. Odette|

    This post really resonated with me!

    I have a very similar story to you when it comes to growing up and not being really athletic… hence I put myself in a bubble and just labeled myself as “not sporty”. It’s funny what the mind does to you… I remained optimistic about my life and just was settled thinking that I had other talents – non related to being athletic… It was an “truth” that was so ingrained in me.

    I am now a runner – I have run 3 half marathons and I am ready to run my fourth at the end of the month (rock and roll!). In the third grade I fell at my school’s mini Olympics (all students had to participate and I dreaded it) and I always said that I would never run – that I didn’t know how to. When I moved to San Diego, after seeing my husbands transformation from a non runner to an iron man athlete I was SO INSPIRED. I tried it and I have surprised myself so much! A new sense of confidence has overcome me and I am not afraid to challenge my thoughts about my “identity” anymore – we have the right to change and we are allowed to!

    So happy to see you going through this transformation and to see you rediscover yourself. You inspire me!

    Hugs,

    Odette.

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Odette that is AMAZING!!!!! Congratulations!! Thank you so much, you’re an inspiration- not only to those in your life but me as well. Thank you thank you!!!! xx

      Reply
  4. Krissy Engle|

    LOVE this post. You totally nailed it! I’ve always felt the same way, totally non-athletic . . . until I started doing yoga at CorePower and barre3! I finally feel like an athlete and I’m even instructing at barre3, which is even crazier! PS: LMK if you want to come take a class sometime and I’ll put you on the list! xo

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Thank you so much Krissy!!! And that’s AMAZING!!!!! I love that you’re teaching now! And I absolutely want to come take your class at some point!! xx

      Reply
  5. Heidi|

    This is AWESOME! Good for you and what a powerful message! I’ve always believed myself to be not much of an athlete as well, so this really resonated. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Wishes & Reality

    Reply
    • Sarah Yates|

      Thank you Heidi! I hope this inspires you to challenge that belief about yourself!! Maybe there’s an athlete in you that’s itching to get out too! 🙂 xx

      Reply