I Wish this Program was Around When We Were Young

 

Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege to coach for Girls on the Run. I wanted to coach for years, but having two boys I found it difficult to make the time. This year I finally made it work.

 

In case you haven’t heard of Girls on the Run, I wanted to let you know it is unlike any running program I have ever seen. In fact, it’s not just about running at all. Yes, the girls train for a 5K, but more importantly they train for a healthy, happy life.

 

Here is the mission of Girls on the Run:

 

“We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

 

We believe that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, can change the world.”

 

I have been so impressed by the curriculum. With topics including healthy self-talk, gratitude, being of service, standing up for yourself, and much more, this program has the power to change lives.

 

This week’s lesson really touched my heart. We talked about being emotionally healthy. I believe many women could benefit from this lesson.

 

While I won’t go into to specific details of the lesson out of honoring the copyrights of the program, I wanted to give you a general idea of what we discussed and why I think it is so important.

 

We talked about the many different emotions we have and how all of them are healthy whether we like feeling them or not. We discussed how emotions aren’t “good” or “bad” but some such as joy, excitement, and contentment feel “comfortable” while sadness, nervousness, and frustration feel “uncomfortable.”

 

We also talked about how we often experience many different emotions during the same day and that is normal and healthy. I love how girls are learning these lessons while they are young.

 

When I was a kid I was often told I was “too sensitive.” I thought this meant there was something wrong with me. I thought I was weak and that my feelings weren’t “normal.” Since I worked hard on “being a good girl” and being a “people pleaser”, I tried my best to hide my feelings.

 

Like many girls and women, I turned to food to comfort me when I was feeling emotionally hungry. I couldn’t deal with my feelings so I chose to numb out. It worked well in the moment and then quickly turned into more uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, bloating and being disgusted with myself since I was always worried about gaining weight.

 

I have worked with so many women who turn to food to deal with their emotions. It is at the core of why dieting is not the answer when it comes to health and weight loss. It is our relationship with our emotions, our body and food that must be healed to feel truly healthy.

 

As a coach for Girls on the Run it feels so amazing to teach the girls that all emotions are part of the human experience. I believe this knowledge helps us be more compassionate with others and with ourselves.

 

Girls on the Run plants important seeds that need to be continually watered as the girls move through puberty and become young women. In a world where we are often told to “suck it up”, we must know that sometimes it is completely normal and healthy to fall apart.

 

As women we must allow ourselves to do the same. We can learn that we have a choice on how to deal with and move through some of the more uncomfortable emotions.

 

Instead of jumping into the cookies or chips we must be willing to look at what we really need. This can be very painful if we have been in the habit of stuffing down our feelings with food for so long.

 

While everyone needs to find what works for them, here are a few things that have worked for me when I wanted to dive into a container of Ben and Jerry’s as a means to run and hide from my feelings.

 

* Journaling without judgment. Writing down all the yucky things I was feeling no matter how crazy they sounded.

 

* Going for a walk in the woods. Nature always helps me see things in a different light.

 

* Screaming and crying for as long as I needed.

 

* Calling a friend who has the time to really listen without trying to “fix” my problems.

 

* Going outside, throwing ice cubes, and watching them break into little pieces.. This is something I learned from my kids. It is surprisingly satisfying.

 

Experiencing uncomfortable emotions doesn’t mean you are weak, too sensitive or that something is wrong with you. It means you’re human and that’s a great thing.

 

With appreciation for all of our feelings- Michelle

 

P.S. If you have a girl between 3rd and 8th grade I highly recommend Girls on the Run. You can learn more about the program here.

 

 

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My 2 sisters and I walked out of your talk energized and more committed than ever to continue eating healthy.

Ann Jenkins