What I’m Taking Away From My First Season of Girls On The Run

This past Saturday was the 5k celebration all of the GOTR programs in the KC area have been training for. Besides running, the girls gained a lot of life lessons from the 10-week program. Here are a few of the things I’ll take away:

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Everyone has a story.
Third, fourth and fifth graders ALWAYS have a story to tell. Sometimes it ties into what we’re discussing, but most of the time it does not. I’m reminded not to judge people by their exterior and that everyone has their own story of why they act the way they do. (This becomes especially apparent when meeting the girls’ parents!)

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A kind smile and positivity make a world of a difference.
No matter what kind of day I had at work, I always left GOTR practice feeling happy, proud and refreshed. I hope that practice did the same for each of the girls and that they continue to empower one another.

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Girls gotta stick together.
I distinctly remember one of the girls commenting that ‘boys are weird’. I told her that boys will always be weird and all of the coaches giggled. We live in a world where women are constantly trying to impress or please members of the opposite or same sex. It’s important that these young girls learn about empowerment, body image gratitude, compassion and optimism; which is why programs like Girls on the Run are vital. Think that 3rd graders aren’t pressured to be skinny or that they don’t worry about how they look? Think again. Surveys showed that it is in fact a concern of theirs and most girls don’t think they are thin enough. By stimulating conversations, we can inspire girls and build self-confidence.

I really enjoyed my first experience in coaching GOTR and have signed up to coach again this fall!

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Body Image and Discovering “I’m fine”

I’ve been coaching Girls on the Run for a couple weeks now. Recently, we had the girls fill out a survey about body image and their daily routine to find out how they feel about themselves and their health. As we went through the questions with the girls, I answered them in my head about my personal health habits. Two questions stood out to me.

#2. Please circle the number of the body shape which you THINK looks like you.

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And #4. Please circle the number of the body shape you WANT to look like.

I struggled on this one. With lots of healthy eating and activity over the past 4 years, I finally feel average. I think I probably look like number 4. But is that what I want to look like? Yes. I’m happy with what the scale says and how my clothes fit. I’ll continue to workout and tone my arms and thighs but I’m FINALLY happy with what I see in the mirror. It took a long time to A. discover that and B. admit that. For a long time I stared at the mirror seeing someone who was 20, 40 or 60 lbs. heavier. Even though I had lost the weight and others were noticing, it took me a while to see it.

GOTRI was so disappointed to watch many of these girls (3rd-5th graders) circled that they looked like #4 but wanted to look like #2. Very few were happy with their body shape. In reality, how could they be happy when all they see on television is how to get better skin, lose weight, whiten teeth and get prettier hair? I was pleased to see that one young lady circled #4 for both questions and wrote “I’m fine.” Wonderful! I wish some of the other girls felt the same.

These girls need some positive reinforcement and I look forward to the next several weeks as they train for their upcoming 5k. At the end of this program the girls will fill out a post survey. I’m excited to see how their answers change.

Raising a girl with a positive body image

What’s behind a dangerous teen body image obsession

Helping girls with body image

Beauty is only skin deep

Healthy body image: Tips for guiding girls

Run With Your Heart, Not Your Legs

Girls_on_the_Run_LogoWednesday evening I attended a training to become an assistant coach for Girls on the Run. I wasn’t familiar with this organization until recently, thanks to Ali over at Miles with Style.

Girls on the Run is designed to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. The program embraces differences, nurtures physical, emotional and spiritual health, and promotes leadership, community service and good decision making.

I’ll meet with 15 girls (3rd-5th grade) once a week to teach life skills through conversation-based lessons and running games. Running is used to inspire and motivate girls, encourage lifelong health and fitness, and build confidence through accomplishment. At the end of the season, the girls will complete a 5k.

As I sat through training, watching several videos from current coach and past participants, one of them really pulled at my heartstrings. One young girl was asked to tell what piece of advice her coach gave her that really helped her. She replied, “Run with your heart, not your legs.”

She went on to explain that your legs will eventually stop you but your heart will keep you going. Isn’t that the truth! For those of you who read about my first marathon experience know that I ran with my heart and my legs could barely handle it.

Running is a mental game. When I’m alone, I use this time to reflect, breathe and take in the sights of nature. In running club, we use one another to keep the conversation flowing so that we aren’t over thinking the pain or complete exhaustion we may be experiencing. I feel very fortunate to have a group that keeps me going on those long runs that I feel are nearly impossible. It’s amazing how well you get to know people when you run with them 2-4 hours each weekend!

I feel very fortunate to be a part of this neat program and hope that I’ll be able to positively impact girls in my community while sharing my passion for running.