The following paragraph is the beginning of my bio on the Mankato Moms Blog website:
“Stephanie is a fitness professional on a mission to undo the damage done by much of her industry when it comes to body image, confidence, and self-worth. She enjoys blogging about her journey as she sheds the “fit chick” label and embraces authentic living from the inside out!
So that gives you a little background on what led me to write an online confidence course for women in the summer of 2016. I was done with feeling like I needed to fit into the box of a “fitness person”. Because the truth is I’m so much more than that and I wanted to break free from the labels that had left me feeling “too much” or “not enough” for so many years.
In writing the course, I mapped out my personal journey for other women to benefit from as they set out on their own unique journey towards self confidence from the inside out. The online version of my course was fairly successful, reaching over 100 women in our community in just a few months, and I saw how it was changing lives. But something was missing. I realized that the same material could make a much bigger impact if it could be shared in person – not just one on one, but in an intimate gathering of women. If there’s one thing I know it’s this;
There is healing in telling your story.
That’s where the idea for the Inside Out: Yoga & Confidence Retreat for Women began. Why yoga? Well, the original online course was a a daily email for 28 days. So if we were going to cram all that material into one weekend, we were going to need to take breaks to move our bodies! Yoga is also is the perfect mode of exercise to compliment the content of this retreat as we work to slow down, be less judgmental, less reactive, less competitive, and more giving of grace towards ourselves.
The first retreat took place in March of 2017. Seven women of different ages, shapes, sizes, occupations and backgrounds gathered together in a yoga studio ready to become vulnerable, to grow, to explore, to learn, to let go, to share, and to become more of who they are. Coming into the weekend they had been prepped with a few questions;
- Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 (1 = extremely low self-confidence, 10 = extremely high)
- Why do you want to be more confident?
- What will having confidence mean you can do? (that you cannot do currently)
(Go ahead and write those questions down as “journal prompts” for later!)
Alicia had sent me a message a few months prior to the retreat asking if she’d be able to handle the yoga classes since she’d be about 4 months pregnant when the weekend rolled around. I responded that we’d absolutely be able to modify the classes to be appropriate for a prenatal practice. I also shared that I was pregnant as well and we discovered that our due dates were only about a week apart!
Clearly we had a connection right from the start based on this coincidence and chatted back and forth about pregnancy in the weeks leading up to the retreat. Once the weekend came we connected on a multitude of other topics that are so prevalent in a woman’s life; body image, shame, self care, judgement, vulnerability.
Over a year later, we’re still close. In fact, just last weekend I attended the first birthday party of the sweet baby girl pictured above who was also present at the retreat, although in utero. No wonder she’s so fierce!
I recently asked Alicia to talk a little bit about the retreat.
ME: So what made you want to sign up for this retreat anyway?
“I saw the ad for the retreat on Facebook and it instantly caught my eye. I am a lover of yoga and honesty. So, the thought of getting in some yoga along with some much needed me time was my draw! I feel that we can always better ourselves no matter what stage of life we’re in – so I saw this chance and jumped at it!”
ME: Talk about what it’s like being vulnerable in a group of women you’ve just met…
“It’s scary and empowering at the same time! Women supporting women is kind of a big deal – we need more of it! Scary because of the thought of being judged but empowering because of the knowledge that we were all there baring our souls together. So there wasn’t any judgement – just raw emotions and feels.
ME: What was your biggest take away or “Ah ha!” moment?
“AH HA! – Embracing imperfection. It’s okay to allow time to work its’ magic rather than me quickly cleaning up the ‘mess’. Sometimes things can wait and they don’t have to be perfect all of the time. Shocking…. I know!”
ME: Are you still using any of the tools that you picked up at the retreat?
“Definitely. The tools I use most often are self-care and self-compassion. Since the retreat I’ve had a baby and life has been hectic – reminding myself to take care of me and what I need physically and emotionally is a big priority, along with giving myself grace. After a baby things didn’t bounce back the way I had envisioned. So, instead of focusing on that I am being more realistic with my time. After a long day of work it’s OKAY to just want to go home and snuggle my baby, have a glass of wine, and eat pizza!!”
ME: (**Shameless Plug Alert**) What would you tell someone who is contemplating signing up for the 2nd annual Inside Out retreat on September 15-16th, 2018?
“Do it! You, you’re worth the investment!!”
ME: Who knows, you might even make a lifelong friend! (totally leading the witness here)
“Obviously you were an added bonus!!!!! It’s been great growing our bond and friendship…and planning our children’s arranged marriage!
But seriously, it can be hard to make new friends once you’re married, in your career and busy with kids. This retreat is a great opportunity to connect with other women in a meaningful way and to become a more authentic and confident version of who you are!!
If you are a lover of honesty and yoga, like Alicia, or if you’re sick of labels and feeling “less than”, like I was. Or whatever your reason is for wanting to feel more confident from the inside out, I would love to see you at this year’s retreat hosted by myself, the Mankato Family YMCA and Mankato Moms Blog.
This year, we are opening up this experience to 16 women in our community. Our expert presenters include Erin Gonzalez, RD, LD, and Rebekah Buege, body confidence coach. I’m especially excited about a new more private location for the retreat at the Profinium place rooftop conference room and terrace. There will be plenty of fresh air and views to take in for a hopefully beautiful September weekend! We also have a surprise field trip and guest presenter in the works – so much to look forward to! Ladies, please consider giving this weekend to yourself!
For answers to any questions, for a detailed itinerary of the weekend or to register; please contact me at [email protected]