Once upon a time I weighed over 200 pounds...I didn't feel at home in my body and I was extremely uncomfortable. Working out was a chore for me, not something that felt good.
That was until my girlfriends introduced me to what would soon become my new obsession: HOOPING! Once I got over my fears that I was too overweight to do it, I couldn't stop. Hoopers will know what I’m talking about when I say that I got it bad: the full blown hooping bug, complete with I-can't-leave-my-house-without-my-hoop-itis.
The result was that I hooped my way to health and happiness...I dropped 50 pounds. I made new friends and learned what it was like to feel at home in my body, especially while in my hoop. A born and bred entrepreneur, I saw the amazing potential of this practice. One night while hooping, I looked up at the sky and said to my best friend and HoopMamma* Jessica, "One day I will own a hula hoop company and make DVDs that teach people how to do this and sell them all over the world."
Fast forward 7 years: I am one of the partners and the CEO of the largest hula hoop fitness company in the world. We make instructional DVDs and send them to our customers across the globe; we have taught hundreds of thousands of people how to hoop; trained thousands of teachers; touched countless lives and we're at the front of a movement which is poised to become a global phenomenon. Sweet success, you would think...
Except something happened along the road to this point: I lost myself. As many women in of midst of the pressures of family crisis, life transitions, relationship issues, financial strains and fighting to keep a business alive, have done before- I forgot to take care of myself.
It happened slowly, as it usually does: I started working longer hours, spending less time with friends, drinking less water, sleeping less, breathing less, moving less, stressing more and eating more (usually at the same time) . I wasn't hooping every day and eventually stopped completely. The weight that hooping had initially helped me to lose slowly crept back on.
As my role in the company (and my body) got bigger and bigger my visibility got smaller and smaller. I basically hid, refusing TV press opportunities and making myself virtually invisible to our incredible community. Why? I was ashamed. I felt like a fraud. How could I be “letting myself go” while running a fitness company!? This constant loop played in my head, a negative mantra, and the shame built and built. I tried to diet and failed, and worst of all, when I picked up my hoop, previously the source of my joy and feelings of success, it just felt like a chore. I felt like I had failed. It was the worst feeling in the world: I was trapped between my love of what I had helped to build and my sense of being excluded from the joy and sense of accomplishment it was bringing to so many others. I even thought of leaving the company and team that I love so deeply and just couldn't. I felt trapped.
I knew I couldn't go on like this...so a few months ago I started soul searching... I started asking for help, reading books, opening up to friends and family and getting honest about where I really was. I opened up about my struggle with our amazing team, the same people I felt I was failing by letting myself go, the same people that had seen me hiding away in the office. Their support and faith in me fueled me. I stopped feeling so guilty and started to imagine what it might feel like to feel good in my body again and slowly things started shifting... Little by little I'm making different food choices, and am starting to walk or swim in the morning before work. Most importantly, I have started hooping again little by little. It feels like making up with a best friend.
Then I had one of those "light bulb moments:" I'm not the CEO of a "fitness" company, I'm the CEO of a company that exists to spread joy, fun, love and feeling good. I'm also part of a community connected by a shared love. One that is made up of women at different stages of their journey towards health and fitness and committed to feeling good in their bodies. Given that so many amazing hoopers have shared their journeys, their good and bad days, their “before and during's” with us on a daily basis, who was I to be invisible on my journey?
So here I am, outing myself: I am a fitness company CEO with 60 pounds to let go of (I have already released 10!). And this is what I know to be true: I am learning every day to love my body right now, just as I am. I am learning every day to walk (sometimes skipping and sometimes limping) my path towards increased health and well-being with this love. I am part of an community in which sharing the joy of fun fitness with others does not come at the sacrifice of our own. I love hooping and I love our company. I am filled with gratitude that every day we get to spread the joy of hooping further and further across the globe.
I've been so honored to hear your stories over the years. You've moved and inspired me to share mine as we grow (or shrink!) together.Happy Hooping! Melissa
*Definition: HoopMamma (n.)
1. That special person who first turned you on to hooping!
2. An amazing Mom who hoops.
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