Wanting It

Senior year: I'm on the far left, standing.
Senior year: I'm on the far left, standing.
I think I’ve always been driven to move.

I began dancing at age three, and continued through my sophomore year of high school (tap, jazz, ballet, pointe), when I had to stop because I made Varsity cheerleading.

I’d cheered every year since fifth grade, and thought I could continue to do both, even on Varsity.

But the commitment was enormous, and as the season wore on, I needed to make a choice between the two, and in the end, I quit dancing. Fortunately, I’ve never regretted my decision. (My background in dance no doubt helped me make the squad each year).

As one of four sophomores to make the team, we weren’t necessarily guaranteed spots on the squad for the rest of high school. We had to prove ourselves year after year, and there was really no time for much else. We began training the summer before the football season, always went to cheerleading camp, and our season didn’t end til Thanksgiving, or later.

I made the commitment because it was my passion, and I loved it — even during some really tough times, I knew there was no where else I’d rather be than out on the mat with these girls.

I was pretty shy most of the time (though that surprises most people who know me). But when I was out there competing, or in the middle of the field during half-time performing our half-time show … I was another person. Cheering with those other eleven girls (and one guy, who joined senior year) I trusted with my life, I had no fear, no stage-fright. I somehow was able to zone out and focus solely on our dance moves, cheers and stunts.

And so it went that I pretty much lived and breathed cheerleading from from fifth grade through the end of high school. When I wasn’t in practice (five days a week), or at a football game cheering (every Saturday) I was coaching my little sister’s competition squad with my best friend.

I know the terrible stereotypes out there about cheerleaders, but at my school, cheerleading wasn’t a joke. We were respected. We were smart, involved in other sports/activities off-season, and we were all dead serious about our sport.

Our coach was not your average cheerleading coach. She had no background in dance or stunting, but she learned everything she could, and she was incredibly motivational yet tough at the same time.

Above all, she molded us into athletes and helped us earn the respect we got. Under her tutelage, we ran several miles a day as a warm-up. We spent hours in the weight room each week. And due to our grueling 3-hours-a-day practices where we stunted til we almost collapsed, we had more hand/wrist/ankle injuries than the whole football team combined.

The coolest thing: we were trend-setters. We were the first squad from my high school to get a bid to Nationals in Florida our senior year! (You have probably seen the UCA Competition on ESPN). We didn’t even come close to placing, but the experience was worth every bead of sweat and taped wrist.

Every Friday at the end of practice, our coach would give us each an individual card with a special quote/message relevant to our individual (or squad) performance that week. I can’t thank her enough. Sometimes the words she doled out were of the “tough love” caliber. But mostly, they were motivational.

Sometimes she’d find obscure quotes we’d never heard of. But often, she’d use lines from our own cheers as reinforcement.

This one was one of my favorites, because it reminded me at the time that maybe I wasn’t giving it my all:

“You’ve got to want it, to win it, to take it to the limit.”

I’d go back to the locker room and think, “Wow, she’s right.”

Maybe my Vs could have been tighter, maybe my stunts could have been stronger, or maybe my smile could have been bigger.

If I really wanted it, she reminded me with her quote, I could “win it.” And you know what? Those little wake-up calls always led to an even better performance the next day.

I love that cheer because it is as relevant now as it was then.

“You’ve got to want it, to win it, to take it to the limit.”

New blog readers often ask me how I’ve managed to be chew/spit free for over three months now. The reason is plain and simple: “Because I want it.”

I am choosing pride over guilt, every time I make the decision not to engage in disordered eating behavior … and it’s empowering.

This attitude of “wanting it” is applicable to anything in life. Things just don’t “happen” — we need to incite them, spark them. Change only happens when we are willing to step outside our comfort zones and take action. Thinking about it is a start, but doing it … well, that’s where the proverbial “money” is.

People say they want to recover … but then oftentimes, they don’t take action.

How do I know this? Because that was me, for the first several months of blogging and trying to get better. Looking back, in spite of my thoughts at the time/desire to get better, I didn’t really “want it,” because I was still preoccupied with the weight I’d gained.

It was only recently where the shift occured, about three months ago … where I decided to just STOP THE INSANITY.

And only in the past few weeks I’ve been able to view it as: “Ok I gained weight and the world didn’t come down upon me;” that I’ve been able to look past it and see recovery for what it is: a bumpy, windy, imperfect road with lots of pebbles.

So the truth is, I’m where I am in this moment now because I believe “You’ve got to want it, to win it, to take it to the limit.” It doesn’t mean I’m perfect, and it doesn’t mean I won’t slip up someday. But I want it bad enough.

And in this very moment, I am proud to be who I am … where I am, along this wild road of life. I hope to choose pride over guilt as often as I can. After all, life’s meant to be lived.

How about you? Did you have a motivational coach, teacher, mentor whose advice still resonates today?

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8 thoughts on “Wanting It

  1. “Ok I gained weight and the world didn’t come down upon me”

    I LOVE this statement and have experienced the same thing and while the weight gain sucked, it showed me that my worst “fear” was not as bad as I had always imagined it to be. I think gaining weight to the point of being truly overweight (as in above the high end of the range for me) was liberating in many ways and was an important part of my true recovery from ED.

  2. Thanks, Lara. It’s true; I just look now like I did when I was mid-losing; def.not my thinnest, but not my heaviest, either. I hope you’re right! It felt damn nice to enjoy S’mores with my husband last night and not think twice about it, or obsess over it. The old me would have been upset to even hear the suggestion of Smores if I hadn’t planned on them. What fun is THAT?!

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