Sharing Strong Women: Shelby Blakeman


Wow I am SO excited for today's post. While I love sharing my life on the blog, the truth is, I only know so much as a 20 year old. The idea to share the stories and advice of other strong women in my life and community, particularly in health and wellness, has been swirling around in my head for a while and I am so glad it is finally coming to fruition. I'm lucky that I have so many strong women around me that have set such an incredible example for me and I can't wait to share a few of them with you over the next few weeks.

Today, I'm introducing you guys to Shelby Blakeman. She just graduated this past May from the University of Kentucky and is a sorority sister of mine. During her time at UK, she became an instructor at Sweat Lex and started her own online boutique, Threads, that she will be relaunching soon. I'm so inspired by her hard work ethic, contagious positivity, outlook on health and fitness, and willingness to share her story on the blog. I know you guys will love her as much as I do!!!

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Health to me isn’t just about what I eat and exercise. It is extremely important to me that my health be focused on MENTAL wellness first, body second. If I am working towards peace mentally, my physical health follows. I believe that a focus on physical health without mental health is not only ineffective for the long term, but potentially dangerous and can lead to a flawed relationship with food and exercise.

In high school I lost 40 pounds after becoming fed up with being unhappy with my body. I woke up one day with this thought: “I have one body. One single body and one life. I can choose to be miserable and unhealthy. Or I can see what happens if I work on loving my self and taking care of myself. I have nothing to lose. The time will pass anyway. Let’s try and stick with this and see what happens.” It was like someone lit a fire under my ass and I was ready to go and unstoppable. I hated working out but I would find ways to sweat that were fun for me like walks around my neighborhood & doing random stuff at the gym. As long as I was moving and active I felt good. The weight came off slowly (THE KEY TO MAINTAINING WEIGHT-LOSS!) and I stayed consistent.

Nutrition was absolutely KEY in my weight loss. I truly believe that if weight loss is the goal, your eating is the most important thing. I lost the weight over my senior year by eating healthy foods and cutting out JUNK! There is no MAGIC pill, potion, or workout routine and anyone who tries to sell you the “secret” is LYING.

While I am extremely impressed with my dedication, there wasn’t much of a balance- I don’t think I ate ice cream for like 6 months. (Can’t imagine going a week without it now) 😬 When I came to college I was able to eat healthily but was not taking care of my mental health and was really neglecting taking care of my brain. This started to play out in certain ways over the first two years of college but more on that later.

During my freshman year, I found Sweat Lex which is now where I teach barre and cycle classes. I discovered a love for group fitness. I really never looked forward to working out until I tried these classes. I LOVE the motivation that comes from being in a room of people sweating together. I started working the front desk at Sweat until almost 2 years ago my boss finally convinced me to become an instructor. After my training I realized this is my PASSION! I absolutely love teaching. To me every class is like a performance where I get to lead and inspire. Selecting my playlist, planning my classes, and meeting new clients truly refreshes me in a way that I treasure!! I am so grateful. I know Sweat and group fitness will be apart of my life forever- we’re opening a new location very soon and I can’t wait to teach there, it’s so exciting to see and be a part of the growth of the business.

Now that I have graduated college and am dipping my toes in the real world, I can’t help but reflect on the journey that I have been on with health and fitness over the last few years. I have lost and gained weight, ate super healthy and felt great and ate super healthy and felt like shit, felt amazing and confident in my body and the next day hated the way I looked. I have binged, I have messed up. After these struggles with body image/ body acceptance I have come to this conclusion. To achieve peace with our physical bodies YOU HAVE to start with your mental health.Because I was at what was supposed to be my “goal” weight. I was eating my idea of the “perfect” amount of calories in a day. I was STILL NOT HAPPY WITH MYSELF??! What!!! So frustrating.That’s when I realized I had to change what my idea of health was. Why did I think that achieving those goals was going to make me love myself if I didn’t love myself to begin with?It was time for a CHANGE. But now I have learned that breakdowns are sometimes right before breakthroughs. After living with overwhelming anxiety and depression and adhd for months I got help and I’m SOOO not ashamed! It was the best thing I EVER did. A year ago I started seeing my therapist and started taking medicine and I am in such a better place. I read self help books, meditate, watch a ton of inspiring YouTube videos and listen to podcasts and follow lots of positive accounts. I have become much more spiritual and in tune with the world around me. Now I believe that I am in control of 100% of my life (we all are) and know that I am capable of living the life I’ve always dreamed of.. right now I really feel that I am!!!!

Right now I am focused on mental well-being and learning more about healing my body with foods and holistic approaches after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s.For me now it’s NOT about the numbers or macros or pounds it’s about nutrients and nourishment and strength. I’m working to achieve balance in all areas of my life. Now I do not believe in diets at all. The diet industry is designed to make money off of the consumer. I’m working on thinking of all foods as neutral (it takes time to not think of calories as evil since we are told that so much!!!) I love ice cream, pizza, wine, being lazy and I also love vegetables and taking care of my body.

I realize that I am so grateful for my body and all that it does for me!!! I also realize now that mindset is absolutely everything. We are all capable of having everything we want. Life is supposed to be easy and fun and playful... my goal is to help everyone else around me see that. So for now, you’ll find me decorating my house I just moved into with my bf of 6 years and new doggie (5 diy projects in progress at the moment)... teaching at Sweat, preparing for the relaunch and rebrand of my business Threads (cant wait), and working on making each day purposeful and wonderful. πŸ’•

Baigin thank you so much for letting me share my story and if I could share any advice to your readers it would be that your health journey is not linear and to be prepared for bumps along the road, to always love yourself through every stage even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be, and to view health as not just a way to change your external appearance but a way to invest in yourself. You only have one home so you might as well take care of itπŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

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Follow Shelby on Instagram here and check out her classes at Sweat- I love her classes!!! 

Thanks for reading xx.

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