When’s the last time you told someone to…GET LOST?!
You probably didn’t think of being “lost” as a great thing. But, sometimes the detour that gets you “lost” is ultimately the detour that leads you home.
A detour is many things – unexpected, a nuisance, difficult, hard to grapple with, frustrating, – but it can be beautiful.
My vision is a world where “detours” in life are everyday blessings.
What does your detour look like?
How can it create the world of your dreams?
Right now, that road may look like a dead-end, but keep traveling with an open mind.
Keep dreaming – Remember: Martin Luther King Jr. once gave a riveting “I have a dream” speech.
It was NOT the “I have a plan” speech!
Find the gifts of not knowing how your detour leads to your dream….
And Nicola, quite a Detourist, has truly found the gifts of her detour, not in spite of, but because of her struggles. Take it away, Nicola!
My name is Nicola and I’m a Detourist.
While some detourists have a specific life ‘event’ that directs them on a different path, I consider my own detour to be an unplanned entire section within my life.
In high school, I was 94 pounds and struggled on many levels with an eating disorder. I don’t really know when it started and when it ended, but it was awful and I do not wish the experience on anyone.
I had all kinds of little tricks to ensure I could get away with eating as little as possible, and I was obsessed with exercise. I would shove bits of food in my pockets rather than in my mouth during family dinners, and I even remember sneaking off to the elliptical in the middle of the night because I wanted to burn some extra calories. It was a game with myself – how skinny could I get?
This time in my life is not one that I am particularly proud of, and it negatively impacted many people I loved and who cared about me. The road to recovery and self-discovery was long and hard, and one that I am still on to this day.
Stories and strength training were what brought me back on track.
I learned that I was not alone in my struggles to love myself and my body, and that many other girls had gone through similar experiences. I found some incredible blogs and role models along the way who inspired me and helped me overcome my eating disorder and the mental barriers I faced. I also started going to the gym and lifting weights with my younger brother. I was very weak, and I needed to build my body up and get strong again. I remember being so self conscious and insecure, and my younger brother had to help me lift the empty barbell.
My eating disorder was an opportunity to find my best possible healthy self, and I am so thankful for my family and friends who were patient and supportive of me along the way. Through my own health ups and downs I became very passionate about the concept of health, and after high school I enrolled in Health Sciences at Western University. I have been growing and exploring ever since.
I am now entering my 4th year of university, and I have never been more driven and excited for the future. I continue to love my academic studies, while balancing extensive extracurricular involvement including Student Council, Co-Chair and Organizer of Western’s Student Research Conference, and Co-Founder of Western’s Out of Province Student Association. For me, improving the “health” of others has become about improving life circumstances, recognizing distributions of power and social norms, and creating enabling environments with opportunities for individuals to reach their full potential.
Somewhere along the way during university – between a couple years of triathlon training – lifting weights made an appearance again.
Last spring, a simple smile and introduction brought a new detour to my life after meeting the manager of my university gym. She was an accomplished powerlifter, and after witnessing my passion for sports and competing encouraged me to give an upcoming meet a shot. What was powerlifting? With some mentorship, I soon found myself squatting, benching, and deadlifting!
I fell in love with the powerlifting platform immediately at my first meet, and at my first competition managed to set all the meet records. I then went on to qualify for provincials where I set all the provincial records. Next stop? I am registered to compete at Canadian Powerlifting Nationals in February, with a dream to compete internationally one day. I have come a long way since not even being able to lift the bar.
My story includes powerlifting and the celebration of what our bodies can do, rather than what we look like. It was a channel for me to become the best possible version of myself both inside and outside the gym. Through writing and being open about sharing my own health story, I have come to realize that we all have our own unique and powerful story to share that can be used to motivate and inspire others.
That’s where #storiesnotselfies came in. The hashtag and idea was born from a Womens Empowerment Series event held at a local gym, and the sense of community it created inspired me to build and grow the initiative. Since the event, I have started a small blog and I have been dedicated to sharing stories from women around the world – whatever health and happiness means to them. Every Wednesday I also feature a #womancrushwednesday, showcasing a positive role model in the community.
#storiesnotselfies, has been my small way to redefine societies definition of health and fitness, as well as build confidence within my peers. Too often we see half naked photos of women and girls, which emphasize insecurity and are not a true reflection of what a strong woman is, and what constitutes a healthy and happy girl.
I am no longer the insecure girl trapped in an eating disorder, but a woman who radiated strength both inside and out. I was recently recognized as one of 10 students in Canada as a 3M National Student Fellow, and during our keynote speech at the conference I incorporated powerliting into my message in order to teach over 700 people of all ages and backgrounds in the audience to squat. Just like the small smile and words of encouragement I was given at the gym that sparked my own powerlifting story, I hope to lead by example and be a positive role model to spark others to create and continue to write their own story.
That’s why…I #LoveMyDetour!
Whats your story? Whats your beautiful detour? More information about the #storiesnoteselfies blog and initiative can be found at www.storiesnotselfies.com
Thanks Nicola. College can be a scary time, but it’s also an opportunity for us to find our own way – even if we have to struggle a bit to get there. It’s OK to get lost. Just love the journey you’re on and get excited for a trip full of beautiful surprises.
Where will you travel today?
It doesn’t matter if you can’t answer that quite yet. Just keep going.