Holy crapsticks, I am 35. How did that happen?!
Birthdays always tend to make me a bit reflective, but this year moreso than others. The big 3-5 feels more significant than other years not because it feels old, but because I finally feel comfortable and confident as me. And isn’t that what fitness— and being a FitFluential Ambassador— is really all about, learning to love and embrace ourselves for better and for worse?
Society paints 30 and beyond as this downhill period when we start to shrivel up like prunes; yet turning 35 feels to me like a renewal. Finally, after the awkward teens and still-awkward 20s, I have figured out enough about my Badass Journey to enjoy where I am, the lessons that got me here, and where I am headed.
I know I am supposed to help others through fitness. I know I am fortunate to have supportive and inspiring mentors and examples, many of them fellow FitFluential Ambassadors. I know that fitness— living it, breathing it, teaching it, writing about it— feels more right than anything ever has.
“Shannon, Age 25” had a lot to learn and struggle through. I see some of my fitness clients that age dealing with it right now. No doubt, “Shannon at 45” will say the same thing in 10 years. But I believe in sharing knowledge and truths to help others, even when it means being brutally honest.
So here are 5 Badass Truths I Wish I’d Known When I was 25:
1. Perfect is perfectly imperfect: A classic Type A perfectionist, I used to live and breathe and angst over “perfect.” I was sure I had to eat perfect, look perfect, study perfect, exercise perfect. It gave me an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise that, in hindsight, held me back. As I turn 35, I am so glad I let loose my former definition of “perfect.” And when I see other women beating themselves up over the little imperfections, I wish they would let go, too. Today, if I have a “perfect” day of clean eating, cool. But that doesn’t define who I am or where I am going. I can’t get rid of my Type A DNA, so yes I aim high every day. But I also know magazine photos are heavily touched up, chocolate chip cookies won’t make or break me, and a less than stellar 5K time isn’t disaster. In fact, it’s the best reason to try harder next time. Perfect is perfectly imperfect.
2. Strong kicks skinny’s badass: My muscular quads and round butt— the result of so many lunges, cycling classes, and bootcamp sessions— make it tough to find jeans and dress pants that fit. Oh, well, so be it! I will happily live in my favorite Lululemon and Lorna Jane pants. The 25-year-old me, like too many young women out there, wanted that whole dainty supermodel vibe. The 35-year-old me wants to be able to run 12 rounds of stadiums, do 30 boy pushups without stopping, and hold a plank for more than 4 minutes. Strong trumps skinny, all day long.
3. Food is friend, not foe: When I stopped seeing food as a barometer of my self control and, instead, as the fuel that allows me to perform at my strongest, my world opened up. I got stronger, faster, and— whattaya know— leaner. At 25, frankly, I ate to prove to myself how little I could eat. It sucked. I see others struggling through it, and my heart breaks a little. At 35, I eat healthy portions of real food and healthy snacks that fuel me to be stronger, more powerful, and more energetic for my students and clients. Cake isn’t the enemy. My life is more enjoyable for having figured that out. Cake is, in fact, something to look forward to on the day I turn 35…and, on some days, just because!
4. Know-it-alls are ignorant: What 25-year-old doesn’t think they know it all? Fitness reminds me of this every single day. Whether it’s learning to use TRX RIP Trainers for bootcamps, or taking a master class with the best Schwinn cycling instructors around, I am constantly humbled by how much more there is to learn. That learning curve is what every birthday now represents to me, in a way I could not have fathomed 10 years ago. A few weeks ago, I started a list of my fitness goals for age 35. I will keep doing that every year until I’m too old and blind to read my own writing. Because the minute we think we know it all is the minute we start to get really dumb.
5. Pushups make wrinkles go away: Well, not really. But as we get older, fitness makes our official age less and less relevant. Earlier this month at the IDEA fitness conference in San Diego, I watched Jack LaLane’s 86-year-old widow bang out 20 boy push-ups in front of hundreds of fitness enthusiasts far younger. I listened to Jane Fonda, looking amazing at 74, talk about how the fitness industry has changed since she took it by storm decades ago. I took workshops from industry veterans who have been doing fitness for 25-plus years, but remain strong enough to kick my badass in a class. If we can be blessed with health and strength by the time we qualify for those senior discounts, who cares about the wrinkles?
Shannon Colavecchio is an ACE-Certified group fitness instructor in Florida, where she leads bootcamps, group cycling and TRX classes and personal training sessions while juggling her “day job” as a marketing and public relations director and wellness coordinator. Through her company and blog of the same name, Badass Fitness, Shannon aims to build a “Badass Army” of fitness recruits.