Mark Fisher Fitness - Weighing in... on Permission

Weighing in…On Permission

This collage spans the last few years of my life beginning four years ago, when I felt the best I’d ever felt physically. I was wearing a bikini and posting pictures of myself. This was a new world for me and I have to admit, it felt great.

But what felt great wasn’t necessarily that fact that I was posting pictures—it was the fact that I was having such a good time in my body. I had been on a cruise ship working and let’s just say you see ALL kinds of people in bathing suits on a ship.

It dawned on me that I’d created a specific set of criteria to which I needed to adhere before I’d give myself permission wear a bathing suit. Once I weighed a certain number or wore a certain size I’d put on a bikini.

Then I saw women from all over the world in all shapes and sizes rocking out their two-pieces or even their sexy one-piece suits, because it’s not really just about a bikini, is it?

I didn’t notice their bodies. I noticed how much fun they were having or how confident they moved around the world in the body they had.

I did not do that.

In my head, I’d made up a story that I needed to weigh 160lbs to be ALLOWED to wear a two-piece.

***Umm…I have no memory of ever weighing 160 pounds in my adult life! And I STILL don’t weigh that NOR did I in any of those pics!

It doesn’t matter what the number is but I’ll share (and this scares the crap out of me) in each of these pics I weigh somewhere between 174 and 180…how do I know?

I share my weight not in search for comments or compliments or criticism. I share those scale numbers because I think there may be someone out there who has let the scale determine things for him or her. The scale has been the deciding factor for what many of us have ALLOWED ourselves to do, wear, be.

Perhaps I was blessed with the cruise ship bubble life where I found the courage to say “SCREW IT” or “GO FOR IT!” I didn’t know anyone, really. I had only known some of these folks for a few months. No one knew my history. No one knew my insecurities and fears. Leaping out of that comfort zone was fun and scary – even in that bubble life I was not saved from that voice in my head saying:

“Who do you think you are?”

“You shouldn’t wear a bikini if you have rolls when you sit down.”

“You weigh too much to do this.”

And yes: full disclosure, I would suck it in, find my good side, and use a filter. But I was trying to leap out of my comfort zone—and those tactics were my safety net. Our ego will always try to keep us safe and when I was posing on a beach with girls half my age that kicked their face for a living – my ego was loud and clear:

You’re the biggest one in the pic!

Suck it in!!!

Arm on hip!!

Left side! Left side!!!

And now?

Fast forward from ship life to land life and I find myself working with a health coach. I knew I needed to dig deeper into my relationship with food and with my body. I lucked out and met my Coach and struck gold with her!!! This woman led me through the biggest “cracking open” I’d ever felt in my almost four decades. It was with her that I realized that on the ship, I’d given myself PERMISSION to try something new – something I wanted that was chock full of discomfort and required a ton of vulnerability. So – if that ship life bubble was the permission or a green light I needed to ask for what I wanted, or to do what I had always desired doing….my Coach asked:

“Where else in your life are you seeking permission from someone or something other than yourself?”

BOOM! MIND BLOWN!! I spent 6 months crying non-stop!! I believe the crying was years of pain I had absorbed from negative self-talk. The tears were my way of releasing that pain from my body. Glennon Doyle Melton (author of Love Warrior) describes this kind of unravelling beautifully when sharing her story. She writes:

“I was crying so often because I was paying attention. I was FINALLY paying attention to myself. There were desires that had been ignored for decades that could now speak up…and their voices were tears.”

Looking back, those months filled with tears were not sad months; they were beginning months. They were fresh start months– months during which I identified that I was the only person who could truly give me permission to ask for and go for what I want in life. Those were the months when my desire to do new things was born. I began to explore strength training, surfing, cooking—even the early stages of building my own coaching practice. In those months of trying new things I started to see that new action–action that made me feel empowered and whole. That action was how I could respond to that voice in my head–with new behavior that made me feel that badass and sexy and strong was the the answer.

New action quieted that old voice of fear. I think that each time I tried something new I silenced those fears and doubts.

Those months gave me space to discover what kind of trainer I want to be.

Those months are why I have a new desire to express my creative self in theatre.

Those months are why I open my heart up a little bit more to people in my life.

Those months are truly where I found me: a woman giving herself permission to not know the answers but to ask the questions as much as she’d like.

How do you start?

  • Grab a book by Brené Brown or Geneen Roth.
  • Find a podcast that lifts you and evokes an emotional response. I love the Good Life Project.
  • The right life coach or health coach can really lead you into major discovery. Ask around for suggestions.

For me, this kind of investigation and curiosity was critical for revealing what’s been hiding under a lifelong desire to lose weight.

Ask. Explore. Mess up. Ask again. Dig in. Laugh. Cry. Cry in public. Laugh alone. Do the things you’ve been waiting for permission from someone else to do. Give yourself the green light.

Steph Wilberding is a Ninja Trainer and resident Show Choir Captain at Mark Fisher Fitness. She’s also an ACE Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Functional Strength Coach, and Certified Personal Health Coach. You can find her online at and @stephwilberding.

Close popup