Updated: Aug 24, 2021
It’s my life’s purpose to spread the “fitness is fun” motto. It’s what I believe in my heart’s heart, and I want others to know it. To begin spreading this message, I started a cardio dance class for adults revolving around hip-hop, pop, and electronic beats in 2011. It was so much fun— my students and I lived for our dance days. I took another step toward living my life’s purpose in 2015 when I opened Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, which offered fun, cirque-style fitness classes.
As I worked to match the new studio’s identity to my principles and spread the “fitness is fun” message, I knew I was creating brand authenticity for the business. But more importantly, opening the studio had created an opportunity for me to live authentically, which in turn made me feel both centered and grounded.
Living authentically is getting clear about your life’s purpose and true values, and then acting congruently with those beliefs. Needless to say, if you have not yet discovered what you hold dear in life, some soul-searching may be the first order of business before you can begin living authentically. A good place to start looking for your sense of purpose in the world is to consider what makes you unique, or why your friends or family enjoy spending time with you.
Once you’ve worked out your values and beliefs, the second step to living authentically is acting congruently with those beliefs. I think that one of the main reasons people live inauthentically is because of fear: fear of disapproval, fear of being judged, fear of failure. Stopping fear in its tracks and consistently showing up in life as yourself opens the door for magic to happen.
There are different ways to practice authenticity. In addition to crafting brand authenticity for businesses or groups you’re involved with, we each have the opportunity to make sure the relationships we’re fostering are authentic. It can be easy to zone out while scrolling through Facebook instead of taking the time to connect in real life with those around you— don’t let that happen!
And speaking of social media, in this day and age, we have a huge responsibility to practice speaking (and writing) authentically every single day. Like many, I use social media to share my accomplishments, pictures from my vacations, selfies that make me feel beautiful, and other gratifying parts of my life. But I feel that it’s important to avoid giving an illusion of some picture-perfect life, so I try to post about the slumps when the roller coaster of life takes me low, too. In 2017, when I went through multiple surgeries and some subsequent hard recoveries, I experienced deep waves of depression. Thanks to Facebook, many people in our large valley knew about it.
I chose my words very carefully that year. I knew about neuroplasticity, where the pathways in the brain are shaped and reshaped by repeated thoughts and emotions. Basically, thinking happy thoughts makes it easier to think more happy thoughts, while thinking negative thoughts makes it easier to think more negative thoughts. I wanted to leverage neuroplasticity to help pull me out of my depression. But, I didn’t fully buy into the “fake it until you make it” theory because I felt “faking it” was living inauthentically and doing a disservice to what I was going through. So, when people asked how I was doing, instead of saying I was having such a hard time, I would say things like, “I am better than last month.” This allowed me to speak my truth while creating new neural pathways that helped me believe I was healing and eventually helped me to create a happier frame of mind.
Which brings me to practicing authentic happiness. Having struggled with depression for parts of my life, I have contemplated and studied happiness. A concept introduced to me from Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Way in a Wild New World, really resonated with me. Her belief is that true happiness isn’t about living a large life with manic highs, like when your team wins game seven of the World Series, or you get to travel to another country. Sure, we love those kinds of moments, but it isn’t realistic to expect them all the time. You can find authentic happiness in smaller moments, like appreciating a beautiful sunset, playing with your kids, or picking berries in the mountains with your friends. She writes, “true happiness is the sustainable delight in the beautiful moments of ordinary life.”
There are many ways to practice authenticity and live in alignment with your true values. I am here to remind you that you honor yourself and your life’s mission by getting proper rest, nutrition, and exercise. It may surprise you that, as a fitness coach, I advocate for prioritizing sleep above all things (even a workout), but it’s because I know the importance of sleep to all of our body’s systems. And besides, it’s incredibly difficult to have quality movement or stick to a nutrition plan, let alone pursue your life’s mission, when you are exhausted. Since the New Year is upon us and people are setting resolutions, this is a timely conversation. If you’ve historically struggled to make time for things like rest and exercise, consider the effects of self-care (or lack thereof) on your authenticity and your life’s mission. And besides, self-care doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, fitness can be fun (in case you haven’t heard).
Authored by Mindy Cochran. Mindy is a columnist for "Montana Woman Magazine." Her column "The Real Levitation Experience" shares expertise for elevating health & wellness that she has acquired through her certifications as a personal trainer and life coach. Mindy is also founder of Kalispell’s Levitation Nation Aerial Studio, where the catch phrase “fitness is fun” is embodied alongside a culture of movement & women empowerment. For more about Mindy, please visit: https://www.levitationnation.org/mindy