The Every Body Is Beautiful Project

How Sports Bra Squads Can Redefine How You See Strength

Wellness, Movement, RecoveryOphelia's PlaceComment

Warrior for Change Adrian Mellinger is hosting a Sports Bra Squad run in Syracuse, NY as part of Global Sports Bra Squad Day: a movement created by Kelly Roberts that has inspired people of all shapes, sizes and identifies to ditch their shirts and run in their sports bras as a way to redefine what strength looks like … and much, much more. (read about it here).

Adrian is also making this run not only a day of “personal empowerment” around our bodies (which is amazing!), but a day for "social empowerment” by giving back to our cause Ophelia’s Place.

If you’re running in Global #SportsBraSquadDay, consider donating $1 for every mile you run to Ophelia’s Place, which provides support, access to treatment, community and education for those who struggle with an eating disorder, disordered eating, or body image. Small gifts make a BIG impact.

Runners from the 2017 Global Sports Bra Squad Run at Onondaga Lake Park, Syracuse, NY.

Runners from the 2017 Global Sports Bra Squad Run at Onondaga Lake Park, Syracuse, NY.

What do you think about the Sports Bra Squad movement?

I love it! I think it’s a fantastic way to grow as an individual and as a community.

For many, running in a sports bra can be intimidating and nerve wracking, but when our local community is involved, we are reminded that we are not alone. Other people are nervous too. Other people are healing their relationships with their bodies. The sports bra squad is just one way we can support and love one another and ourselves.

Why should people get involved?

For two reasons:

1. For themselves and for their community. Whether or not we realize it, our daily actions send a message to ourselves. In the case of this run, it’s an opportunity to send a message to ourselves that we are valuable, strong, and courageous.

2. The run is also a wonderful opportunity to send a similar message to our neighbors, friends, and family. By participating in this event, we are telling those in our circle that they are dignified and marvelous human beings. We would also be sending a message to the general community that self love and empowerment is for everyone.

I love the phrase “Your Presence is Powerful” and I find it incredibly fitting for this run. By merely showing up, each person is making a clear and impactful statement about what they believe in and value.

2017 Global Sports Bra Squad Run at Onondaga Lake Park, Syracuse, NY.

2017 Global Sports Bra Squad Run at Onondaga Lake Park, Syracuse, NY.

Why do you run? 

I first started running as a way to process different struggles or situations in my life. I had just finished my senior year of college with an internship in Uganda and was starting my first job in the field of mental health.

Running quickly became one of my primary self-care tools. Not only was I dealing with understanding my experiences in Uganda, but I was dealing with some pretty stressful experiences at work. I can clearly recall some of my runs that took place soon after a crisis at my job. In those moments, running became my crying.

I still use running as a form self-care and spend my runs processing whatever is going on in my life, but after several injuries in the past year I also treat every opportunity to run as a gift. It’s a way I practice gratitude to my body and one way I celebrate my inherent strength as a human being. Sometimes, I’m simply in awe of what my body is capable of doing.

How would you describe your relationship to your body? 

Learning to trust.

Not only is my body healing a few broken bones, but I’ve also had to face a few other health issues recently. I’ve had to trust that my body knows what it needs to do to heal. But I’ve also had to trust what my body tells me to feed it or how it wants me to move.

I’ve found it’s really easy to say things like “move in ways that feel good” or “eat what sounds good” when I feel control. But it’s a lot harder to trust when my body is literally broken and my options for moving and eating are limited.

In other words, it’s one thing to say “I trust my body” and it’s another thing entirely to live it out.

How have you learned to cultivate a relationship with your body that’s empowered?

I’ve learned to practice acceptance.

My body’s needs are always evolving, but sometimes the needs aren’t what I expect them to be. My realm of “normal” has essentially been shattered. So I have a choice to either ignore my body and try to do my own thing (ultimately resulting in some sort of disaster) or I can accept whatever my body needs and remind myself that my temporary discomfort with change will result in a healthier life lived.

One practical way I’ve done this is by surrounding myself with individuals who will hear me out when I’m feeling frustrated or antsy and then who will remind me to continue to practice acceptance.