Interview #7 of 52: “Just take baby steps!”

I follow Devon on social media but I’m also excited to say that I train along side of her at my gym!  I’ve watched this girl in action and she’s truly incredible!  At 40 weeks pregnant I watched her bang out 20lb renegade rows with her belly just an inch above the ground and I’ve seen her leave her clients in a sweaty mess!  She’s fun, she’s driven and she’s a total rockstar!

I wanted to include her in this series because I had no idea she ever struggled with confidence.  I look at her body compared to mine and I’m like “how the heck would she EVER have confidence issues!?”  But one day she commented on a post I made about my struggle with eating disorders, saying she too had body image issues!  I was floored!  When we talked it made me realize even more that we all struggle in our own way and this series is so important to celebrate each other!

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Devon is a mother of 2, wife, sister, daughter and balancing it all into one cohesive life!  She is also a personal trainer and nutrition coach.  “Working out is my sanity” she says as she talks about how she needs it and more than anything!  Working out keeps her calm and gives her a sense of empowerment. Aside from fitness Devon loves to sing and dance!  For many years she pursued musical theater and now she does it for fun!  She loves her girls nights.  They all come over, drink some wine and she shows them how to cook!  But Devon’s entire world is her family.  She makes sure she doesn’t work more than 15 hours a week so that she can raise her own children.  I admire that very much!

One of the big reasons I wanted to highlight Devon is because of my own perception of her!  Not to sound stalkery but Devon had the look that I had always strived for and was always unsuccessful … um duh genetics I can’t shave off my hips! :)  But in all sincerity I had NO idea she ever struggled.  Many of my clients have commented on how “perfect” her body is so when she shared part of her struggle I thought it was valuable for others to hear her back story so they (and me) could stop comparing!

It all kind of came to a head for Devon after she stopped dancing.  Remember that musical theater background from before, well once that ended around age 22-23 so did all the physical work that came from dance.  After that chapter came to a close she started down a bad path.  That path lead her to gain 25 pounds within a few short months and she felt like total crap!  “I felt like a different person trapped in my own body” she said.  At the time her roommate had just become a personal trainer and Devon started taking her bootcamp classes.  “After the first workout I realized I loved it!”  She started taking the class one time a week, then one became two and so on!  It was her friend Heather that inspired her to become a trainer!  It wasn’t just her physical strength but her mental strength as well!

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Even as she trained she was still struggling with her image.  It took her time to learn different ways to workout and what worked with HER body.  “I did 2 hours of cardio daily and worked out 7 days week and was so focused on my stomach.  It was never good enough.”  I can remember so vividly doing the exact same thing to my own body.  No amount of working out was ever good enough.  What we both didn’t know then is what we were doing was more destructive than good - both mentally and physically.  To think 2 totally different girls with 2 totally different body types feeling the exact same way…it just goes to show we need to celebrate ourselves and each other that much more!   

Devon’s journey was in large part creating a shift from how she looked to how she felt.  “My confidence level shifted dramatically once I started focusing on how STRONG i am instead of how skinny I am.  Its so empowering to feel strong and capable and you walk around with unwavering confidence.”  And now I see that confidence every day at the gym.  Her videos show her rocking complicated workouts with grace and ease!  She is truly an example working through your self imposed barriers only to come out stronger on the other side!

The old Devon lived in comparison complex.  “When things are hard or when something seems overwhelming I just didn’t even try” she said talking about how the fear of failure or not being good enough would stop her.  For a long time she shied away from lifting heavy because she “knew” she couldn’t do it.  

The new Devon lifts…and lifts A LOT!   And she’s doing it with ease because she’s dedicated herself to the process.  “It’s about progress not perfection” she said.  “People have a hard time with the process.  No one ever just gets there. You have to put in the work.” 

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The work she put in to get to where she is now had a lot to do with her friend Heather who inspired her down this path in the first place.  Devon would post a video and Heather would respond “Make it harder…” The two went back and forth with videos on how to make it harder and challenge each other!  Then their clients got involved and it became a thing.  Devon started having fun with her workouts and soon the self judgement was something of the past!  She took baby steps, then a half step, then a whole step.  “I stopped listening to that self doubt and just made it fun!”  Can we all take a chapter out of her story and just make it fun already!!  When your activities are wrap in fun the obstacles and barriers don’t seem as big and scary anymore! 

Another turning point for Devon was after the birth of her first baby.  After witnessing the amazing things that a female body can do she feels incredibly strong and empowered.  She’s carried that empowering feeling ever since.  “You’re training your body for the hardest thing it’s ever going to go through!” She said referring to how she worked out until the last day of her pregnancy!  And her drive didn’t stop there, she was back to working out 3 weeks later.

I am so impressed with Devon’s dedication to her overall well being.  It’s no longer about being “perfect” or skinny!  It’s about being strong, capable and treating your body with respect.  

Her three tips that brought her out of where she was and into the light of where she is now are:

  1. Find some way to move every day.  And make sure it’s something you enjoy doing!  That way you’ll continue to do it!
  2. Balance is so important.  Have a cheat meals and wine with girlfriends, then next day go back to lifestyle.  That’s her favorite part!
  3. Strive for progress not perfection. You’ll never be happy if perfection is your goal. Forgive yourself and know that it’s all a process.
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And for the person who is deciding TODAY to get started on their health journey she reminds us to just take baby steps!  “If you set too lofty of goals you’ll find a way to not meet those goals!”  Oh man this is so true!  We try to go from 0-60 immediately and we get overwhelmed.  Taking our goals and chunking them out into baby steps will allow us to reach and eventually surpass our goals!  

What I learned from Devon’s story is we all have our struggles.  Her’s wasn’t 100 pounds but 25 made her feel like a completely different person.  She felt through those emotions and took baby steps to get herself back on track. She’s an example to her daughters that self love and self care mean more than a number on the scale or the size of your thighs.  She is showing them how to WORK for what you want in life and how it feels so good when you do it! 

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Thank you for taking the time to engage in my 7th interview of 52 inspiring women!  Please feel free to share your comments, feelings and send this to a friend you think would benefit from reading this!  If you want me to interview someone you find incredibly inspiring, I would be truly honored to meet them! This is a journey that has no parameters or rules!  Let’s have fun with it and continue to spread the message of empowerment, love and kindness - to ourselves and others!

You can follow Devon on Instagram @DButlerFitness

xo

Becky