Finding a Family in Fitness

My Journey To Fit

Warning: This blog post contains vulnerable moments – my ladies will feel me on this one! 😃

We all want that thing which will make life spark for us. We all want to view ourselves as beautiful, capable, good enough.

At a time where I felt completely lost, my story will hopefully shed light on the idea that when you believe in what’s possible, things fall into place.

This is my journey in fit.

Growing Up

In the first grade, I decided in ballet class that my thighs were bigger than everyone else’s. Something was wrong with my body. How do those moments, at seven years old, stay with us for so long?!

Since then, I’d always been what you could call “in shape.” Never too far from what was considered average, always active with sports, stayed away from Wonder Bread… you know the drill. At the same time, I “knew my angles,” to look good and hide my insecurities as I judged myself.

I know I’m not alone. There are many kinds of body-shaming, among women AND men, and all are valid because those awful feelings feel REAL. We’ve all used external sources (pounds on the scale, number of miles ran, Facebook likes, you-name-it) to get that feel-good approval or sense of belonging that we all crave.

This love-hate relationship lasted about 18 years. I had a series of previous diets and ways or exercising that were difficult to stick to and left me feeling more powerless each time.

It was frustrating and when I hit rock bottom…  something had to change.

Finding Family in Fitness

When I combined the power of food and exercise, things took off for me. No surprise there, as this is the recipe (pun intended?) to stellar health.

However, diet and exercise alone were not what made my transformation so effortless this time around.

The game-changer for me? Community.

Community was what I had been lacking before. Sure, I had a group of friends and we loved (and still love) all of those Saturday nights at The Warren and The Ivy. Still, I had no connection or community around my health. Because of community, I found myself excited to share on social media with accountability partners (now my real-life friends, too!) or hit my favorite local studios with a girlfriend.

I knew something changed when I finally stopped weighing myself. Why? I was getting way more satisfaction from being connected to fitness friends than any number of the scale could give me validation for. I was accepted for where I was on my journey and we were in it together.

Moral of the story

This journey is so not about losing weight, not about what workouts to do to make you get fit, not about what food to eat to make you thin. It’s about accepting ourselves in this moment and being on the same team wherever we are in our journey. I no longer have to build my health, meals, workouts, etc. around circumstances, expectations of others, or fear. And when I do, I have the ability to notice and course correct.

The Atlanta fitness community is powerful. I’ve seen people have these lightbulb moments during my timing teaching at FORME Studios and I’ve seen the ATL fitness community raise thousands of dollars for young girls with events like good4girls.

I feel grateful to be on this journey with hundreds of Atlantans and women across the country.

“Community Connection Over Individual Results” is my simple mindset shift that inspired me to forget external validation and find my WHY.

What simple mindset shift inspires YOU?


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About The Author

Lauren Stickney (Cunningham) is a fitness instructor in Atlanta who is committed to all women seeing and knowing themselves are whole and complete, no matter where they are in their journey. You can find Lauren studying to be an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, teaching cardio dance classes, or planning the next good4girls charity event. Aside from her passion for women’s health, Lauren loves spending QT with her husband and dog, hitting up Dekalb Farmer’s Market for shopping trips with her girlfriends, or in a coffee shop doing her “real job” as a Marketing Manager for a health services company.

Follow Lauren on social:

Instagram: @lauren_atl



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