Introducing Emma, our positive body competition winner

17 Sep 2019

We believe there are many ways to support positive body image, this is just one. 

Back in May we ran a competition alongside our Positive Body Image series, where the winner got a £100 contribution from us towards a project of choice. Whether that was raising money for a charity or cause that supports a healthier body image or taking on a challenge to change perceptions of body image.

The winner of that competition was Emma from John Lewis and Partners. We sat down with Emma to discuss all things positive body image and to find out what she wants to do with her prize money.

1. Hey Emma, how does it feel to have won?

Really good! When I entered it was one of the 'I'll enter even though I know there's no chance of me winning' kind of moments so it was definitely a shock to win. 

2. How has your relationship with your body image been in the past?

It's changed a lot over the years. I was a dancer and cheerleader throughout most of my life so being so active meant I felt confident with my body as I was strong and fit and in dance wear 24/7. As I have progressed into working life I have felt that confidence slip and I can worry a lot about my weight and body image.

I have found myself dieting and doing a lot of exercise in various different ways over the years even though I am healthy and don't actually need to lose any weight. I am now starting to gain more confidence and want to share this with those around me and allow others to be happy with their own body.

3. What were your key learnings from the Positive Body Image series and the campaign that Unmind ran? Has it changed your relationship with your body in any way?

I learnt that I've come a long way already and I just need to focus on actually believing in myself and stop worrying about what others think. I thought it was really interesting when the series encouraged me to think about the different elements of body image and the fact that functionality is so often forgotten about.

Functionality is the number 1 thing I focus on with my body, I want to be fit, healthy, strong and comfortable and I do not ever weigh myself as that's when I can often go on a downward spiral. 

4. Did you complete any challenges with your team at work? If so, how did they go?

I didn't complete any challenges with my team at work, but I have lead my team in a full guided meditation on gratefulness from the Unmind App and everyone loved it. Maybe I should introduce them to this series! 

5. Tell us about the goal you want to achieve. Why is this important to you?

My goal is to learn how to swim properly so that I can complete a run-swim. A run swim is a combination of running and swimming in a race environment (this still sounds so scary to me right now).

I know how to swim, but I would never have the confidence to go to a pool because I feel other people would judge me. Swimming in a race would be an even bigger achievement for me because I am terrified of it at the moment, but it would feel amazing to build my confidence to be able to do it.

This goal is important to me as it teaches me that you can do anything if you put your mind to it, regardless of what others assume of you. This goal would prove to me that I am fit and able to complete something that I would have previously thought would be impossible unless you have a six-pack and are obsessed with fitness.

6. What’s your game plan for this? How are you gonna prepare for it and keep it fun and motivating?

I am currently already completing my own personal challenge in October by running a Half Marathon. I am training for this at the moment which is a very good first step in order to build up my stamina and endurance. This training hasn't come naturally to me but with focus and determination, I've seen myself improve massively from not being able to run 1km to being able to run so far 13km without walking.

This has given me the belief that I can do the same swimming although it will take a lot more hard work. I will start a swimming programme where I learn how to do front crawl properly, from this training I hope to be able to start swimming in pools by myself and then progress onto open water swimming which will allow me to build up my stamina to do a run swim.

I am going to hopefully write a lot about my journey on my own Instagram page to encourage others to step out of their comfort zone and not let body confidence stop them.

7. What initial tips can you give others who might be thinking about a similar challenge?

Just go for it. Book something in the diary so you can't quit and then just start training. That's exactly what I did with my half marathon, I booked a half marathon that was about 8 months in the future, googled a free training plan and just started following it. People don't believe me when I say I couldn't even run to the end of my road when I started but it's true it's so motivating when you start to see your fitness improving and even more motivating when it makes you feel amazing mentally.

My final tip is don't spend a lot of money on it, fancy gym plans and fancy gym gear are lovely but are definitely not necessary. I love the fact that running outside is free and you get to spend time in the open finding new places you've never seen before!

If I had to advise someone to invest in two things it would be some trainers that feel good and help prevent injury and a watch that you can use for tracking your runs or workouts. Tracking your workouts is so motivating and allows you to see your progress over time.

To follow Emma on her journey feel free to follow her Instagram page @emmsyberry and keep an eye out on our blog for future updates on her journey.

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