I am Stephanie Burg.
As a kid, I knew I was different. I would fall asleep at night listening to Chopin and Tchaikovsky, and draw versions of the tutus I wanted to wear on stage some day. I traded play time for ballet class and when asked to lose weight for the first time, I started dieting. I was 9 years old. I became deeply insecure over the years, unsure of my value in our world. As I continued pursuing my dream of becoming a professional ballet dancer, this negative self image deepened.
When I signed my first contract with a weight clause in it, stating a gain of 3 lbs. would result in lost pay, I felt proud every time I missed a meal, saving calories and the pain of being called “fat.” I constantly worried about food, was completely disconnected from my body, and even more shut off from caring for myself the way I desperately needed to.
In 2004, I met Jack and fell in love (we’re married now). When he would tell me I was getting too thin, I would secretly poke and prod my tiny frame in the bathroom mirror, telling myself that I still had so much more weight to lose. I had a complete lack of love, understanding, or empathy for my body.
On my 29th birthday, life as I knew it came to a screeching halt. Literally. I ignored my first major injury–an ankle sprain– for months, which eventually led to surgery and took me out of work for over a year. Frustrated by my circumstances, feeling totally hopeless, and completely disgusted with my body for “failing” me, I turned to food for comfort (specifically beer, ice cream and pizza), and rapidly packed on 30 lbs. I had one pair of “fat” jeans I could squeeze into, and those were too tight. I cried every morning as I got dressed because nothing fit.
My injury healed and slowly through months of hard work and rigid, restrictive dieting, I lost the weight and then some, got back on stage, and pushed myself harder than ever. I pushed through two more major injuries. The second was my other ankle. The third, a highly traumatic incident in which a partnered lift went horribly wrong, resulting in permanent damage to my neck. I knew something wasn’t right, but completely ignored my body’s need for rest. My neck pain was nothing compared to the worry and anxiety I felt. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to perform normal daily tasks, let alone dance.
As my neck began to heal, I started pushing myself the way I always had: ignore the pain, suck it up, and keep going. Until one day, I found myself in tears on the dance studio floor, frustrated that I wasn’t healing faster, and berating myself for my weakness, being “too fat,” too “inadequate.” Right then, it hit me. My body was screaming. Through injury, weight gain and loss, through serious pain and dread over what I thought I loved to do, my body was begging me to wake up and listen. My body needed help. Love. Kindness. Sweetness. Gentleness. Rest. Care. I had completely neglected myself for years and in that moment, I finally listened. I knew something had to change.
I quit my job right there with no clue what would happen next.
I felt surprisingly liberated and began to foster a deeper curiosity about healing and health. When I began to study holistic nutrition, I realized how broken my relationship with my body and self really was. I learned it’s not just about calories in vs. calories out, although the food we eat is so important. As I began to take a different approach toward my body and food, the shift was GIANT and as a result, I finally lost those last five pounds I constantly obsessed over, without the restriction I was used to. My energy doubled; my digestion– which was always an issue– began to heal; and I began to feel amazing in my skin.
Today, I celebrate my journey in many ways. I still perform, choreograph, and teach weekly adult ballet classes. And just as important, I’ve opened Stephanie Burg Coaching to help women obtain bodies they truly love, through high quality nutrition, stress management, and proper self care. I know firsthand that no woman deserves to face this challenge alone.
When we love the bodies we call home, we embrace our power to create the lives we were born to live.
I’d love to hear your story.
To schedule a Body Love Breakthrough session with me designed to explore creating the transformation you want in a way that’s tailored to your unique body, challenges and life, click here.
Photos by: Corey Tenold, Richard Calmes, Jonathan Boncek