Our testimonies can make us or break us. It can, at times, feel like we’re alone and won’t make it through. But pressure can burst a pipe or make a diamond, and in the following paragraphs, one woman tells how she fought for the life she wanted and won.
Today I am so excited to have fitness guru, Summer Haggins with us. Summer is a certified life coach, mentor, personal trainer, and a nurse. She decided to pursue this path after witnessing her many of her patients suffer from diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices physically, mentally and emotionally.
On this journey, she also realized that she suffered with low self-esteem after experiencing a difficult point in her life that left her questioning her own self-worth. Fortunately, Summer decided to take her power back and rebuilt her self-esteem through healthy lifestyle choices and by surrounding herself with positivity. Summer joins us to discuss how she changed her life.
Nic Abraham: Summer, tell us about yourself.
Summer Haggins: As you mentioned, I am a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for over ten years. I’m also a personal trainer and a certified life coach. Currently I am a health and spiritual fitness coach. Really what that encompasses is a whole holistic woman. It’s so important to look at the entire body when you’re talking about progression and life choices. When you’re talking about preparing to take your power back and live a greater life, it is important to look at everything. I’ve had clients, from a personal training perspective, that’ll say, “Summer, I need you to help me lose this weight.” And that’s all fine and good because physical fitness is important. But I cannot ignore what may be causing the weight gain on the inside. I will usually follow-up with, “Okay, we know what your goals are physically. Let’s see what’s going on emotionally. Are you carrying some baggage? Are you in a bad relationship?” A lot of times, unfortunately, when us as women go through things we eat bad and don’t exercise. It’s important to look at those other areas that we often tend to cover up or put on the back burner, and embrace a holistic approach to health and well-being. Being a better person, a better mother, a better wife, a better friend … Whoever you are in life, just be a better you period. That is why I’m so passionate about holistic health and helping people achieve their goals.
Nic: It’s great that you ask those follow-up questions and really dig because I know a lot of times when people are living an unhealthy lifestyle we look at them on the surface and think, “Oh you just need to lose weight,” but a lot of times it’s a lot deeper than that. Kudos to you for going deeper.
Summer: Yes. It’s a lot deeper than that. It’s funny how people can look at another person and size them up probably in about five to 10 seconds–first impressions. A lot of times, digging deeper will really uncover those things that no one knows. You can look at a woman and she can look physically fit, she looks like she has it all together, but after a 30-minute conversation we can see that she’s broken. Even though physically she may look good, she’s not well spiritually or mentally or emotionally. Again, it’s about having those difficult conversations with people to help them realize that they’re not alone. It’s not like anything that you’re going through someone else has not already gone through. It’s looking at how we can go about our journey to wellness and being holistically fit. That’s why I do what I do and why I’m so passionate about coaching.
Nic: You said that you struggled with self-worth. You’re a beautiful woman and I think sometimes people associate pretty with having it all together. Talk about your struggles with self-worth.
Summer: Okay. I’m so happy that you brought up that topic because I think that especially in today’s society, people are entrenched with social media and what they physically see. People fall victim to body stereotypes and what makes a pretty woman. For me, when I was younger I just struggled with low self-esteem. I struggled with comparing myself to the next girl thinking I wasn’t small enough, I wasn’t cute enough, my body did not look like hers, or I wasn’t thin enough. And as much as I had a loving family to show and tell me I was beautiful and amazing, I did not receive it. I struggled with that into adulthood and ended up getting married without knowing my value as a woman. When you don’t know your value, it is hard for anyone else to know your value. You set the stage and if you don’t know that then you’re going to have a difficult time in a relationship. Again, I had low self-esteem and was seeking validation from other people and unfortunately, after six years, my marriage ended in divorce. That was a difficult time in my life because it perpetuated the lies I had accepted that I didn’t fit into society’s norms of being pretty enough or skinny enough or not looking like Beyoncé. These things had perpetuated to the point where I said, “Well gee, now I can’t even keep a marriage together.”
That was my breaking point and even though it felt low it was actually a high point because it was my awakening period. I realized that it didn’t matter how many other people thought Summer was beautiful or Summer was pretty or who loved Summer, if I couldn’t learn to accept me, then I’d be forever lonely. That is when I decided to take my power back. I knew I had to. I knew I had to fight for the life I wanted because if I didn’t, no one else would. That’s when I went on my journey of holistic health and really learned to love me and no longer seek validation from other people, or men, specifically. And knowing that I was beautiful and am beautiful and that I loved God because he created me.
I also started surrounding myself around people that embraced my beauty and individuality and no longer tried to fit into society’s norms and standards of what makes a beautiful woman. It was me creating and setting my own path and being able to embrace that. I think that’s a difficult struggle for many women. Whether they’re 18 or 68. I feel that even as an older woman you can find yourself, unfortunately, comparing yourself to the next woman instead of looking at what makes you beautiful or different or unique. It’s the process of learning to love yourself.
Nic: Absolutely. I commend you for being able to recognize the issues you were having and working on them, and now you’re able to help other women. What are some of the ways that you help women who struggle with the same things you struggled with?
Summer: Sure, that’s an awesome question. The way I’m able to help other women is by sharing my journey. Again, I was at an all-time low after my divorce. I didn’t love myself, I didn’t think I was worthy, I didn’t think I was beautiful regardless of what other people said. I went on my own holistic journey and I started working out and exercising. And let me be clear, it was not to fit into society, it was me finding what was healthy for me and what made me feel good. From a physical standpoint, I started eating right and not just binging and eating bad foods but finding foods that were healthy for my body. I also started running and eventually I ran a full 26.2-mile marathon.
Summer: Thank you, it was definitely a real experience. Doing that, and finishing, strengthened me physically and mentally. I ran for four hours and seven minutes.
Summer: I still think about it to this day. If you put your mind to anything you really can do it if you commit yourself. That journey of physical health led me to say, “Hey Summer, you can’t just concentrate on the physical. Let’s look and see what other areas need work.” Then, “Okay, I need to look at my emotional health,” because even though I was building my body up, I still had low self-esteem and I still felt like I was dying. I started feeding myself everything that I knew was positive. Everything. I let go of all things negative. That meant any person that was bringing negativity toward me, any person that had something negative to say, I let them go. A lot of relationships ended.
I also evaluated what I was watching on TV, what I was feeding my mind. You can’t expect to really heal watching junk. And I’m not saying you can’t watch reality TV and drama and all that stuff, but for me, I decided to deal with the drama in my own life. I didn’t have any time to be watching or entertaining anyone else’s. I stopped watching all those things. I haven’t had cable in seven years and I don’t miss it. Now there are some good things on TV, it’s not like I’m saying, “Oh, don’t ever watch TV.” What I’m saying is be conscious of what you are feeding your mind. What you feed your mind is what you’ll dwell on and that’s what you will become. That was part of my healing process–evaluating what I was feeding my mind. I cut all those negative things out. I started reading books that would feed my mind and spirit. That’s when I really began to learn to love Summer.
This is one thing I really should’ve said first which is that it was God that really helped me through the bad times. I turned my life over to Him during that period as well, and surrendered to Him and asked for help. From a spiritual standpoint, that is my foundation. I began to develop a relationship with Him, so everything happened simultaneously. I began to pray and read His word. Not only was I strengthening myself physically, but I was also strengthening myself spiritually, mentally and emotionally. That brought me to now being a health and spiritual fitness coach. I can help women because I’ve been there. I may not have been in every situation, but I know what it feels like to be broken. I know what it feels like to have a door slammed in your face, I know what it’s like to have someone tell you, you’re not good enough. I know what it feels like to not get that job, I know what it feels like to not make the cut. Those are things that I can identify with. A lot of women that may be broken or feel like they can’t go on or just throw their hands up and say, “Forget it, I can’t do this.” I can share my experiences with them. I can be vulnerable. I can say, “Hey, you could look at me and think I’ve always had it all together, but let me share with you what I went through.” No one’s perfect. The bottom line is, progression is what we must focus on.
So I share my story with women and where I am now. I share what habits I have adopted to fight for the life I wanted. To be more powerful, to claim back what was rightfully mine and how I made the decision to do that. Again, coaching is all about whatever I can do to help as many women as possible and give them the tools that God gave me to continue and live a life of abundance. That’s it. To help the broken, to help the women that feel like all is lost. I believe that’s what God has called me to do with every fiber of my being.
Nic: Awesome, Summer. I thank you for sharing that and for being so transparent. Now, January was the one-year anniversary of your book release so congratulations on that.
Summer: Thank you.
Summer: It’s funny you mention that. It was a big task but I felt it needed to be done. I had to do it. And with all these experiences I went through, I started thinking, “Well I can’t be the only woman that’s felt like this. I can’t be the only woman that has struggled with her identity or weight or measuring up to society or a broken heart or a bad relationship. I know I’m not the only one.”
I felt God nudging me to write this book. To share with other women…I’ll say men too, because men have read my book and given rave reviews. Yes, it’s geared toward women because it’s ‘I am Warrior Princess’ … but some books are universal. There’s nothing in that book that a man cannot relate to because it’s all about learning to love yourself but in the process physically working on your body and getting that holistic approach to wellness. But again, I wanted to write a book to share the tools that I was given by God. The things that he allowed me to grow through. Not ‘go through,’ but ‘grow through.’ And that’s exactly what I did. I grew through everything I lived through to bring me to where I am now. That book was a representation of that.
I felt like I could not sleep until I got it all out. I just started writing and writing and writing and writing and the more I wrote the more transparency came out and the flow of encouraging and empowering words. I felt that if I did not write that book I would be doing a disservice to society. And in my book, one of the things I say is that if one woman or one person reads this book and their life is changed, then my work has been done. That’s honesty how I felt, because people get so caught up in the numbers, and that’s great. I’m not saying anything bad about being worried about the numbers of how many people a book reaches or misses. But every life makes a difference because if you change one person’s life, that one person may go and change 10,000 lives. That’s the reason why I wrote ‘I am Warrior Princess,’ I wanted to encourage and empower women to fight because it’s not easy. And unfortunately, some women have been dealt a bad hand. Sometimes things happen out of your control. Life happens. People die, people do things that hurt you. It’s just a bad hand. But then we must take that and do something with it. We can either choose to lay down and allow life to trample us, or we can stand up and say, “You know what? I’m going to fight.” It’s a choice.
If we decide to make the decision to fight, we must arm ourselves correctly to do that. The book talks about my journey and the tools needed to thrive in life. Who wants to just survive? I’m talking past survival. I’m talking about thriving. My hope and prayer for the book is that it will continue to impact the people who read it.
Nic: Awesome. Well thank you so much, Summer. I truly appreciate you sharing your journey and insight.
Summer: Thank you for having me. I’m glad that you allowed me to share my story and some encouragement and I’m truly blessed to be able to speak with you and your audience.