Sarah Coleman: Community and the sense of belonging |

Sarah Coleman: Community and the sense of belonging

Sarah Coleman
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

We all want to be part of something — something meaningful, something enjoyable, something that fills our cup. As human beings, we crave a sense of belonging. Belonging means acceptance as a member or part of the group or team … such a simple word for such a huge concept.

A sense of belonging is a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Some find belonging in a church or at a gym, some with friends, some with family. Some see themselves as connected to only one or two people while others feel connected to many.

There are numerous ways to feel the sense of community, and it is unique to each and everyone one of us. I want to share a special story about an incredible woman who has recently found her community, and it wasn’t in the place she was looking.

Meet Hillary. Hillary loves music, camping and a good thrift store find. She dreams of sailing through the Caribbean and loves to read cookbooks for fun. She recently lost 70 pounds and has an incredible story to share. She admires people who are able to balance their lives with both commitment to self, career and commitment to helping others reach personal goals.

She admires people who have overcome struggles and use those lessons to make someone else’s burdens seem lighter. She admires all the folks she has met along the way who have given their time to her journey back to health. She hopes to be able to give this back in some way.

Hillary’s journey has been long with many ups and downs. She became an emotional eater early on in life and battled eating disorders in high school and college. She battled with her own sobriety as well. She developed Type 2 diabetes in her 40s and has been climbing out of rock bottom health ever since.

This new chapter of weight loss began when she refocused and got brave enough to join a twice-a-week exercise class. Her body and mind remembered how much she liked to workout.

Soon after her realization, she saw the ad in the newspaper for The Phoenix and decided to give it a try and hasn’t looked back since. She found purpose, drive and a community that believes in her. And, that Type 2 diabetes you ask? Gone.

The Phoenix is a community of liked-minded people who are in recovery. All they ask is 48 hours of continued sobriety to attend. Workouts, community, support, a tribe to call your own, what more could you ask for?

In her exact words, “The Phoenix has given me a workout community that I feel comfortable in. I feel supported not only in my fitness but also in my recovery. This is such a gift and rare opportunity. It is so much more than a place to workout, it is a place where I belong. The Phoenix has challenged me to challenge myself. I have gained self-confidence and self-acceptance. I am pushed to push myself. I have learned to celebrate my successes and look forward to the next challenge. I believe the Phoenix has motivated me to be more successful in my everyday life as well as at the gym. Humble, happy, hungry. I would like to tell you that although I have had success in weight loss and appearance, by far the most miraculous change has been on the inside. The Phoenix has changed my life. I am so grateful for the dedication of the instructors, who give their time and show up to support everyone week after week. You are my role models, and I strive to be as selfless and supportive as you are in my everyday life. Thank you.”

To Hillary, who is giving back in more ways than she knows, thank you, and to anyone out there looking for their community, go out a find one that inspires you. There are so many to explore.

Sarah Coleman is a wellness coach at The Foundry, a personal trainer, CrossFitter and coach at Steamboat CrossFit, food connoisseur at Bitchin Kitchin and outdoor enthusiast everywhere.

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