Introducing SLM Billings' Fitness & Wellness Columnist

October 14, 2022

by chantel oakley

Hi friends! My name is Chantel Oakley and I am very excited to introduce myself to you as Simply Local’s new Fitness and Wellness columnist. I am honored to have this opportunity and will do my best to use this platform to inspire you to make fitness a consistent and sustainable rhythm in your life, teach you how to become motivated by HOPE, remind you that you are strong and you can do hard things; and help you change/adjust unhealthy behaviors that may be hindering your personal growth.

Now, here’s a little about me. I’m a wife- my husband was my college sweetheart and we are going on 20+ years of marriage, I am a mom to four wild and handsome boys who have captured my heart, I am an ACE Certified Health Coach and have worked in the fitness industry for almost 15 years, I am a lifetime/former collegiate athlete, and I am passionate about using fitness as a platform to inspire holistic growth (body, mind, and spirit), connection and belonging. 

Like most people, my journey through life, motherhood, fitness, and wellness has been full of majestic peaks and dry valleys. Perhaps the valleys of my journey will resonate with some of you. Over the course of my life, these dry moments have been the result of a lifelong struggle with anxiety that can leave me feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed: a battle with an eating disorder that began when I was a young girl, asthma that I still find annoying, infertility and loss that was heartbreaking, health issues that frustrate me, multiple injuries that I didn’t have time for, PTSD that was terrifying, and walking alongside those I love as they trudged their way through their own valleys. Oddly enough, the moments of my life that I would consider my “peaks” were only possible BECAUSE of the valleys I had trudged through. From growing, healing, and accepting my anxiety and learning to receive love and acceptance for who I am, to becoming a mother, realizing that I am REALLY STRONG, that good and hope can be found in ANY circumstance, and, I am not alone on this journey.

What does this all have to do with fitness, you might ask? That’s a fair question. Let me answer it with this: I’m probably not your typical fitness columnist that will give you practical tips and suggestions for shedding pounds, the latest diet and workout trends, and how to tone your abs. While there is a plethora of helpful information out there regarding nutrition, workouts, and weight loss, I have found that LASTING change happens when we pursue growth in a holistic way - moving/caring for our body (exercise, sleep and nutrition), addressing our mindset (mind), tending to our emotional/relational needs (spirit). This brings us back to the concept of a journey. 

I believe that life is a journey, growth is a journey, and fitness/wellness is a tool to aid us on our journey. In the moments of my life that I have felt anxious, sad, hurting, insecure, and defeated; and I have made the choice to move and challenge my body, I have been reminded that I AM strong and my inner pain doesn’t have to define me. For almost 15 years I have seen how the platform of fitness/wellness has helped bring about a common ground for people to connect with one another, find belonging, have fun, and laugh together. I have seen fitness develop confidence, inspire hope, and cultivate perseverance in people who didn’t think they had it in them. The truth is, life is both beautiful and hard. So, let’s use fitness as a tool to help us navigate the hard in such a way that we become stronger than we were before, in every way.

I hope that in reading my introduction you have become curious about what it might be like to focus less on fitness as a way to help us lose weight, accomplish a goal, or gain some 6-pack abs (which, by the way, are all fine things in and of themselves!). And, instead, focus on fitness as a very tangible way to take care of your body, manage stress, open the door to explore inner growth and development, develop grit and perseverance, cultivate connection with others, and tap into the courage that lies within you.

Since we are talking about journeys, please know how honored I am to be on this journey with Simply Local and with YOU. I hope that together we are able to weather our dry valleys and celebrate our majestic peaks, while also talking about fitness and wellness.

Your New Friend,

Chantel Oakley

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