Summer of Empowerment: Creating The Ripple Effect

“A single compliment can be a pebble dropped into still water. Let’s watch the ripples spread. Let’s turn the ripples into waves. Let’s all believe it.”

That quote from Steve Madden of The Leaf has been on my mind lately. I came across it following the release of the new viral campaign #NowBelieveIt from Nutrisystem. A campaign I was fortunate to be a part of. And part of what I am calling my summer of empowerment.

The weather wasn’t the only thing changing once summer set in. So was my mindset on how we look at ourselves. How society can sometimes pull us down. Honestly, how we can pull ourselves down. So, to that I say, let’s get over it.

It wasn’t intentional, but it turned out – this ended up as my “Summer of Empowerment.” The projects I chose – also seemed to choose me! And I hope these ripples never fade.

My first challenge: overcoming that “perfect body” image. We’ve all been there. And let’s be honest, guys and gals, we’ve all stood in front of that mirror and sighed – some of us more than others. Some of us beating ourselves up about it. OK… STOP. Two words: You’re beautiful. How do I know? Let me paint a picture for you. Women, you especially listen up.

(From bottom left clockwise: Quiet on the set: Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Kitt Allan shoot, On set,  DailyBurn365 LIVE, Just me)

(From bottom left clockwise: Quiet on the set: Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Kitt Allan shoot, On set, DailyBurn365 LIVE, Just me)

In May, I get a call from my agent that I’ve been chosen as one of the models in a new bathing suit campaign for what she referred to as a line for more “curvy women”. Now, I’m no size 2…. and, I’ve struggled with my weight from time to time. Who hasn’t? Proportioned, yes. But no Vogue cover girl. My first thought was, “Oh boy, what will I be wearing?” Knowing little about the shoot except the designer’s name, I show up on location and find out my shoot is for Kitt Allan. Kitt is a breast cancer survivor who left her her publishing career to create bathing suits and lingerie for women with breast cancer and those who support them. Her suits and intimate wear all provide space for prostethics from mastectomies, if needed. Her mission: genuine. Her energy: confident and kind. Her line: beautiful. She was on set all day, and if that’s not inspiring enough, three other models on the shoot are breast cancer survivors. I’m in awe! To be among these beautiful women who are willing to share and embrace their beauty was beyond words. Seeing these women of all shapes, sizes and ages, I realized just how lucky I am. And how beautiful we all truly are. I was proud of them for not only embracing their body types, but embodying the pure essence of women. By the end of the day, I found myself walking around with more confidence – because of them. And, when I was asked to do my testimonial about what Kitt’s line means to me, I immediately thought of my beautiful grandmother, Paula. She had a double mastectomy, battled breast cancer for years yet always looked like she was ready for a night on the town. I remember, when I lived near her during my college years in Texas, she had no reservations putting on one of her beautiful bathing suits and taking a dip in the pool. Sometimes I’d catch a bit of white tissue paper coming out of the top of her suit where a piece of her womanhood once filled the area. It was not something I talked about with her, but I knew. And I admired her for continuing to show her beauty and femininity, even if she was a little…lighter. For me, this project was for her. Kitt Allan inspired me. My Summer of Empowerment was on it’s way.

On location of the Kitt Allan  shoot.

On location of the Kitt Allan shoot.

Shortly after, I was cast in the Nutrisystem #NowBelieveIt campaign. Remember…the pebble? That’s the one. I show up on set the day of the shoot, spent a little time reviewing my lines, and tried to find the context and the truth behind the project. But, let’s be honest, you never really know the power of a piece until you see the finished project. When I received word from Magnet Media (the company that produced the project) that the video had been released, I was excited to see the results. When I did see the video, it hit me even more than I thought it would. #NowBelieveIt focuses on why women can’t accept compliments. I remember feeling attached to this project during my audition – I got it. I wanted to tell the story. So, why? Why is it so difficult to hea positive messages? And quite honestly, where was this type of help when I was younger? The digital age has given us a sense of a global community. Or what we call in the media world, “a global village”. It says, “Hey, you out there. I’m here for you, whereever you are.” The #NowBelieveIt campaign hits the nail on the head. Telling us to be a part of the empowerment and create that “ripple”. I encourage you to watch the video and share it. Toss that darn pebble and toss it often. Be infectious with the message and tell someone how awesome they truly are.

As the summer continued, a little comedy came across my plate., a lingerie line cast me in their #IfBoobsCouldTalk campaign. I voiced the project that focuses on, well…a day in the life of “the girls”, if you get my drift. It’s not a project with as deep of an impact as the others, but sometimes, you need to sit back and laugh at yourself. It’s OK. Go ahead. But remember, my eyes are up here! I only did the voice-over for this one. But it was fun. And isn’t part of being empowered and inspired also about overcoming fear? I think so.

Toward the end of the summer, I faced a lot of demons about body image, confidence, inspiration, overcoming obstacles, and turning them into possibilities. For quite some time, I have been sitting on the fence about finding a new workout and lifestyle program to get healthier, stronger and more fit. I mean, I have a wedding to plan and what bride doesn’t want to look killer in their dress? But more importantly, I want to be healthier for me. And that’s when The Daily Burn came into my life. I was chosen to be part of a live online daily workout called DailyBurn 365. All I can say is WHAT A RUSH! For only 30 minutes a day, DailyBurn365 gives subscribers a chance work out with different trainers and a hand full of classmates — including yours truly — LIVE each day at 9am EST/6am CST. It is like you’re in the classroom wherever you are (remember, the global village? Consider this a part of it). This project not only makes me accountable to myself but my classmates, my trainers and also those of you who log in each day to join us live. That’s the kind of pressure I like. Knowing I’m not only making a difference in my own life but to others as well. What’s so amazing about DailyBurn 365 is that you not only get the live workouts, you can log in and ask questions during the live chat from trainers and health coaches and really be a part of the family. It’s been an incredible ride so far and I hope you’ll consider giving it a try. Or, if you know someone who may want to come onboard… be the pebble. I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a 30 day trial to give it a whirl. (Ripple Ripple Ripple).

Behind the scenes of DailyBurn365 LIVE!

Behind the scenes of DailyBurn365 LIVE!

So, while it’s been an empowering summer how do I keep it going into the Fall? Truth be told, I’m not sure yet. But isn’t that what life is all about? Taking it day by day, throwing a few pebbles out there, creating some ripples and seeing just how far they go. I look forward to the possibilities and you joining me on the journey.

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With Love and Light,

About Hilary Russo

Host, Journalist, Spokesperson, Lifestyle & Design Expert: QVC Home/Garden Guest Host, Professor, Adventure Seeker & of course... Renaissance Woman - I'm a city girl with my pedal on the metal.
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