Mental health and body positivity advocate Jada Sezer on how exercise has impacted her confidence and happiness.
Jada Sezer signed up to do the marathon after just one four-mile run. “I had no idea how far a marathon was,” she laughs. “In this story, ignorance was purely bliss.”
But it is more than ignorance that took Jada from running novice to empowering fitness inspiration. Her dedication to fighting for visibility and inclusivity meant that she not only completed the 26.2 mile run in 2018, but she did it in her underwear, alongside mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon, to prove that exercise is for women of all shapes and sizes. For the same reason, she’s now supporting the Adidas Originals Superstar campaign, encouraging all women to get active.
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Jada has always been passionate about mental health, completing her masters in child psychology before becoming a model. But it wasn’t until she discovered yoga that she realised the link between movement and mental wellbeing. Having just gone through a breakup, her friend dragged her to a hot yoga class. “I had no intention of doing a workout because at that point all I wanted to do was sleep. I just remember leaving that 90 minute class with no makeup on, pants dripping with so much sweat I could ring them out, but I felt so well and so confident.
“Confidence looks different on everyone, but we often get sold the idea that you’ll be confident when you have had your hair done, you’re in a perfect dress and looking beautiful. Confidence on me also looks like a hot sweaty mess.”
A body positivity champion, you might assume that this comes easy, but there have been times in her life when it has taken a knock. “When I first got into modeling, I felt the ugliest and most insecure I’d ever felt before, purely because everything was about my body,” she says.
Her way out of that? Remembering that her body can do more for her than looking good. “Before I became a model I was studying, I played the violin, I swam and I was part of all these different clubs and social groups. That was where I got a lot of my affirmation from. The comradery is what gives me a feeling of confidence.”
Now she gets that feeling from the women she inspires with exercise. After her marathon success, she encouraged 1,000 women to join her Celebrate You campaign, running the Vitality 10K in their underwear.
And while we may not be able to actually train with our support network right now, to Jada team sport is about supporting a mindset as much as it is the physical activity. “To me, team sports means coming together. It’s people aligning with the same idea and vision of how you want the world to be and then, as a collective, being unapologetic and moving forward together to live that change and hopefully inspire people to join you too.”
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As many of us have begun on our own running journeys during lockdown, what words of wisdom does she have for the days when the sofa feels like a better option than the pavement? “I don’t know about you but I can talk myself out of running with any excuse,” she says. “When that happens, I use my little mind hacks. The night before I lay out my gym kit so it’s there waiting for me before my mind can catch up. If you can’t allow yourself to even have the time to make an excuse then you’re out the door and you’ve got it done.
“Maybe a more superficial thing, but a nice new pair of gym leggings is so motivating. I’m a size 16, I’ve got love handles and whenever I’ve worn running leggings they always roll down. High waisted Adidas running leggings are so good, and there really is something about side pockets on leggings.”
Jada Sezer features in the adidas Originals Superstar campaign ‘Change Is A Team Sport’. Adidas Originals Superstars are available now from adidas.co.uk.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).