First off, let me explain why I am writing about this topic and why I believe it is so pertinent. I feel we live in a culture that as morphed the terms weightloss, thin, fit, lean, shredded to mean the same thing as healthy. Along with that, we link anything to do with fat, body fat, and weight gain to mean unhealthy. to some, healthy has become this measurement of how many times you workout in a day, how lean you are, and how well you stick to your macros. Whether you're a trainer, some sort of health and fitness professional, or just a human being in this world pursuing health, this is for you.
I've always had goals and I've always been very driven in the fitness realm of my life. Since I was a teenager I've worked out consistently and ate a healthy and balanced diet. I looked up to fit people and never wanted to stray from that course. I've always been intrinsically motivated to become my fittest and strongest self. I've always loved being an athlete, and taking on new challenges. You could say I have a competitive side, especially with myself!
I knew I wanted to become a trainer early on. I wanted not only to talk the talk, but walk the walk as well. I wanted to lead by example and live a healthy lifestyle people could look up to. I never wanted anyone to question my title of a personal trainer. I wanted them to see me and feel completely confident in my skills and abilities. I wanted my physique to back up what I was claiming I could help others accomplish. For some reason I felt that was the most important evidence I could have.
As I continued in my career, I noticed the pressure building up from this bar I had set for myself. My own expectations, a long with the pressure that also came from the fitness culture, began to build up. I felt as though all the trainers I saw on instagram who were having success and making it big time were the ones with the rock hard bodies. I was constantly comparing myself to these peers. "Why would anyone want to train with me when they could train with her " (aka instafamous girl with the perky butt and flat abs). There was always someone leaner or fitter than me, and this made me even more determined.
In my young and naive mind (lol a year ago) I based all of my value as a trainer on the way I looked. I figured if I could sculpt my own body, everyone will know I can do the same for them! And that's what everyone wants right?? (insert eye roll to emphasize my sarcasm)
I would look at other trainers who had a "not so perfect" body and I would wonder why they weren't practicing what they preached! What's wrong with these people? Who would hire them?? (again, the eye roll)
My body was my business, and I refused to fail.
Well I've learned a few lessons this last year. My views and perspectives have been altered for the better. And I feel I am a much better trainer and person than I used to be because of these experiences and life changes I've had to go through. I've also discovered so many outstanding trainers & health professionals who are preaching this same "health looks different on everyone" kind of mottos that I've been preaching. It's been amazing to connect with these inspiring humans.
This last August (2017) my world was turned upside down when I decided recovering my menstrual cycle and fertility, recovering from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, was my top priority. This meant stepping away from my "ideal trainer body" that I had dedicated so much time and energy towards, and turning my efforts towards resting and gaining enough body fat for my body to work properly. I had so many fears....
What will people think of me? Will they think I'm lazy? Will they think I've let myself go? Will anyone want to train with me? How will I survive without one of my favorite things - exercise? Will I ever be able to lose this weight? How long will this take!? Will this process even work? Will it be worth it?
I've been able to answer a few of these questions, and a few still remain unknown. I'm still struggling, but this is what I've come to know through this process:
- Training is so much more than what you look like. This past year I've been able to work with some of the most amazing clients who have become my dear friends. It's become so much more than me simply telling them what exercises to do and counting their reps. We've poured our hearts out to each other. We've laughed, we've cried. I often joke that my job as a trainer is often times more of a therapist gig. Struggling with health and weight gain is often a very emotional and personal battle. This requires more than just knowledge of exercise form. It requires a listener, a shoulder to cry on, someone to give you tough love when you need it, how to deal with different life stresses, nutrition applications, motivation, and most of all someone who believes in you. And fun fact.... none of these skills require a certain body type! I landed my dream job this January as a trainer with PFC and I was at the peak of my weight gain when I interviewed. I was so intimidated going into the job not looking like the other trainers, but that was all put aside as they welcomed me with open arms. We promote health, not just weight loss
- I've gained Empathy, and sometimes that's all you need. I've felt what it feels like to not fit into your clothes one day. I know what it feels like to walk into a gym and feel so self conscious. I known what it feels like to be diagnosed with something that a lot of people can't relate with. I know how bad it sucks to chafe ;). I know what it feels like to feel judged for eating more than the skinny girl. I know what it feels like to feel completely out of your comfort zone. I know what it feels like to hate shopping and going to the dressing room. I feel like my heart has quadrupled in size for all the women out there struggling with self confidence due to the overwhelming pressures from the world of diet culture & fitness models. I've also been sooo humbled because my worries and problems are so small compared to so many out there going through seriously hard stuff.
- We are far more concerned about how we look than anyone else is. Chances are that the things we feel so self conscious about on our own bodies are hardly even recognized by ANYONE else but us. As I went through this process and felt like a giant ball of blubber everywhere I went, I began to realize that NO ONE ELSE noticed or even really cared. Ya, maybe they noticed I gained a little bit of weight, but not nearly to the extent that I was imagining they did in my head. The fact that I was so self conscious about it made it far worse than had I realized this fact in the beginning. Showing confidence goes a long ways! That zit on your face appears far larger to you than to anyone else. That cellulite that you think shines with flashing lights to the world, is causing you way more mental torment than it's worth. No one notices or cares about it but you!
The fact of the matter is, we are so much more than our body size or fat percentage. We have so much more value than a stupid number on a scale. We each have unique skills, thoughts, perspectives, and personalities to add to our spaces of passion. And if it's health you're aiming for, weight loss is not always the answer!
Looking back now, even though I still have my struggle days, I'm so grateful for going through this process so that I could learn these lessons. My relationships with the people who truly mattered in my life became so much stronger. I began to understand my body so much better. Through research and other amazing women in this space, I've learned so much about the female body, our cycles, and the hormone component that I knew nothing about prior to HA.
This isn't just a story about a Trainer not having a trainer body. This is a story about everyone who may feel "less than" or judged for not fitting into a very narrow and unrealistic "norm". Girls, KNOW THAT YOU ARE VALUED BEYOND ANY SORT OF MEASUREMENT. The sooner we realize this, the sooner we can tune into our bodies, fully appreciate this beautiful home we've been given, and give ourselves the best care we can with unconditional love.
Thanks for reading :) now go out into the world and rock that body with confidence!
PS: Here are some of the Women that have inspired (and continue to inspire) me through this journey: