I must confess that I have a favorite client type. And as any of my clients that have worked out in my gym can attest to, this tends to fuel the culture of my business. I LOVE to train women who want to find themselves through working out. Yes, my clients, both in-person & online, see increased strength, better flexibility, less body fat, fewer injuries…but you know what else they see? Increased confidence that has nothing to do with what they look like. A new-found respect for all their capabilities. Freedom from their self-imposed diet prison. A body that is awesome no matter its current condition. A relentless passion for living their lives on their terms.
I guess you could say that I’m building a troop of workout feminists. Not the man-hater feminists you automatically think of (don’t try to act like you didn’t think that). Expand your definition. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women. I’m talking about a group of wonder women that truly believe in themselves as human beings, not just as women. We don’t follow a guru…we think for ourselves. We don’t impose society’s beauty rules on ourselves…we recognize and create our own beauty in whatever form it comes in. We don’t punish our bodies with diet and exercise so our bodies become smaller…we strive to live big. We don’t contract…we expand. We don’t belittle…we empower. We don’t shrink…we effing ROAR!
We build our bodies and our health through a process founded in the love of becoming a better and more capable woman in all aspects of life. So while my client is struggling to lift a heavy weight, she’s building her muscles while she’s also building her resolve. As she finishes an exercise she never thought she could do, she’s opening her eyes to all the possibilities in her life. While she’s working to make her body fitter, faster, stronger, she’s also appreciating all the ways that body has been there for her (even when she’s hated it). As she commits to a healthy routine to respect her body’s health, she begins to demand that same respect from everyone else. As she creates boundaries that work for her health and lead her to success, she creates similar boundaries in her personal life. As she stops comparing her body to other women’s, she starts looking for similarities that unite rather than tear down.
The fitness industry has enough “role models” who strive to conform to some societal image of feminine beauty with no regard as to how it affects her quality of life and self-respect. I don’t know about you, but I’m done conforming, done shrinking, done starving, done with being a people pleaser. I have more to offer than six-pack abs and a booty that don’t stop. And I bet you do too.
So who is this woman? The Long Story…
“Eat a piece of cheese, it will help your headache. Be a good girl, and I’ll buy you a See’s candy. If you’re bored, let’s bake some cookies.”
And so, from a young age, my love affair with food began. I had a fabulous mother, but I learned some very bad eating habits from her. I watched her struggle with weight, watched her lose 125 pounds watched her gain it all back, and most tragically, watched her view her own life from the sidelines. An obese mother can’t go on bike rides, or play with her kids in the back yard, or try on clothes without wanting to hide her body.
I was the stereotypical fat kid. I was born obese and stayed overweight throughout my school years. I was picked last for the team in P.E. class. I was teased about my size and lack of athletic ability. In high school, I somehow picked up on weight training when I discovered that I excelled at sports that required strength, like shot-put and fast-pitch softball. I still ate horribly. Even when I started choosing healthier foods, I ate them in such quantities that weight loss continued to elude me. Looking back, this huge amount of food, combined with weight training, allowed me to naturally pack on some decent muscle, which I’m now very happy about.
When I was 19, I had a life altering event happen: my mom was killed in a car accident on her way to work. This tragedy continues to leave an imprint on my life. I wanted to emulate her in so many ways, but I also wanted to learn from her life. I didn’t want my weight to inhibit my life. I didn’t want to die without knowing what being healthy feels like. I didn’t want to let life just pass me by because I was too self-conscious to jump in and actively live! But the search for an answer to my weight problems just continued.
I was a smart girl, funny, accomplished, a good friend, a hard worker. But I felt that my inability to exercise control over my weight overshadowed it all. After I graduated from college, I was dragged to a Weight Watchers meeting by a friend of mine at weighing in at 175 pounds, all the while keeping the attitude that nothing would help me. I was genetically predisposed to be overweight. End of story.
But I followed the diet that first week, and was astounded to have lost 4 pounds! Wow, could I actually change my beliefs about what was possible for me? I actually began to hope again.
What I discovered, was that changing my mindset and my food consumption were the missing keys to my weight problem. All the exercise in the world wasn’t going to make me into a fitness model. I was already putting in 1-2 hours of gym time 6 days a week…how much more could I do?!
I started reading everything I could get my hands on regarding nutrition. I learned so much about what foods can do for every aspect of your body and health. I lost about 20 pounds, and then, I finally got pregnant! While I was extremely happy about this, I was also concerned that I’d pack on the weight and never lose it again, just like my mom did. But I kept going to the gym and watching what I ate during my pregnancy.
After my daughter was born, my thirst for all things nutrition and mindset fueled my journey. When she turned one, I decided to compete in a figure competition. That’s right, the fat kid was going to get on stage in a teeny tiny bikini and have people judge her physique. A little bit ironic, don’tcha think? (yes, I totally just quoted Alanis Morissette…total 90’s girl here) I’m happy to report that I graced the stage at a lean and muscular 135 pounds and was on top of the world. I then continued on to do two more competitions, including placing in my first national level competition.
So what am I doing now? Well, for one thing, I don’t feel the need to prove anything to myself anymore by competing on stage. Did it, done, moving on. I’m enjoying taking my passion for health & fitness and helping other on their own journeys.