I sometimes look in the mirror these days and wonder, how the hell did I get here, doing what I am doing? Me? A fitness trainer? That is not possible! But it is in fact the truth and my reality now, and I am loving every minute of it!
I have had a similar story to many people, in that I have struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember. Small hints as a child from here and there, comments made, that told me my body wasn’t right, that if it were different, it would make me a better person. I would look better, my jeans would fit right, and life would just be perfect. But the way you are.... well... it just doesn’t cut it. I was never picked for sports teams I tried out for. I was picked close to last in gym when gym became about only sports and not the fun games we used to play.
I had it in my head for all of my adult years that weight loss needed to happen. I tried all the fads, all the diets. I can list more things that took me down the spiral of self hate, but you get the picture and it’s not a story you have not heard before, and well... that is the problem isn’t it? My story is TOO familiar. There are so many of us that can nod in agreement as we read and relate to a childhood to adulthood story of feeling crappy about our self image because of being told we are not good enough from family, from peers, from media.
THIS STORY HAS TO CHANGE!
Although sports were never my thing, I have always liked being active, hiking and walking, riding my bike, going to the gym, etc. But when I got older, moved to Toronto from St. Catharines at 33, work and life changed and I became less active. So when I got into my fourties, I decided, after watching my parents start to deal with some health issues, that I wanted to give myself a fighting chance to avoid some of the same. In January of 2016, I found a 6 week boot camp challenge that was in my neighbourhood and thought, ok, 6 weeks, I can do this. But I was terrified! I was so out of shape and at 43 years old I thought both what the hell, why not, and what the hell am I doing?
The challenge was against the other participants, and whomever had the biggest transformation in both weight and inches lost won $500. So I took it seriously, I followed the prescribed eating plan of tracking my macros on My Fitness Pal, and I went to every single workout, 3 times a week at 6am. Starting from a place of not being able to do a decent push up to pretty darn good ones after 6 weeks AND I WON THE CHALLENGE! I was so excited and not only that I started to love the workouts! So I put the $500 back into the monthly membership fee, signed up for a year and I was off to get to my goal of losing 70lbs!
I was consistent with my workouts, diligent and obsessive about my eating, and in less than a year I achieved that 70 lb weight loss! I was so excited! Over 200 likes on Facebook for my post about it. People told me how inspiring I was and what was I doing so that they could learn from me... and it was a whirlwind of emotions. One of the things I started to think was... hmmm maybe I can help others, maybe I should become a trainer! I have always been in a helping field. That is what I decided to do.
But another thing happened at the same time. After losing the weight... I felt a bit lost. I wasn’t sure how to eat, do I have to follow this counting thing my whole life in order to stay there? It seemed like a lot of work to continue. I also got comments from people about looking too skinny now, and don’t lose any more, and jealous type comments from some people around me. It was a confusing time. I realized I did not want to keep up the lifestyle of counting everything I ate, and feeling bad or guilty if I ate outside of that, I mean are peas and corn really going to make me fat? But at the same time, I liked being smaller, I had never wanted to be thin, but my body felt better with less weight, less pain in my bones. I still felt that weightloss is the only way to achieve good health at this point. But something didn’t quite feel right, I was still judging myself, and others if they weren’t trying to be smaller and how could someone be healthy if they are overweight?
In the Spring of the following year I signed up for the Fit Chicks Academy and worked my butt off doing the education and also working full time but I did it and became a certified Personal and Group Fitness trainer. The training also talked about nutrition and healthy eating, and weight loss. I really enjoyed the program and learned lots about the body and I was ready to start on my next leg of the journey! I was also still struggling at the same time with trying to figure out my own body issues, and how to eat healthy, maintain a busy lifestyle and not obsess about it all.
Within 5 months of graduating, myself and another trainer decided to open up our own boot camp. But during those 5 months in between, I had started to read more about being body positive, loving yourself where you are at, and that maybe weight loss is not the key to health. So when the time came... I was still wanting to help people lose weight if they wanted to, but starting to change my values on it. I had already gained some of the weight back that I lost, and I was ok with it for the most part, but scared about losing the gains I had made in my health. In the midst of opening the business I had a personal issue happen that cause some emotional trauma, and I found myself turning to food once again, to make me feel better. So. Much Guilt.
In January 2018, Body Positivity Movement Boot camp was born. I loved the name and I loved the concept, but I still wasn’t fully living it yet. I started reading more about this movement, I read Health at Every Size, Embody, Intuitive Eating, and a few other books and many articles that started to open my eyes and mind that maybe we as a society have it all wrong! So many studies said DIETS DON’T WORK! That made me feel so relieved and conflicted at the same time. You mean all this time I am not weak? I am not fully at fault if I gain the weight back? Plus, it is ok if I do and I can still be healthy and as long as I exercise and mostly make healthy food choices? What???? I started seeking out as much info as I could on this subject and I started to really feel like I found my tribe! After about 7 months of building the boot camp, my business partner got an opportunity to move on to his dream job, and although I was scared, I was ready to fully take on the Body Positive approach both business wise and in my own life! I have even started a group for young girls call the Girls Empowerment Movement (GEM). It is a group to instill more confidence both inside and out at an age where we start to lose it. (see more info on my website)
I have really started to dig deep these last few months into my own body image issues, and the fitness industry will really play a number on you for this! But I know now in my heart, that I am healthy strong woman, as I am. I am healing my disordered relationship with food and how I look and feel, and my passion is now to support others in this journey. I want to be a role model for those that need it. But wait, that is scary, you have to put yourself out there! Ah!
SO I did.
Last week, I did a photo shoot, with the most amazing photographer who opened up her studio, and her heart to further heal my blocks, and the blocks of other women by showing them how beautiful they are. For the first time in my life... I will be exposing my belly to the world! OMG! It’s not flat, its not 6 pack ripped (on the outer layers anyway!) I have cellulite on my legs, but it is REAL. I had so much fun doing the shoot. I have worked hard at starting the process of most days feeling ok looking in the mirror. The shoot that I did was also to support mental health, which is a BIG part of body positivity.
The shoot was with Lady Luck Photography in Ridgeway, Ontario. Jennifer
(McCready) calls them CHEER sessions, which I think is perfect.
I had paint splattered all over me! We used the colours of my business and it was so much fun! I felt so good after and we laughed through the whole thing!
I have always been someone who wants to change the world for the better, and now I know how I am going to do it.
One beautiful body at a time. My business motto is Love Yourself- Love the World.
Love is the only answer on how to change things, and ourselves for the better.
My wish for you, is that you will feel the same about yourself. Until next time..... I am Here!