Before this goes anywhere, there are 3 things you should consider ticking before taking anyone else’s advice:
- Be honest and true to your internal dial
- Love what you do, regardless of opinion
- Take all information with a grain of salt and refer to no.1 if making a decision on it.
The health industry has become good at very few things, but excellent at one —
Stealing your identity.
Allowing your inadequacy
Helping you lose your muchness.
As a coach, I have personally experienced (me, myself) what would present as body dysmorphia, obsessive eating habits, obsessive training habits, poor support systems (personal and work-based), poor training methods (mainly, my own.. #oops), a million ‘diets’. And as a coach, I’ve coached people through phases of all of the above, as well.
I began as a personal trainer in 2013, and by my third month I was ‘successful’.. over 20 paid sessions a week. I had a life I loved, I was studying my bachelors degree (and somehow passing). I tripped off to the beach with a great friend regularly and flipped tyres in death-circuit workouts we put together ourselves. I lived with friends and it was a hoot of a time.
I didn’t pay a single bit of attention to how my body looked or what I ate, or what had priority in my life – it simply just happened that I ate delicious foods, I trained hard and loved it, I slept well and I was happy with my body.
The very day I started caring about what I looked like or what the numbers on the BIA scanner said (bio-impedence analysis, a basic machine for body fat, lean muscle, total body water, etc) is still a very clear replaying film clip.
It’s funny how that happens.. you don’t realise it’s life changing at the time, but give it a few months/years/decades and wham bam thank you ma’am.
University was a great experience, but they demand you do some random things. Lecturers compile hours of lecturing to deliver a few key points, and then plug even less of those key points into ‘exam cheat sheets’, of which you find out later you could have memorised JUST 3 OF THOSE CONFUSING QUESTIONS AND PASSED THE EXAM (.. coming from someone who added an extra 2 years to my course with deferring semesters, but same same).
SO I learnt my body composition, and that of every other female in the room… and then compared that to the ‘norms’, of which I fell outside of.
At 20 years old, I was overweight at 5’7″ and 62kg… thanks for the self esteem boost, Science.
To be clear, there are elements of statistics that I find brilliant and can provide a lot of information if interpreted in the right way. But how/when we use this information, and how much importance we place on it is crucial to the next steps…
Before this label, I rarely looked at my body weight, macro split, calorie count, calorie output etc, but magically after that period of body analysis, I started not fitting clothes, putting on weight and by two years on, I was 6kg heavier. Not huge, no, but it was undesirable considering I was still looking at statistics as part of study, and I continued comparing, and labeling myself inadequate.
At 24, I’d gone through a solid bazillion techniques for controlling my weight, training, body composition. I’d been on anti-depressants, seen a counselor for anxiety. I’d spent more hours than I am comfortable admitting in my car in fear of getting out. I had such low self esteem and belief that my relationships were on a tight string. I became so frustrated with my lack of common sense, my ‘need’ for a meal plan, my incapacity to make decisions for my own well-being.. so I phoned a friend.
He let me speak, I unloaded a lot in a very anxious state. And when I had nothing else to say, he simply said, “What did you do before you were told what to do?”
I pretty much danced out of that catch up. HELLOOOOOOOOOO stirfries, curries, omlettes, pasta, occasional glasses of wine. WOW!
Sounds like I let the reins go a bit too much and was destined to hit a cement wall real damn hard, right?! Very wrong. Because not that weight is a defining factor in who you are, but I am (collaboratively) the lightest, strongest and most well-fed I would say I have ever been. Above all else, I’m happy and accepting of me.
Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?
In hearing a few simple words, I’d started to break down the expectations that I took on. Expectations of what a PT should do, look like, eat like, train like.
Expectations of normal size.
Expectations of what foods I should eat. Of what foods should be eaten in general.
I demolished labels of overweight, good, bad.
I did this because it was a problem and I knew I needed a different standards to live my life by than those dictated by whatever fear I had accumulated in those 4 years.
Not an easy task, but very much a possible task, for those open minded enough to appreciate there is no ‘one size fits all’. I strongly believe we can only give what we know and have, so I’ve shared some insights with my clients, the most common of all being to find and make decisions from a place of calm.
(If we were meant to be fundamentally anxious humans, doctors wouldn’t continue trying to medicate us! HAHA)
I continue to encourage my clients to make choices that are anxiety-free.
I will continue to preach a lifestyle free of stereotypes and full of enjoyment.
I will continue to write programs based on principles of training, but incorporating likes and dislikes.
But above all else, I will encourage them to make a decision for themselves, first and foremost.
Life is too short to be unhappy, hungry and labeled.