why my imperfect body makes me a better trainer

I grabbed your attention, I hope!  The other day I was watching a video by the fantastic Miss Cassey Ho of Blogilates, called The Perfect Body.  

Wow.  It spoke to me, and I’m sure it spoke to you.  I feel for Cassey and the message she is sharing, because, let’s face it, we’ve all had people judge us by our looks. It happens all the time in life, but when you get judged based on the way you look as a basis for your professional ability, that is a whole other issue!

The thing is, I’ve heard that sort of stuff being said about me too.

“You’re a trainer?  You don’t look like one.”

“She isn’t even fit.”

“But you’re not skinny.”

whatever, you’re mean

I don’t know when it happened, but people have their soapboxes piled to the sky these days, and it’s getting old.

By the way, I throw the word imperfect in *quotes* because it’s such a bullshit term.  Seriously, how many times do you hear in a day/week/month/year, “there’s no such thing as perfect, ” but yet it’s so easy to judge people for being less than this so-called status?

I’ve heard all sorts of (albeit rhetorical) questions about professionals and appearance, and, after giving it some thought, I also came up with the following responses.

Would you go to an overweight doctor?  Yes, most of my doctors have been slightly overweight, and when I was sick, they helped me get better.

Would you go to a hairdresser with bad hair?  Plenty of hairdressers I have been to do things to their hair that I would NEVER do, but they still make me look great, so yes, I do and I would.

Would you go to a dermatologist with bad skin?  Yes, I have also done this, in fact, my dermatologist told me the reason he got into the field was that of his personal suffering with painful cystic acne his entire adolescence.  He uses his genuine connection to help others every day, scars and all.

What’s my point here?

My point is that just because these professionals don’t look like what (supposing you pigeonhole people based on their physical appearance) a doctor, hairdresser, or dermatologist  “should”  look like, doesn’t diminish the quality of services they are trained to provide.  In fact, the very reason they most likely became interested in their field, probably came from their personal experiences or struggles, which motivated them to want to help others.  It also means, they are only human and still struggle.

All of these observations applies to the fitness world as well, if not more so.  Many people think that because a person is a trainer or fitness instructor, they should have 0% body fat and look like a fitness model.  While some trainers do look this way, a lot of us, well, don’t.  I am not a heavy person, but I am petite and curvy, and even though I have muscular legs and arms, I don’t have a washboard stomach and probably never will.

My “imperfect” body makes ME a better trainer.

I know, in this society, I am a walking advertisement.  And just because maybe I don’t look the way another person believes that I should, doesn’t mean I’m any less talented or worthy of what I do.

true.

When I was at my ZUMBA licensing, our ZES (Zumba Education Specialist) was incredible; she exuded confidence by being bubbly, energetic, and shaking it like it’s nobody’s business.  She’s also not a size 4 or 6, and doesn’t apologize for it – she is awesome at what she does, and that’s all that matters!  At about 5 hours into the training, she sat down to talk to our group about the importance of not judging people or allowing people to judge us by our size.

You don’t know why a person is out of shape or overweight, and believe me, I used to be one of those quick to judge types. Years ago, I probably NEVER would have listened to a person my size trying to teach me about how to make other people fit, but I have struggles and ZUMBA is what gave me my life back.  Don’t deny that from others and don’t allow anyone to judge your ability to lead based on how they view your body.”

However, people do this all the time, and it’s got to stop.

I’m not a good trainer because of what I look like.  I’m a good trainer because I’ve BEEN THERE.  I’ve been overweight.  I’ve struggled with bulimia and emotional eating. I’ve overexercised and injured myself.  I went through periods of despising physical activity.  I have struggled, and I have overcome, and I can help others do the same.

I used to be a person who didn’t have the tools to make myself healthy, and NOW I HAVE THEM.

I know how much work and commitment it takes.  I know that changing your life and working out isn’t easy.

I’m not always going to be the best fit for some people, but for others, I might create a sense of challenging comfort or a relatable struggle.

My body fat percentage and abs are not what make me a better trainer.

What makes me a better trainer is:  I’m the struggle and the progress, and whether the package I come in changes from pregnancy, aging, illness, or just a series of life events, the service, and passion I provide will be the same.  The only lasting change will be the wisdom I gain along the way – and that, in my opinion, can only make me more valuable.

I’m linking up with Jessica and Jill for #DishTheFit today and you should too! 

Do you feel fitness professionals have a duty to “look” the part?  Have you ever not taken a class because the instructor “isn’t fit”?  Do you believe in fitness at any size?

 

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manifesto

Happy Monday, troops!  Technically we’re not at the midway point of April just yet, but since this Monday falls the closest to the middle of the month, I figured it would be the best time to lay out my “motivation manifesto“.  My motivational manifesto is a mission statement for my life, because lately I’ve needed to reflect and work on personal development and growth.

If you’re a regular reader of Beets Per Minute, you know that one month ago I moved to Scotland to live with my husband, Luke.  It’s been an eventful, but challenging month for me.

  In Limbo

I’m still not feeling completely settled in, but that could have to do with most of my British identity still hanging in the balance.  I had an interview for my National Insurance number almost two weeks ago, but I still haven’t received it, which means I am still on hold for getting a job.  I never realized how passionate I am about leading fitness classes until I’ve now spent nearly FIVE weeks without leading one.

Not being in front of a class and feeling that rush has left me a little bit empty inside, truth be told.  I also haven’t been Spinning in almost five weeks, which has been super depressing for me as well.  I have been taking lots of long walks and runs over the past month, but I am seriously missing the fulfillment I get from pedaling my heart out on that bike.

it’s this real.

Status Quo

I will not beat myself up entirely, because I have done very well this month, all things considered.  With the exception of last Wednesday, when I ate in bed watching 7 hours of Coronation Street and EastEnders.

I probably should also include that I wore an As Seen On TV3 Way Poncho” all day.  (Including while I had to vacuum up half a bag of panko breadcrumbs, which I had spilled all over the kitchen floor.)  I was attempting to make my baked chickpea burgers, which I boasted to my husband about for literal months.  He was a trooper and ate two whole  piles of chickpea remains.  I think he could tell I had been crying.  Not the best day over here to date.

 

crying

Motivation Manifesto

So, after my designated day of feeling sorry for myself, I got myself up and out on Thursday for a walk in the sunshine and realized that, I’m kind of a jerk for getting myself into that state of mind.  Walking around Glasgow, married to an amazing man, and having my health; I should really have more perspective to work with at this point in my life.

So, I decided this weekend that I would get myself sorted out and put an end to this “life limbo” I’m feeling and regain control of my destiny.

manifesto

Seems easy enough, right?  It had to be done.  I’m not discounting my bravery for moving away from everything familiar to start this next chapter of my life.  However, I suffer from anxiety and tend to fall apart at the seams when I feel I have little to no control over a situation (which is the root to many, many a problem).

By placing this manifesto into my life, I simply need to follow it whenever I make a choice, and I will find my way with confidence.

  • Start doing things I love:  Write more.  Sign myself up for some Spinning classes and get myself into gyms and starting the process of subbing or instructing classes.  Bake delicious (mostly) healthy things.  Read more.
  • Stop over analyzing everything:  This is a biggy for me.  As I stated above, I am a worrier and suffer from anxiety.  My husband will tell you, I’m the “what if” queen.

“What if I don’t find a job?”

“What if I can’t have a baby?”

“What if I drive you crazy with my incessant what if’ing?”

UGH.  I’m pledging I will try my very best to not “what if” myself into a panic-induced-cookie-butter-out-of-the-jar eating frenzy.  If I am going to “what if” at all, it will be for the better.

“What if I find a great job?”

“What if I make loads of new friends?”

Better.

  • Be true to my passions:  Fitness, cooking, writing, loving, exploring, creating — do it and do it with intention and heart.

Can you spiralize a cookie?  More to come…

  • Stop comparing myself to others and make my own path, but allow others to follow it through leading by example:  This is a BIG one, and I think it is for all of us.  In a day and age where we’re constantly viewing a highlight reel of each other’s “lives”, it’s so hard to not compare where you are to where somebody else is.  It’s all crap, really.  My beautiful sister gave me a lovely card the day before I moved to Scotland with this Beatles verse from All You Need Is Love:

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be.

This is so true.  Even if you’re not CEO or earning loads of cash with a “perfect” life, you’re doing what’s right for you.  If you feel like you can do better, want better and get after it.  Comparison truly is the thief of joy, so I’m going to really do my best to stay zoomed in on me, myself, and I when it comes to what I’ve got going on.  It’s great to be inspired by others, but don’t let someone be better or have it better than you do, it’s a one-way ticket to not leaving your pajamas.  Screw that.  I’m going to continue to live a life that inspires others to be their best.

  • Never stop learning:  One of the great things about being in the fitness profession is the need to always continue your education.  I signed myself up for a Nutritional Therapy certification course last weekend, and I’m SO excited to get started.  The NT certification is all about nutrition, genetics, and improving individualized health by learning how people are affected by their dietary choices.  This course also allows me to continue my passion for learning about wellness.  I love that many of my friends and family come to me with questions about their diets and exercise plans and that I have been able to offer them helpful advice.   It’s never a bad idea to learn more, right?  I still suck at Scrabble.
  • Allow myself to be lost so that I never stop “finding” myself:  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said the phrase, “I feel so lost” — I’d have a bank account busting at the seams.  What’s so bad about being a little lost?  In fact, if I really think about it, all of the best decisions and outcomes I’ve had in life have come from being “lost” and “finding” something new about myself.

You know what Mr. Robert Frost (said in the style of Blanche Deveraux) said about taking a road less traveled; it made all the difference.

Robert Frost was kind of a big deal, so, I think it won’t hurt to take some advice from him. Just saying.

  • Live each day with courage and love:   Years before my father passed away, he wrote my sister a letter on life.  And in this letter he wrote, “when you do something, ask yourself, ‘where’s the courage in this?’  Acting with courage isn’t always the easiest thing, but who ever said doing the brave thing would be easy?

It isn’t always easy for me to face challenges, as I’m sure it isn’t for many of you.

I worry.

I get anxiety.

I let my insecurities get the better of my heart.

However, when it comes down to it, I pull through when the going gets tough!  I will ask myself when making choices where the courage is in it, and I will answer honestly and proceed with all my heart.  It takes courage to love ourselves and others with all of our scars.  I must remember, we’re all fighting our own battles, and to make it through we must do so with love and courage.

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Do you ever think, “I need to reevaluate my life?”  Have you ever written a manifesto for yourself?  What do you want from each and every day?

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can you make progress without a goal?

There is not a single person who has inspired me to live a healthy life, per se.

Sure, I could say that after losing my father to cancer it inspired me to live a healthier life, and yes, this is very true.

I could also say that coming from a family that struggles with health issues, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, is what inspires me to live a healthy life, and again, this is also very true.

Mostly I think what inspires me to live a healthy lifestyle is, to me, it’s the only option that makes sense. 

I have talked in previous posts about the type of lifestyle I used to lead; drinking and eating whatever and whenever I wanted.  Exercising intermittently (or not at all).

Struggling with binge eating and bulimia from the age of 15 certainly didn’t paint a blossoming portrait of health for myself either.  Using food as an emotional crutch to deal with my generalized anxiety and feelings of shame is now a concept that scares me.

Much like an alcoholic in recovery fears to return to the bottle; I am afraid of the reality of feeding my emotions to starve my well being.

2007 2015

2007                                                                                                   2015

I also live a life of progress and an unknown destination.  The very idea of having a concrete “destiny,” to me, is foolish.  Life is unpredictable, and the only thing we have any control over is what we do today.

How can You live a Healthy Life of progress without a goal?

By its very definition, progress is a forward or onward movement towards a destination.  However, when it comes to healthy living, I feel that a goal, or an act of appointing, setting aside for a purpose, or predetermining, can stunt progress by its very nature.

How many people make the statement, “if I just weighed 10 pounds less I’d be happier”? Lots of people, right?  I know I’ve said it thousands of times and I’ve lost that ten pounds over and over, but guess what?  I wasn’t happier.  How can that be?  I got to my “healthy” destination, right?  I lost the weight, which is something I thought would bring me happiness, but still, it’s not enough.

If you’re someone who thinks like myself, you might soon begin to feel defeated, empty, and wind up thinking, “that didn’t work, so clearly my standards are too low ” or “I guess I need to do better than this, maybe I need to lose another 10 pounds?”

You may argue that this is where you would continue your progress, and maybe your destination will then change, but the problem isn’t making progress by losing weight but is that you put too much pressure on the outcome.  You predetermine that once you got to your goal, everything would be better and that you would be happier.

The reality is a letdown when you discover that you’re no more content where you thought you “should” be, and frustrated that there will always be more you “should” do.

I know that fundamentally there is nothing that automatically makes my life better by weighing 98 pounds versus weighing 125 pounds, other than the fact that I may (or may not) have a healthier BMI with one versus the other.

However, don’t even get me started on the problems with BMI numbers.  I have discussed my issues with disordered eating in more depth, but that’s not really what this post is.

It’s important for me to stress my point, which is, when we strive for a predetermined “ideal” of healthy living, or what we perceive to be our “stopping point,” we walk a fine line of losing sight of our journey. Our daily focus should be on making healthy choices in the here and now.  This scenario changes by setting your sights on a result which you may or may not be able to attain, be it physical, mental, or emotional.  We all should know that unrealistic expectations sign us up for a lifelong membership to “club misery.”  Period.

I also want to stress that when I say destination, I am not using the word interchangeably with the term goal. Goals, or the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired resultcan be made as a way to mark progress, but your goals should not be the be-all and end-all of your journey.  One can have many goals in their lifetime, all of which are attainable through continued progress.

So, again, when I’m asked: “Who inspires me to live a healthy life?” Well, I do, because I’ve been on the other side of good health before, and honestly, there’s simply no contest. Healthy living wins every time.  It’s my progress.  It’s a continuing goal.  It’s limitless, not quantifiable by any chart, and amazing.  It’s life.

can you make progress without a goal?

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Where do you find your inspiration for living a healthy life? Join the conversation with Jessica and Jill!

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