One of my biggest vulnerabilities in this space is this:
I don't look like a fitness coach.
And I am not a born athlete.
Genetically, believe it or not, I wasn't given the best hand. I have an obnoxiously high body fat percentage and building muscle on my frame takes a shit ton of time.
I don't think I will ever have a six-pack.
I'm confident I will never choose to become a competitor or "fit pro" of any kind.
And I can almost promise you I will never have bulging biceps.
Growing up, I did activities that didn't involve teams or competition; things like tumbling and cheerleading. I was extremely active and actually underweight for a long, long time. I didn't hit 100 pounds or get my period until I was 16 years old.
Immediately after high school, I went to college and was overly ambitious with the "Freshman 15". I ended up putting on the Freshman 30 and slowly, over the next 6-7 years, put on another 15 pounds or so.
I had never paid close attention to the way my body looked. But suddenly, my clothes no longer fit me. My face was puffy. And I felt a deep deep shame for how I had allowed this to happen. Truthfully, it felt like I missed the "it's happening" and woke up one day in the "it happened". And I just didn't know what to do about it.
Suddenly. I was up six clothing sizes. I didn't even look cute in jeans and a T-shirt anymore. I was just miserable. I left so many dressing rooms crying. I would try taking walks, joining workout classes, and eating salads, but none of my efforts were impactful or consistent enough to pay off.
To put it simply, I had never fully learned the correlation between "calories in" and "calories out" which made me feel lost and confused most of the time. And behind the lostness and confusion were deep feelings of shame and embarrassment. How had I let myself get so big? I became mortified to eat in front of others and dug myself a huge hole of debt trying to buy clothes so cute that it would distract from how fat I felt I was. It was just a really miserable shame spiral that I was trapped in.
I associated myself with these words:
Have I mentioned what a miserable time it was?
Around the time I was 25, I was able to lose some of the weight thanks to my restaurant job. I was walking a ton and didn't have time to eat as much. Twenty pounds melted off of me.
Fast forward eight years, as I was going through my divorce in 2013. Another 20 pounds melted off of me. Looking back, I am sickened at how I let it happen; a diet of coffee and wine and maybe one small meal a day is how I accomplished that. I probably lost what very little muscle I had in that time as well.
In 2017, at 37 years old, I finally got tired of my own bullshit. Have you gotten there yet, too? Chances are, if you ask a fitness coach how they arrived where they are today, you'll hear a similar story. "I just got tired of my bullshit." You finally reach a point where you've had enough, and decide it is finally time.
I committed myself to more than just losing weight. I committed myself to learning. I committed myself to showing up. I committed myself to setting a good example for my daughter.
One day, maybe two months after I started working out consistently four days a week, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror and for the first time ever, I thought, "Athletic". I will never forget that moment because it was the first time I had ever associated that word with ME.
Now, I associate myself with these words:
It's been four rocky years. But I haven't quit. Do I look like your average fitness coach? No, I don't--at least, I don't think I do. But have I learned a lot? More than you can possibly understand. Have I developed tools and tips and a process to help others also start working towards achieving their health goals? I sure have. And am I going to keep moving forward with the same drive and intensity I always bring to this space? Yep--try and stop me.
I may not look like a fitness coach. But I have walked this walk and it's been hard. I've been skinny, I've been fat, and I've been everything in between. I've gone from not being able to lift 65 pounds off the floor to lifting almost 200lbs off the floor. I've added 100 pounds to my back squat.
My mess is my message; you don't have to look any which way. There are no rules about what someone who is interested in fitness looks like.
You will have setbacks. Your journey will take longer than you think and farther than you ever thought possible. Prioritizing and taking care of your health can and will have life-altering effects, perhaps in ways you never dreamed. Plant the seed and give it what it needs to grow.
I may not look like a fitness coach. But I am a fitness coach.