#realtalk …I also HATE Scales.

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Before I write this post, I would like to clarify a few things:

1. This post is meant to be an encouragement and inspiration, it is NOT to toot my own horn.

2. I’m not bashing weekly weigh-ins or denying a scale is a good tool.

3. I’m not looking for a million complements or haters.

Ok… now that you have some guidelines…

Sometimes I think that people believe that trainers are above the daily fitness and self-image struggles that seem to plague the rest of the world.

My trainer never wants/eats/craves junk food. FALSE. 

My trainer never gets tired. ABSOLUTELY FALSE. 

My trainer must love his or her body all the time. A COMPLETE LIE.

Show me a trainer who has never once struggled with body image and I will gladly invest in some training sessions with them. I could use that kind of mental resiliency.

But the truth is we struggle. We doubt. We criticize ourselves. We roll our eyes. We sigh. We avoid mirrors. We obsess about the scale.

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Ah… the scale. That stupid little machine that can be a good tracker and the destroyer of all sanity.

Let me tell you my struggle.

I had the beginnings of an eating disorder in college. I was stressed. Life was difficult. School was hard. And it was the one thing I could control. Counting calories became a game. I was obsessive. I quickly lost a lot of weight and dropped down to easily fitting in a size four. Fortunately, going home for the summer brought me out of my obsession. Sophomore year brought its own challenges and I severely struggled with my body image and self esteem. 

And then I started playing water polo and discovered STRENGTH.

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Real. Beautiful. Lift-really-heavy. Strength.

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My sophomore year of college was the defining point in my career path. In my fitness. In my view of myself.  I went from being a 120 lb 5’9″  size 6-8 to an 135 lb 5’9″ size 5-6 in a matter of a season. And I discovered a love for lifting.

Fast forward to the present. I am a triathlete. I participate in races lasting about 6 hours. That is a far cry from my freshman year of college when a ten minute ab workout left me shaky and exhausted because I had zero fuel left. That fact alone pushes me on to achieve greater levels of fitness. To be faster, stronger, better…

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But that doesn’t mean that the self-hate doesn’t come creeping up now and then. 

I am stronger now than I was playing college water polo. My bench press max has increased by 45 pounds in 5 months.  I can see greater strength, greater power, greater endurance. I love these muscles….

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Until I put on a dress or a shirt that isn’t made for a girl with shoulders…

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I am a cross country coach. For not being a runner other than  self-declared, I keep up pretty well. I am surrounded by athletes that are MUCH smaller than I am or those who lost weight during the season. My 150 lb 5’9″ size 6 frame towers over most of them.

That doesn’t help my self-image some days…

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But though I am not perfect, I have learned that the scale doesn’t define me. I may not weigh the same, but I am the same size or smaller, weighing more than I ever have before this.  In fact, I was told at the beginning of cross country that I would lose weight (a fact that I will admit I was slightly excited about), but instead I gained 5 pounds.  However, all my clothes got loser. My body fat went down. My muscle mass increased. Overall, I am healthier, stronger, and more fit than I was 5 pounds ago.

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Our mind can be our worst enemy. It can also be our best friend. Surround yourself with positive people and positive thinking. You are beautiful.  Why waste your energy on negative thinking?

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Photos courtesy of Kristin Marie Photography

Do what you love… and occasionally what you hate.

“Figure out what you love and do that!”

I’m just as guilty as the next trainer for telling people to find what they love and do that for exercise. Love the outdoors? Try hiking or biking.  Love weight lifting? Lift heavy things.  Love going out dancing? Try Zumba ® . Chances are good if you LOVE it, you are more likely to stick with it.

And I will continue to say this to all my clients.

BUT… 

(my favorite word… there is ALWAYS an exception right?)

There is power in doing something you hate.

What?!?! 

That’s right. Chances are if you hate it, it is probably because you aren’t good at it.  And chances are good that means you might get some benefit from it.

I’ll use myself as an example. I love fitness, activity, exercise… you name it and chances are good I am there. Pick up sports? Yep! Lifting? Absolutely! Swimming, biking, or running? For sure! Hiking or kayaking? Won’t say no!

But Zumba® ? Not a chance. No way. Not me. I have no rhythm or beat. I’m bad at it. And so I don’t like it.

But last night I had an hour to kill between cross country practice and training, so I gave Zumba ®  a shot (for about the 3rd time in my life). And here is what I thought… I’m moving laterally. I’m stretching. I’m twisting and turning. My goodness, I’m moving out of a linear plane of movement and this is good for my body (and preventing injury!) And so occasionally I will dance it out… 😉

But let’s back track. I said I love lifting. If you know me, that’s not a surprise.  In the last two months my strength has increase dramatically, even during higher sessions of cardio. What do I attribute it to? Adding in what I hat[ed]. I used to LOATHE push-ups and pull-ups.  I wasn’t good at them. And so I didn’t like them. And I didn’t do them (three sets of 10 was plenty thank you very much!).  However, I have a few lifting buddies who are big on push/pull. And so we added in a TON (like 150-300 a day) of push/pull for two weeks. Well, I got stronger, saw dramatic improvement in my musculature, AND… I kinda love push-ups and pull-ups now.

The point here is to challenge you. At least once a week, do something you “hate.” Challenge yourself. Keep improving. Make yourself better everyday.

-A