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.
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.
Real. Beautiful. Lift-really-heavy. Strength.
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…
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….
Until I put on a dress or a shirt that isn’t made for a girl with shoulders…
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…
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.
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?
Photos courtesy of Kristin Marie Photography