This is my very first blog post. Thank you for reading it. I have been thinking about writing it for about 2 years now but it’s been fear that has held me back. I’m currently taking a spiritual course and I feel compelled to write. When I look back at my successes, all of them have happened when I have done the things that I was fearful to do. It’s easier to stay in my comfort zone, but there is never any growth there. Most people know me as a personal trainer, so I’m going to tell my story as it relates to fitness.
My interest in fitness really began after I had my second daughter. Like a lot of moms I wanted to lose the baby weight. In 2008 I joined a soccer team with my friend and also started running a lot. Unfortunately, I was also drinking a lot. My world came crashing down in 2009 and all of the anger, hurt, resentments and fears could not be numbed anymore. This was a rock bottom and I got sober that year. That was the beginning of my spiritual journey! So now that I wasn’t sweating vodka out of my pores, I started to love my workouts even more. I joined a boot camp, which I did in the mornings and I was running with a group at night. It was extreme. Almost everything I did was extreme, but I have learned to lose that all or nothing mentality. It came to a point where I went for a physical and my doctor told me that I needed to gain weight. At the time I thought I looked great but I can now see how unhealthy I was both physically and mentally. Let me just say at this point that my love for fitness has always been genuine and continues to be today, but my mindset about it has changed drastically.
So I’m attending this boot camp and I’m loving it. The trainer is awesome and I am thinking to myself that I LOVE this! I can DO this! In 2011 I decide to become certified as a personal trainer. To gain experience I was training my friends and then in 2012 I was hired by a company as a boot camp instructor. This was very exciting and scary to me at the same time. I will never forget the first boot camp I ever instructed. We were more than sold out and I remember standing in a school gym in front of 20 women all looking at me for guidance. I was the shy girl in school, always afraid to say boo to anyone for the fear of sounding stupid and I am an introvert by nature, so this moment was both terrifying and life-changing for me. This moment will always stand out in my mind because it’s one of the first times that I saw how far I can go if I take that first step, in spite of fear. Fear may always be there, but the growth always comes in doing the thing that I was afraid to do!
The women in the boot camp were amazing and inspiring and I absolutely LOVED my job! The dark side to this was that I started to become obsessed with fitness. Not because of being a boot camp instructor, but because of underlying body-image issues that I had had since I was a teenager. Deciding that I wanted to take it to the next level, I hired myself a trainer that specialized in training clients for fitness competitions and I was going to compete. I am not against fitness competitions, I realize the amount of hard work and dedication that goes into training for one, but for me it was very detrimental. To prepare for a competition in a way that is healthy both physically, mentally and emotionally is very difficult. I certainly was not healthy in any of those ways at the time. In my mind I thought that having the perfect body would make me happy. I thought that having the perfect body was the key to everything-having the dream fitness job, having the dream guy…I thought that if I had the perfect body only then could I love myself. Now I realize that I had it I ass-backwards all along. I was training 2 hours a day, 6 days a week and the rest of the time I spent preparing my food. But I was on a mission. I would restrict my food all week and then on the weekend I would binge on anything and everything. It became a form of self-sabotage and self-destruction. I decided not to compete and I felt like a failure, but looking back on it now, I’m glad that I did not go through with it. The training ended but the bingeing did not. I started using food as a way to comfort myself. I would try to get back on the healthy-eating wagon by restricting my food and then I would slip off it and the eff-it mentality would kick in. In the meantime, I’m still training clients, I’m still running my boot camps-preaching about exercise and clean-eating and then going home and downing a bag of cookies or toasting a whole loaf of bread. I felt like a complete fraud! It was just like drinking, numbing my feelings with food instead. Sometimes I would have sugar ‘hangovers’ complete with migraines! I knew that I needed help because this addictive behaviour was familiar to me. With help from a therapist, I began a road to recovery. She recommended for me to read some of Geneen Roth’s books. I picked up a book called ‘Women, Food and God’ and by page 12 I knew that I wanted to go to her retreat.
In May of 2014, I traveled to California to attend the Women, Food and God retreat. It changed my life and the tools that I learned there are with me to this day. It helped me to stay present in the moment and allow myself to feel my feelings. One of the reasons I love yoga is because it helps connect my mind to my body and live in the now. It made me see that I had to work on loving myself, no matter what my body looked like. I was learning that my worth as a human being was in no way connected to my outer appearance. We are all soooooo much more than our physical bodies and who we are on the inside is what really matters. When I came back from the retreat, I continued to train and run my boot camps for a few more months but I had allowed the fear back in and decided to take the easy route out. That fall, I decided to go back to work in an office. It was a secure job with a great company and I worked with amazing people and……..I was miserable. Something beautiful came out of that experience; I realized that fitness IS my passion, I just needed to find a way to do it that felt healthy and authentic to me!
Lessons learned. Today I exercise regularly, not for the perfect body but for the way it makes me feel, for those happy endorphins and so that I can play actively with my kids and down the road grandchildren. I am now teaching fitness classes to seniors and they inspire me every day to stay fit for my longevity and health. With clients, I help them with general nutrition but I refer them to a nutritionist for detailed meal plans.I am mindful in the way that I eat. I slow down and enjoy my food. We are born with the intuition to know what our bodies need, sometimes the way we are raised has drowned that intuition, but if we listen, we know what foods make us feel good and what foods make us feel bad. Eating healthy makes me FEEL good, but I do have treats. I don’t beat myself up when I have a bad day. When I am feeling down, I can allow myself to feel that feeling without running away from it in food. Yoga, meditation and prayer help me to stay grounded and in the present moment. Connecting with like-minded people has been huge in all of my recovery.
It’s no longer all or nothing. If I can get in 10 minutes of exercise, then that is better than nothing! Forgiving myself is much more helpful than beating myself up for having a bad day.
Today I exercise and eat healthy because I love my body, not because I hate it. Self-love comes first and it is an inside job. Thank-you to all of my clients who have inspired me and continue to do so every day. Much love and gratitude! Julie.