You are a personal trainer? May 14 2017

For those who have known me for a decade or two may have some insight about me. Although, I can be a bit of a closed book, so perhaps you really don't know. Regardless, I want to discuss a bit about how I've identified myself for the majority of my life and how that intertwines with my occupation. 

In 2006/2007, I had finally put together that I *clearly* had issues with food. I think a coping mechanism up until this point was just brushing off the fact that food is an answer to many of my problems. I was a chunky kid. I would eat anything and I used food not to provide fuel or nourishment, but often to feed my emotions. By the end of 2007, I was engaging in binge/purge habits and I was struggling with emotional/mental issues of disordered eating, self-love/acceptance, etc. 

In early 2008 was the beginning of "my weight loss journey". I think this experience was one of the hardest things I've ever had to sort through emotionally. It was very challenging for me to deal with people providing unsolicited advice, feedback, comments, criticism, etc. Especially as I started to identify as a 'skinny person' for the first time in my life. I am grateful that this experience led me to working in the fitness industry, but some aspects certainly messed with my head. My words of advice if you know someone going through body composition changes: ask how they are and be super mindful of word choice. Gaining/losing weight can be hard. I wish I had the courage to tell people that hurt my feelings that they way they talked to me was painful and damaging.

In 2009 I enrolled at ISU. I was overly thrilled to know what area I wanted to study and get into an industry to help others. I was definitely still working on understanding who I was (becoming) at the time. In fact, by my 2nd semester at university I sought out a counselor to help me work through some of my issues. This was the best decision ever and I think everyone could benefit from a trained professional to work through any issues they may have. In working with my counselor, it was really hard to come to terms with my eating disorder. I worked really hard on building up my self-esteem. To appreciate my food as a source of nourishment instead of dreading making meals or being obsessive about calorie / macro intake. The hardest part? Admitting to myself and loved ones that I was bulimic. Labels are hard. They're hard to process. And I have an intense fear of being judged. Were my family and friends now judging me based on this new label? These discussions create(d) a lot of anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. 

I still work on these issues. And working in the fitness industry has brought on other labels, too. I almost always dread telling people that I'm a fitness professional / instructor / personal trainer. Why? Because most times than not, I get what I call the 'up and down'. A lot of people, probably many without realizing it, look at me from head to toe to judge if my body represents what a personal trainer should look like. I think we all know what box society wants to put fitness professionals in in terms of physical appearance. But my body doesn't represent my knowledge and experiences in the workforce. I have to remind myself that I am making a positive impact on my client's lives and I am doing a great job even while I feel I'm a work in progress. 

I stepped on the scale for the first time today in ... months ... a year? I don't even know. I weight 180 pounds. At my lowest, I weighed 130. It's super hard to not let these numbers upset me, anger me, get the best of me, define me, etc. But you know what? Regardless of the scale, this body that I have right now has done AMAZING things. Things that I couldn't have done when I weighed less. I know that fitness has many looks. I know that this body of mine today is very fit, healthy, and I should be proud of it! But sometimes I need to remind myself of this. 

I am hoping to just keep moving forward. To listen to my body. To provide fuel when my body/soul needs to be nourished. To enjoy movement because it makes me feel good, strong, fast, powerful, and inspiring. To be mindful of how I eat. To allow myself to indulge and feel okay. To be forgiving when I overindulge. To not become obsessive about food. To continue to love myself when the world feels overwhelming or when my inner voice is saying cruel things. To embrace my feelings and know that I will be okay. To be able to discuss my insecurities without fear of judgment. To understand that people who are judgmental are not allowed to take up space in my mind or heart. 

I am not alone;
you are not alone.
We are more than labels.
We are worthy of love, acceptance, respect, etc. 
And when life feels really hard or overwhelming, it will be okay. <3

I AM a personal trainer. And I'm damned good at what I do, not matter what my body looks like.