I originally wrote this back in May. I went back and forth on whether or not to even post this. I can make up stories about what people think about me, but in the end it’s the stories I tell myself that are worst.
There is an unspoken rule in the personal training industry: if you are a female you have to be thin and look like Tracy Andersen and if you are a male you have to be bulky and look like the Rock. I wish I could make shit like this up, but I can’t.
I’ve always struggled with my weight and body image. My sister has always been skinny and I always wanted to be as skinny as her. Come to find out she has an autoimmune disease and a crapton of food allergies, which explains her difficulties gaining weight.
After graduating college I moved to Denver, CO and landed a pretty cushy job with an insurance company. By 2008, I had ballooned to 196 pounds. The company happy hours and dinners were having a huge impact on my health and weight.
One day during lunch I bought Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore's Dilemma. This book busted open the doors to how I began to think about the food I put in my body. Michael Pollan’s philosophy on food worked for a little while, but then I was back to my old habits. At that time in my life, I wasn’t ready for change. I was in denial, I was depressed, and I was convinced that this is how real adults lived. A couple of months later after a night of binge drinking, and my sister being pretty harsh with her words, I made some drastic changes, fast.
I immediately quit drinking alcohol, cold turkey. I got shit from people at work, but I did it. I started eating organic and smaller portions. The eating organic came down to taste; the conventional fruit genuinely tasted chemically. If was going to eat more of fruits and veggies, they couldn’t taste like scratch n’ sniff sticker. I also became a vegetarian.
I was finding success with my new, easy to follow, non-scientific approach to food. My approach: cut everything I eat in half and make sure it’s organic. That’s it. Oh and don’t eat meat. This worked! By the time I met my husband I was down 20 pounds.
After about a year and a half of doing this experimentation with my own diet, I decided that I wanted to go back and get my Master’s in nutrition. During that time I also got certified as a Personal Trainer. I had no real intention of ever becoming a trainer. It was just something as an “added value” I could give my nutritional clients. The plan was to partner with a trainer and have them workout the clients and then I would provide nutrition consulting. That never happened.
I was laid-off in 2010. I scrambled to find a job and I eventually broke down and found a Personal Training gig. I went to the interview and was offered the position. I started out just working part-time; picking up shifts here and there. The clients loved me and the owners did too. I began to pick up more and more hours. There were days where I was training clients for 10 hours straight. Not a big deal if you are one of those shitty big box gym trainers that just stand around looking at their phone. If you have a trainer that does this, fire them immediately!
On average, I was working out around 4 hours a day with my clients. I would jump in and demonstrate a move/sequence I wanted them to complete or challenge them in a plank off or push-up match. What took the most energy was teaching the small group training sessions. If you’ve take a class from me, you know that I move around, dance, adjust, demonstrate, and try like hell to make you forget you’re in a class. I also need to mention that I was training clients on the Power Plate**.
Clients would constantly complement my on my size. I’m 5’9, weighted 120lbs and was a fucking size 2. Yep, I managed to drop 75 pounds just through diet. Later I found out I got the job because I looked like I used the products and that gave customers confidence to buy said products. Let’s be really fucking honest here. Are you going to buy a program for fat reduction and weight loss from someone who is skinny or on the larger side of the spectrum? If you said you would buy from someone who is larger, you are a liar or you were not our target client.
Clients wanted to know what I was doing to stay thin. Was I using the products? What did I eat? What other workouts did I do? It started to take a toll on me. I began to get scared to gain weight. Like, if I got bigger I would lose my job or people wouldn’t find me credible as a trainer anymore. There were days where I would skip breakfast and lunch, down a 20oz coffee, train with clients, and then go home and have a salad for dinner. My eat-only-within-250-miles-organic-vegetarian-idealistic-twat diet turned into a full on eating disorder. I was sustaining myself on caffeine, water, and vitamins.
If it weren’t for the fact that we sold my house and moved to Portland, I would’ve kept this up. There were people that were concerned about my health. My family and a really good friend was scared that I was getting too thin. They didn’t know how to confront me knowing that I had battled my weight for years. To be honest, had they had said something I would have just played it off as “I am a god-damn personal trainer!”
The fact is, I was using my job as a personal trainer as an excuse not to eat. In retrospect it should have been a red flag. I’m a fucking health professional for fuck-sakes!
When we moved I quit working out as much and I also began to eat, a lot. Portland has some of the best fucking organic food and you can bet your sweet ass I ate my fair share of Korma and Pad Woon Sen.
The weight gain came. The size 2 pants grew to size 6 in less than 2 months. I know #skinnypeopleproblems.
This was 5 fucking years ago and I’m still dealing with the psychological bullshit from being that small (unhealthy). I look back at pictures and I look like a waif. I don’t look healthy at all. BUT, people were telling me I looked great!
Our society puts way too much pressure to be thin, not necessarily healthy. I’m not surprised when I read stories about how the “clean” eating movement has created eating disorders. Shit, I am one of their statistics!
What can you do? You have to be ready to make sustainable long-term changes. If you’re not ready to that, you’ll beat yourself up when you fall back into old habits. If someone is trying to sell you a packaged deal, it’s probably a fad and you should toss it to the curb. Honestly, if it’s something you don’t see yourself doing a year, 5 years or even 10 years from now, it’s not for you.
Keep it simple, ask for help, eat real food, and don’t fucking skip meals!
**This machine is amazing and is used to train boxers, sports athletes, and Madonna. When I win the lottery everyone I love will get one from me.