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.
Today starts week 4 of being completely dairy-free. Now, you may be wondering why I decided to give up dairy. There’s a long list of reasons, but for brevity this is what you get: Jon and I we eat way too much of this inflammatory food – like every meal has milk or cheese in it, I’ve had an ELISA/ACT blood test done and I have a sensitivity to milk, dairy has gotten fucking expensive, and I don’t have a God damn gallbladder. So after years of going back and forth I finally cut the fucking cord.
I was dairy-free when I met Jon years ago. I drank soy lattes and bought Amy’s Vegan frozen pizzas. Once we started dating I didn't pay attention to what we were eating - as long as it was organic, local, or homemade I ate it. Pre-Jon I followed a strict low fat diet, not because I wanted to lose weight – okay I did want to lose 40 lbs, but mainly because I had my gallbladder removed back in 2007. (Big shout out to Nicole and Pat for spending spring break with me in the hospital). After I had my “maraca” removed, yes - the radiation technician compared my gallbladder to a “maraca,” eating dairy and meat put me to sleep. To this day eating a hamburger will send me into a comma. I go to bed at 7:30p not necessarily because I am tired, but because I eat ice cream at night (wicked sweet tooth) and it's super difficult for my body to process the fat because I don’t store as much bile as someone who has a gallbladder. Side note, DON’T HAVE YOUR GALLBLADDER REMOVED! DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO KEEP IT! Also, when you are going into surgery, don’t joke about keeping your gallbladder as a maraca. They don’t take too kindly to that kind of joke.
So here I am, dairy-free...again. The first couple of days, okay week, was pretty hard. Thanks to my dairy-loving husband I fell in love with real cream. I LOVE coffee with real cream. Not half and half, motherfucking whipping cream. Before Jon, I just put soy milk in my coffee. Oh sweet baby Jesus, real cream in your coffee is downright dangerous. I also have to thank Morning Fresh Dairy Farm in Denver for having pint-sized re-usable glass containers full of their delicious cream. For which I would have never started putting cream in my coffee. Real cream has been the hardest thing to get rid of. I tried soy milk, yuck. Coconut oil, bleh. Coconut manna, don’t do it. I was about to just quit drinking coffee when a friend said to drink it black. He promised I would get used to it. Sure as shit I am used to drinking black coffee. Surprised the fuck out of me.
Has it been worth it? That's the question of the hour. When I met Jon my periods were 3 days long and I had no cramps. I know, lucky me. My overall mood back then is up for interpretation. My periods overtime have become longer, averaging 6-7 days. I have wicked ass cramps and I am irritable as fuck. My latest period lasted 3 days and I had no cramps. This could be from eliminating dairy or the fact that I was at a yoga training and moving a lot. My gut says dairy because I wasn’t pissy at the yoga training. Trust me when someone says something stupid when I am on my period, I let them know it was stupid. I was very level headed through out the entire training. I was even okay with no room service on Saturday and Sunday - and I was hangry as fuck when I got to the hotel room the last night of training.
Here’s your chance to skip down cause I’m gonna talk about my poop. My poops used to float. Floating poops usually mean malabsorption of the nutrients in your food, you have gas, or undigested fat in the poop. Floating poops also are a sign that you could be lactose intolerant. My poops were also kinda yellow. Yellow poop indicates a lack of bile. Um, hello no gallbladder! In the past couple of weeks poops are consistently darker and don’t float. They are also taking on the banana shape – like poops are “supposed” to be.
In all honestly, I still think it is too early to tell if eliminating dairy is doing any long-term good. Yes, I am down a couple of pounds, I am wanting to stay up later at night, my last period was lighter, and my poops look like poop. I’ll have to wait and see for a couple of more months. For now, I am drinking my coffee black and am learning to make dairy-free cashew mozzarella for Saturday night pizza.
2016 certainly has been quite the year for celebrity deaths, at least that is what Facebook has led me to believe and if it’s on Facebook it has to be true. Over the Christmas holiday George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds all passed away days from each other. All three of them died from complications of heart disease.
I get that people are upset about celebrities dying, seriously. I want to address the elephant in the room. Heart Disease. I studied the shit out of heart disease in grad school. It’s a big fucking deal. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention the number one killer of men and women in America is heart disease.
I don’t really feel like spewing out numbers and data are helpful in putting this in perspective. Instead here is a list of the popular the celebrities that died of heart failure in 2016:
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Did you or someone in your family have a brush with heart disease this year? In previous years? I know I did. My paternal grandfather died of a heart attack. My Uncle on my mother’s side luckily survived a heart attack. My husband’s step-father had open heart surgery in November. He is recovering fine. I can go on and on with examples from work and friends but I won’t. Needless to say, heart disease is in our culture. American culture. If you haven’t been touched by heart disease, consider yourself fucking lucky.
Okay, so now what? Prevention. This is where people usually get all butt-hurt and defensive. You have to eat actual food. Not the processed shit food companies call food, but actual vegetables, fruit, grains, grass-fed meats (if you insist on eating flesh) and nuts. I am an advocate of an organic plant-based diet. People will fight me on this. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on the plant-based diet. Organic is a non-negotiable. Yes, organic is not what many think organic is. Organic is still sprayed, but it is not sprayed with petro-chemicals. Think pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are designed to attack the “pests” endocrine system eventually leading to death of the said “pest.” The government has declared a “safe” level for human consumption. I am rolling my eyes here.
Here’s the problem. The levels determined by the government doesn’t take into consideration that many people are eating multiple foods that have been sprayed. So the “safe” level set for specific foods is moot because you are consuming multiple foods that have been sprayed. You cannot tell me that this does not have compounding effect in the body. It is possible that if you only eat apples that have been sprayed and everything else that you consume is clean and had not been contaminated with endocrine disruptors, that maybe you won’t have any adverse health effects. (I am not a scientist and there haven’t been long term studies published on organic vs. conventional – BUT I would argue with the rise in heart disease and other degenerative diseases there might be a correlation). Let’s be really fucking honest here. You are not just consuming one food that has been sprayed, you are consuming a crapton of food that has been sprayed. Moral of the story, eat clean fucking food. I eat about 95% organic – I have an Indian and pho problem. I usually suffer for a day with food baby, gas and smelly poops when I eat those foods too. I am working on perfecting my pho broth. I’m just fucked with Indian.
There’s more? Yes, there’s more. You have to get off your ass and get your heart pumping. I’m not saying you have to run marathons, you just need to get your blood flowing.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity per week for cardiovascular health. I had a client many years ago who was showing signs of heart disease. She didn’t understand why. She said she walked her dog twice a day for about 45 minutes at a time. Come to find out she wasn’t getting her heart-rate up during the walks. You have to get your heart-rate up! That’s my biggest beef with those stupid fucking step counters. I don’t give two shits if you do 10,000 steps in a day. I care more about your heart-rate. Did you get it up during that time? No? Well then you ain’t doing shit for your cardiovascular health. Try again. Oh and this recommendation is for cardiovascular health only. If you are looking to lose weight and look good naked you got to do more than cardio. Especially if you are a woman over 30 – but that is a blog in and of itself.
2016 is about to end. I know this is the time of year where people try and commit to eating healthier or exercising or to quit drinking. It takes 30 days for something new to become a habit. It also takes a lot longer than a week to see results. Stick with it. Find a friend to can hold you accountable. If you are like me, get a journal and go type A compulsive on this shit. Ultimately you decide your grave.