Sunday, October 21, 2012

Confessions of a Recovering Personal Trainer

Once upon a time I was 308.5 lbs. Three-Oh-Eight. I vaguely remember that person and I have occasional glimpses of her even now, real or imaginary.  I think I'm still her in those last few seconds before I pull my jeans up all the way and pray that they will still button. When I work up a lather wrestling myself into a pair of Spanx - yep, I'm that girl. And I'm her when I walk between tables at a restaurant and still turn sideways between the chairs, even though I fit now.  Most of the time.

I was over 300 lbs. and a size 26 when I decided I had had enough and I was going to do something about it. Just a little under 3 years later I was 129 lbs. lighter, a size 10 and a Personal Trainer.  The journey of how I got there is a story for another day - the one that had a happy ending to that "once upon a time".

This is a different story.  The one where I hated the word "inspiration".  There one where "motivation" made my teeth hurt. The one where getting up to teach a class or train clients who are actually thinner than me made me want to drive right to Dairy Queen on the way home from the gym and get a Peanut Buster Parfait. (I never actually did that.  I do have some self-control.  I sent my husband after the kids went to bed.)

It starts as your typical love story.  Girl meets Gym. Girl obsessively stalks Gym. Girl gets a job at Gym so they never have to be apart. Sadly, it ends the same way as those love stories, too.  Girl gets her heart broken. Girl eats a whole pizza by herself. (Ok, I haven't done that in YEARS.  I swear!)

I think I can pinpoint the exact moment when I made my mistake. I was interviewed for an article in the local paper which highlighted my story of going from morbidly obese to personal trainer.  I had agreed to do it begrudgingly because I thought it would bring publicity to the gym. But, contrary to popular belief, I loathe being the center of attention and detest the pressure of being a "role model". The article very nearly gave me hives. I did it anyway.

At one point the journalist asked me, "So why did you want to become a personal trainer?" I gave her the real answers: 1) I wanted to give back to the Gym that I loved and to which felt like I owed so much. 2) I wanted to show other people who were just like me that they could do it, too, without resorting to surgery. 3) I thought that working in the fitness industry could serve to be part of my maintenance plan and help keep me in check, because (wait for it...) "Nobody wants a fat trainer."

I swear if you think back on that day - if I could give you the exact moment - you would recall that you felt a slight shift in the air pressure.  Maybe a chill that wasn't there before. I know you had to have some sense of impending doom that you couldn't quite put your finger on.  I will tell you exactly what it was.  That was Ms. Karma and she was chuckling to herself while polishing up her bitch slapper. That week was my lightest week on the scale - the smallest number I ever saw in my adult life. And it was all up hill from there.

I think I was pretty good at what I did.  My classes were full.  I had a ton of clients.  I made them laugh and I pushed them through discomfort to do things they didn't think they could do. I gave them good workouts and taught them proper form.  And when they needed hugs or needed to cry, I was there.  And there wasn't one emotion about weight-loss that I couldn't sympathize with them about.  I've experienced each and every one.  What they told me most often was that they liked me because I was "real". (I think this was a nice way of saying I wasn't a rock hard fitness goddess they could never measure up to. Ok, I'll take it I guess.)

Flash forward 3 1/2 years. I was physically and emotionally drained. I felt devoid of any passion. I felt brow-beaten and disrespected by an employer who called me venomous and derisive. I felt like a stranger half the time in my own home because I was absent so much due to my schedule. I had given every bit of myself to Gym and I was leaving with so little.  Except for one thing - that I had in abundance. Karma is nothing if not true to her character because I. Was. Fat.       Again.

I taught my last classes and trained my last clients a little over 4 months ago.  There were a lot of tears that week.  Who am I kidding? There were tears every day for weeks before that week and probably for more than a month after that week.  I'm in full recovery mode now.  I'm trying to heal and make myself a priority and be healthy again and it's about 1,000x harder than it was when I was 308.5 lbs.  Back then I was full of hope and excitement and the dreams of "Oh, God, please just let me get to a size 16 again.  If I could get there I could be happy forever." Trying to start over when you are broken and damaged and embarrassed of where you are now compared to where you were? Well, played, Karma. Well played.

I'm starting a new story now.  One where I learn to care for myself again. Where I make peace with my body and respect it rather than try to beat it into submission.  Where I find joy once again in feeling strong and fit without doing it in the public eye. And maybe, just maybe, my story of fat-to-trainer-to-fat again will help someone else down the road so that they don't make the same mistakes I do, forgetting to take care of themselves first. And if not, I hope I at least make you laugh and not even care that you have a fat blogger.


  1. I'm following and reading... don't stop now...

  2. You own this. I love it.

  3. I'm sitting here awestruck. Girl it feels like a good movie, but it's your life. My life. A lot of folks life. Please keep writing. I promise not to count on you as an inspiration...unless you want me to. Shit just got real. Thank you for this.

  4. This line is hitting me square in the face right now:

    "Trying to start over when you are broken and damaged and embarrassed of where you are now compared to where you were? Well, played, Karma. Well played."

    Exactly. Exactly that. 2 years ago I was in practically the best shape of my adult life. Now I struggle with not wanting to hide under a damn rock.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!