Oh, yeah. Retired personal trainer. Body image. Vulnerability. Shame. Spanx. Blah. Blah. Blah.
It just so happens that tomorrow is the one year anniversary of me leaving my job as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor and manager at the gym I worked at. I was a hot mess a year ago - anyone close to me (and some not even so close) can attest to that. Even four months later when I wrote my first blog I was still in rough shape.
So where am I at one year later? What have I learned? I've come up with a list, in no particular order.
- How I speak about myself, especially when I'm alone, is the key to just about everything when it comes to body confidence and recovering from shame. Actively trying to find things about myself to be grateful for is absolutely necessary. And I know I am not alone based on the feedback I got from people during my Body Gratitude project.
- I do not miss working nearly every night outside the home. But at the same time I can hear a song while driving and miss teaching so much it makes me cry. I don't know when/if that will go away. But I'm 99.9% sure I am not going to teach or train again.
- I think that people that have battled weight issues and body image problems are so very necessary in the fitness world. They have a perspective when teaching and training that people that have never battled these things do not have and the connection they can make with people because of this is amazing.
- That being said, based on my own experience if you have a serious issue with weight and food and body image I would think long and hard before I recommended getting into the business. It's a slippery slope and a difficult image to uphold even if you never have these issues. If you struggle it can backfire on you. If anyone is seriously considering a job in fitness and wants me to explain further, feel free to contact me. Bottom line - if you can't balance taking care of yourself while you bust your ass to care for others - it's not the place for you.
- Jeans. They still suck. Surgery or no, I still can't find a pair of jeans to save my life. I think my issues are worse than they were before. Not a damn designer assumes that if you have ass and thighs like mine you will have a flat stomach. So as far as I can tell this is the truth: Jeans shopping sucks no matter what your size.
- So have I lost weight in the last year? I did for a little and now I haven't. I'm about the same as where I started, aside from what was removed during the surgery. Some may view this as a failure but I don't. I had a helluva year that seriously broke me emotionally. Any time this has happened in the past I have gained a considerable amount of weight. To maintain for a year while struggling so much is a big deal for me. I'm going to chalk that one up as a win.
- When I left the gym I thought to myself, "I'll show them. When they see me next I'm gonna be thinner and stronger and ripped and hot...", etc. Yeah, that didn't happen. Do you want to know why? Other than the fact that none of the people that hurt me would have even given a shit nor have they stayed in touch anyway, my desire for "revenge skinny" was impossible. It can't happen. Approaching health and weight loss out of anger and frustration and retaliation will never, ever work. Your body knows better than you when it comes to knowing what motivates you. I had healing to do before I could even think about changing my body.
- Can you still change your body while loving it? I think you can though if I'm being honest I still struggle with it. I try to focus on stopping the negative thoughts when I think about how I would like to change and focus more on the health aspects. And I really do miss feeling and looking strong. The recovery from surgery (and the lack of a routine since then) has really taken it's toll. I'm ready to get back to it and lift some heavy shit.
- I'm not meant to completely avoid any particular food group. I've tried and I've played with it all year. It's just not for me. Whatever you do to lose weight you have to be willing to do forever. Am I going to have some bread? Yeah, I am. *shrugs* What else will I put my favorite cheese on? Moral of the story - balance, moderation, focusing on whole foods. This is what works for me. It worked before and it's what I can maintain. I will no longer vilify any particular food group. Except cucumbers. I hate those things.
- Moisturizer. Get some. I've been horrible at skin care for 38 years and I finally got on board. What a dumbass I've been. Get thee to the mall.
- Weight loss or surgery - neither of these will fix you on the inside. Whatever problems you had before you will have them after. You'll just look different on the outside. God, I wish I had a dollar for every time I've had to relearn this.
- I seriously hate Fitspiration pics. You know - the Nike-esque pictures with motivational sayings that also happen to include a picture of a woman so graciously sprayed down with fake sweat so as to enhance her nearly perfect, body fat free physique? Google Fitspo and you'll see what I mean.
- I'm not always a nice person. There. I said it. Recently I found out that my former boss was fired from his current job and for a brief moment I was ecstatic. I was triumphant. It was one giant "I told you so"/middle finger and I had won. But deep down I know this does not really make me feel better. And I do worry about the financial situation that his family must face. I need to be better than this because his pain will never truly make me feel better. My problems are my problems.
- Sometimes it takes a real asshole to push you to make the decisions you need to make. (see above) (Yes, I know it's not nice to call names.) (I already told you I wasn't a nice person.) (see above) Fact: It was time for me to leave my job. I wasn't taking care of myself. I was burned out. My family was suffering. I was miserable. But my sense of obligation to that place, my manager and my friends/clients/class regulars kept me from making the decision I had to make. I owe the owner a debt of gratitude for pushing me that last little bit that made me gather up the pride and strength I had left and say "peace out". Thank you.
- Obagi Pore Therapy Toner. Get some.
- Sexy panties really do work wonders. Even if no one else can see them you know they are there. Again, get thee to the mall.
- This one is a doozy and just came to me in the last couple of weeks. It will take some explaining. You know how some people can pinpoint what started their weight gain? Abuse, rape, broken hearts - no wonder people are self-medicating. I actually think food is the safest way to ease that pain. It could be so much worse. I could never figure out what my "thing" was. I've had some inklings. I know of some pivotal moments for me but there is no concrete reason.
Then the tornadoes hit Oklahoma, my birth state. My grandfather still lives there and no one could reach him to find out if he was ok. In the end I decided to email one of my aunts that hasn't spoken to me in years. To describe everything that happened between me, her and her younger sister that ended our relationship would take way too long. Just know that it changed me forever. I grieved no differently than if they had died. Maybe worse because I knew they completely rejected me. Two people that I felt as close to as if they were my sisters. I promptly slipped into a major depression back then and gained a shit ton of weight. My highest weight even.
I prepared an email for her to find out what she knew. They often know more about family goings-on than the rest of us "black sheep" and neglect to tell us anything. I didn't even know if her email was the same. It took all I had to hit the send button. My heart was racing, my stomach sick, tears running down my face. What if she got my email and didn't respond? What if she didn't get it and I just assumed she was ignoring me? What if she actually responded and I had to take down the wall I had so meticulously built up around that part of my heart so I couldn't be hurt again by her? This was a no win situation and it scared the shit out of me. But I hit send anyway. Seconds later I got a text saying Granddad was ok. Mother fucker!!! (Not Granddad. Just the fact that I opened that can of worms when I didn't have to.)
This is my "thing". And I would venture to guess it's a lot of people's "things". Rejection. Abandonment. Being ignored. Loss of love and affection. And it all leads to one place - "I'm not good enough."
A lot of people have wondered why I was still hung up on this gym or the people there. Why did it still affect me so much? Why I was still hurt by the loss of a friendship that I thought would last a very long while but virtually disappeared the second I was no longer there to bust my ass? Why can't I just get over it?
I can tell you it goes back farther than that. It involves rejection from my father by absence. It includes my grandmother moving away and taking some of the people I cared most about with her. Attending seven different schools between kindergarten and senior year and having to lose friends and make new ones all over again each time. It includes being abandoned by every single one of my friends when I chose to marry the person I'm still with today. It involves a group of online friends that I love dearly and were pivotal in my weight loss that I lost for reasons I can't exactly explain but I'm sure I'm responsible for at least half of, if not more, for I have developed a nasty habit of pushing people away before they hurt me. And it includes losing two aunts who were there for me at some of my darkest moments when I lost a pregnancy and battled post-partum depression so severe it almost ended my life. They just left me.
Leaving the gym scared the shit out of me because I knew it would mean I would lose people again and I didn't know if I was strong enough for it. And the one person I thought I wouldn't lose I did lose. And in the defense of everyone from the gym that I felt had hurt me, they didn't know they would have the burden of fending off all my baggage on this issue. This is my load to carry. Not theirs. I have to forgive them for they didn't have the whole picture or know what their actions would do to me.
In the end this is still a success for me on this one year anniversary mark. It hurt me and it was so hard to lose people again, but I made it through. Just like I did before. I'm still here. Annoying the hell out of you people now. Maybe I'm starting to get stronger than my "thing".
- Love first. Change second. (I ought to trademark the hell out of that)
- And last but hopefully not least - this:
I'm ready to let it go. Trainer and instructor - that's all in the past. I'm just me now. No one to answer to but myself when it comes to my own body. It will continue to be a life long battle I'm sure and I'll do my best to write more often and share my experiences for as long as anyone finds it useful or relevant. And maybe for a while past that as long as it's useful to me.
Oh! I just thought of one more!
21. I'm kind of a big fucking deal. And so are you.