One of the things that has been keeping me so busy the past couple weeks is the start of a 3-month corporate fitness challenge that I’ve organized and am overseeing.
One of the most amazing things about these challenges is watching people who don’t normally incorporate fitness into their lives get excited about joining a team, working together, and setting goals for themselves. It’s seriously so inspiring and one of the things that makes me really love my job.
Another thing these challenges do is bring my attention towards an entire group of people that I don’t always encounter on a regular basis.
My days are typically filled with clients who are excited to work out with me as a personal trainer, classes where people regularly show up, and workouts with like-minded people who push themselves to do better than they did the last time. I understand that not everyone’s life revolves around fitness, but in my line of work that’s a majority of who I encounter day to day.
This challenge allows me to work with people who come from a different background. I forget sometimes that people need to start with the basics and work their way up. I forget that not everyone knows basic moves such as squats and push ups since a majority of the people who come to me for training already have some type of background in fitness.
Losing weight and getting back in shape is hard and exercise is only part of the equation. Nutrition plays such a huge role, which can be overwhelming to add into the mix if you already have to worry about increasing your activity level.
The other night, I had a talk with someone after a class which gave me the inspiration for this post.
She was concerned that she might have to double up on classes in a day because she wasn’t as dedicated as she was the previous year. She was now in a relationship and one thing they enjoy doing is going out to eat. She was afraid that because she wasn’t being as diligent with her eating habits, she was somehow failing herself in this challenge.
I’ve had my fair share of both exercise and eating issues. One of the reasons I became a personal trainer was so that I could use what I’ve gone through in that arena to help others find a more realistic view of health. When I hear people talk about their own issues and how they use food or exercise as a way to make themselves feel worse, I immediately tap into those feelings I can empathize with so well.
I get a little angry. I’m not angry at them; I’m angry at society. I’m angry that I went through the same cycles for nothing. I’m angry that this woman is in a happy relationship, yet derives unhappiness from an activity they enjoy doing together.
Here is my take on it. There is a constant push and pull battle for women when it comes to appearance, exercise, and food. Perhaps men too, but I can only speak from my experience. We think we need to look a certain way or that a certain weight will make us happy and socially acceptable.
We are told through both overt and covert messages that we can’t have too many desserts (or pizza or snacks or whatever). If we do, we should feel guilty about it. We should shame ourselves for a lack of self-control. WE WILL NEVER FIT INTO THAT DRESS IF WE HAVE ANOTHER COOKIE.
Food is delicious. Food should be celebrated. The only person that matters right now is you. Are you happy? Are you content with your life? If you’re not, figure out what you need to change and change it. The more confident you are and the more you learn to love yourself, the less those external messages can influence you.
Have a cookie. Have two cookies. Just be smart about the foods you eat. Don’t buy a dozen donuts every day, but certainly have one if it’s something you enjoy. We have one life and it’s too short to waste by telling ourselves we should have eaten broccoli instead of ice cream.
As I shared on Instagram the other day, I know it’s not a simple thing. It’s years of self-training that needs to be undone. For some, there’s a deeply emotional component involved with food. For me, I reached a point where I wore myself out with the constant back and forth. There was so much more living I needed to do without wasting time telling myself how many dried cranberries I was allowed to eat.
I hate that we need to be told that one workout a day is enough. I hate that we feel like we need permission to take a day off or enjoy a coworker’s birthday cake. I just want all of us to learn to be confident in our decisions and do what’s best for us in any given moment.
For any of you struggling with anything similar, PLEASE remember — it’s ok to eat.
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.