My body is tired, it just wants to sleep. I think I'm getting sick, my body feels so worn out. But...I drag myself out of bed at 4:30 in the morning because I have to get my workout in. No excuses. It has to get done. I have 7 days to get 6 workouts in. I can't miss today. No matter what it takes, I commit myself to a daily workout and will stop at nothing to make sure it gets done.
Meet me...3 and a half years ago.
I was driven and dedicated. I was relentless in my pursuit of a strong and sculpted body. I would cry on the elliptical. I would collapse on the bench as I held weights to my chest, using every ounce of mental strength I had to continue my workout. I spent plenty of time on the floor of my gym, giving myself pep talk after pep talk to just give it a little bit more. I split workouts up, spending 40 minutes lifting weights in the morning and 40 minutes at night doing cardio. I received so many compliments on my tenacity that it made my head swirl. Nothing could stop me. And I kept that pace for well over a year.
And do you know what the me today would say to the me back then?
Fuck that shit.
Yep, those would be my words. Without question.
The me back then had hair falling out. Her body was falling apart and she seriously suffered from adrenal fatigue and amenorrhoea. Back then I felt I barely had the energy to care for my daughter and newborn son. My moods were up and down while my anxiety peaked. But that body.....heck yes it looked great.
Why is it that we idolize extremes? Why do we put pride and emphasis on giving, being, doing MORE! I see these people on Facebook and Instagram talking about how they push through illnesses and sacrificed so much in their lives to get in another workout. And I see the people that applaud them, encouraging them to keep running their body into the ground. Yes, I absolutely admire strength and determination, and I strive for both. But I don't admire it when it sacrifices health or happiness.
Why do we aspire for things we know are not realistic in our own life? I had so many people messaging me and complimenting me, telling me they were jealous of my body or that they wished they had the motivation I did. But did they really? Because honestly, anyone can accomplish the physical feats I did. It wasn't anything spectacular, I just paired consistency with hard work. And I was put on a pedestal because of it. But back then I was guilty of ignoring my body's signals and forcing it to give me more anyway. Despite just having had a baby, signs of serious adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction, I pushed and pushed and pushed. And I'm probably still paying for it to some degree.
The me of today has energy. She typically feels happy and high on the blessings life has given her. She works out when she's feeling it but never more than 20 minutes per day (well sometimes, but not often). Her hair is thick, her menstrual cycles regular and she is (usually) pleasant to be around. She does yoga. She meditates. She can lift heavy things even if you can't see the outline of her muscles. Her legs can run, her arms can lift, and her core supports her through life. And for the love of God, she feels so much freedom. In her ability to eat what she wants and when. In having time during the day to indulge in things that she loves.
I am happy.
Sure, I almost split my pants the other night when I put them on (in an attempt to get out of yoga pants for Christmas dinner). Sure, the scale yells at me when I step on it, reminding me that the weight I'm at now is the heaviest I've been in my life (minus pregnancy). And yes, being in a bikini isn't as fun as it used to be....however.... Back then I was wearing size 0 and when I was on stage competing, I was aware that even that size was getting too big on me. I needed a 00. Even back then that concerned me. I'm more like a size 4 now, and despite what the scale says, when I wake up and look in the mirror, I think I look pretty darn good. (don't ever let that piece of shit dictate how you feel about yourself)
I have freedoms I never used to have. I don't have to think twice about eating dessert at a friend's house after dinner. I don't have to package my own foods when I'm at a sporting event. I can miss a workout without being riddled in guilt, wondering how I can make up that lost time.
I sleep in when I feel my body needs it.
I aim to workout 4-5 days a week but cap it at 20 minutes so I don't burn out. And I'm ok with that.
My clients no longer feel pressure to reach a level of fitness I had reached. Because it's not necessary. And I no longer have the mindset that you need to push the body until it can't handle anything more.
Now here comes the other side of that coin.
I do believe in living outside the comfort zone. I do believe in pushing the body to find more strength and endurance. I love the concept of growing and learning every single day. I believe if you stay in a state of comfort and security either within the body or within life, that we become stagnant and miss out on incredible opportunities to evolve. Yes I like to lift really heavy weights and challenge myself when I work out. Yes, sometimes when I go for a run I sprint at the end until I can no longer breathe. Sometimes I have the energy. Sometimes that energy comes from heartache or anger. Sometimes that energy comes from me wanting to prove to myself that I am strong and capable.
But do you know what I hold above those beliefs?
The belief that the body is smarter than we are, and we need to listen to it and honour it.
When I work with my clients now, I listen to their goals, we deem what's realistic in their life and I create workouts for them that are quick, challenging, flexible and efficient. No fillers, no hour long sessions...because I won't ask of them what I wouldn't ask of myself. (The exception perhaps being sport specific training)
If I'm coming down with a cold, I rest my body so that it can focus on healing.
If I'm extra stressed out, I move harder and faster because I know the extra hormones need a release before they build and create inflammation, anxiety, anger and other imbalances within my body. But then I balance that out by ensuring I meditate a bit longer, or add in a yoga session, so my body also can relax and repair.
I workout hard to thank my body and to remind it of it's capability. But I also tone down my workouts, moving slower and lighter if I feel this is what my body is asking of me. And in learning to do this, my body has given me exactly what I need from it - energy, strength, endurance and also health and reliability. Many months ago I attended a Bootcamp in Toronto from an (Instagram) famous trainer. While I was amongst one of the oldest in the group, and I was a bit uncertain of what I could do because I have cut my workouts back so much....I killed it. I absolutely killed that workout and I was so proud. I never stopped when most others needed a break. I didn't feel defeated when others weren't sure they could make it through. I felt strong and capable, and while, yes, it was challenging, I was so proud of what my body did for me. Because I have been gentle with it when I have needed to, and pushed it when I felt it was asking me to.
My point is this.
There is no honour in pushing your body to sickness and depleting yourself just to get in one more workout (yes, this used to be me!)
Learn to speak and listen to your body. Honour it. Nurture it. Love it. Heed it's signals and push it when it feels ready and willing.
And in establishing such a relationship with it, you will find so much freedom.
My goal is to bring you quick, efficient and easy to implement workout and healthy food ideas to make your life easier without sacrificing your well-being. Keep an eye out on my Facebook or Instagram pages for more