Exercise never came easy to me.
In another life, I was an actor - health and fitness wasn't my jam. I once said that I would develop an eating disorder before I would ever step foot in a gym, which ended up being more true than I thought it would when I said it.
Flash forward and a career in health and fitness is a running gag in my family.
Social Media recently blew up with #oldheadshotday which was a fun trip down memory lane as a former actor and friend to actors. Seeing familiar faces that graced the walls of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy where I attended school in New York City.
My first professional headshot was taken when I was 20 years old. It got me thinking about all of the hats I have worn so far in my 30something years - the aspirations I had, the jobs I took, the jobs I never wanted and the surprise twist when I dived into health and wellness.
I also looked at this younger version of myself, and became overwhelmed with sadness.
My last New York City audition ended with, “You need to have to lose 20lbs and get a nose job if you ever want to make it in this business.” What the f**k?
That one sentence coupled with a toxic relationship- where I was constantly reminded that I am not his “ideal”, preferring petite, skinny, fit girls, sent me into a downward spiral of body dysmorphia, disordered and restrictive eating.
Am I biased or does that really look like someone who could shed 20lbs?
Going home was my attempt to remove myself from a culture that promoted bad relationships with my body and ultimately food, but the seed had already been planted. Even though I knew in my heart, that I needed to get out of the New York City acting industry, I spent the next several years battling with my reflection, disordered eating, extreme restricting, having amazing days where I felt on top of the world, and the next feeling fat and disgusting with no rhyme or reason.
I was fat, my nose needed to be fixed and I wasn't going to be an actress unless I took control. It's so disappointing knowing that this was a defining moment in my life.
Having received 51% in highschool gym, I knew nothing about "working out". Since as long as I can remember fitness was associate with sports, and let's face it that 51% is a reflection of how not sporty I was. We were never taught to dance, do yoga, a variety of fitness classes, or taking a walk through the park - which seems mind blowing that I didn't make this conclusion on my own. I turned to the only thing I could do to control my outward appearance - dieting. Fad diets, restricting certain foods which inevitable leads to binging on these foods, and taking portion control to the extreme.
One day, I decided I wanted to play a superhero in a movie, superhero’s are strong so I need to get fit. I had a goal - but I still didn’t know how to exercise. I went out and bought a Fitness Magazine with one of those “7 Exercises to your Best Ass”. I didn’t want to get a gym membership, so made a deal with myself that I could get one if I worked out daily for one year on my own. A year later, I walked into a gym and hired a personal trainer, because I still had no clue what the heck I was dong.
I learned a lot through my personal trainer and needed the guidance of a personal trainer, but I still wasn't keen on going to the gym solo. When I didn't want to go, I would make a deal with myself to go and hop on the treadmill for 10 minutes and if I wanted to leave, than I could. I ended up staying every single time. Dieting was still easier than going to the gym on off days with my Personal Trainer.
It wasn't until I walked into my first Bodyflow class, I instantly fell in love. Now a new seed was planted. I felt empowered, in control, loved the art of movement and wanted to teach this class! Am I crazy? I am not flexible - I can’t am even touch my toes! I barely know how to exercise and those 7 Exercises didn’t even give me my best ass.
Something kept telling me to go for it, so I listened. A year of commitment attending classes 3 times a week. A year seeing the changes in my energy, mobility & strength. A year of growth in becoming confident enough “audition to teach”. Scared shitless when I got accepted to go to training. But I did it, and within three months of mentoring, I started teaching in the exact time slot that changed my views on exercise and movement.
I would like to tell you that this changed my relationship with my body and food. In many ways it did, in others I was in a new industry that emphasized the “ideal” body type.
It was becoming a mom to a boy and 3 girls that really forced me to take a look at my relationship with my body and food. Knowing I never wanted any of my kids, especially my girls to question their reflection, to turn to dieting and restricting foods, and to feel like if they weren't good at sports that there was no option for exercise and fitness. I never want them to so see their mom questioning her body and obsessing over her food choices. I want to show them that exercise can simply be the love of movement. That food should be savoured and exposing them to foods that make them feel good in their bodies.
It wasn’t an easy mindset to shift.
Coming out of my first pregnancy, I was determined to get my #prebabybodyback with #noexcuses. Messages such as “I could have used having a baby as an excuse for keeping the weight on, or not working out. So many women do. It may be harsh, but its true” coming from all directions and were once again causing me to criticize my own shape. The pressure to erase all evidence that I ever had a baby is proof that you know what you are doing as a fitness professional.
Self doubt crept in. “Who wants to workout with a women who can’t get her shit together and ‘look’ the part”.
It wasn’t until after my second pregnancy, that I started honouring my body by listening to what it needs on any given day, wether it’s movement or rest - it wasn’t about my pre- pregnancy jeans anymore. I also listen to what foods feel good in my body, "healthier" options are still best especially since I also developed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) during my dieting days.
There are so many external factors that contribute to the thoughts you have about yourself and how exercise lands in your body at any given time in life - like my inability to lose weight while nursing. I feel a sense of empowerment choosing to value my ability to breastfeed over my desire to lose weight, and part of that comes from knowing this is temporary and knowing that right now my body is sustaining another - how frickin' cool is that? It is my goal is to give confidence to everyone who works with me to confidently use exercise and movement to feel good, to meet their goals, and to find something they love. That's my post-acting passion.
No one knows your story.
You are beautiful. You are strong. You are worthy. But most of all You are you, regardless of what a f**king hashtag says.
If any of this resonated with you in anyway, please reach out to me via email or social media.