When I made the decision to move to Los Angeles and begin a new career as a personal trainer, I believed there were a few requirements to improve my chances of success.
To fit in to this flashy city and to be taken seriously as a trainer, I figured I’d need to lean out, get a boob job, dye my hair a lighter shade of yellow, and shoot some botulism into my face. I was saving money for plastic surgery when I got my first job as a personal trainer in L.A.
Fast forward four years and I’ve had a complete paradigm shift.
As I started to grow my business and work with more people, I started to realize that even people in California liked me for being me! They saw past my laugh lines and my body fat percentage and appreciated my realness. More importantly, I started to believe that the real Becca -aesthetics aside- was the Becca that could make a difference in other people’s lives. Contrary to what I thought, it turned out that “fixing” my outside appearance wasn’t a prerequisite to building a business in the fitness industry.
I started to hear a message from other women I admire in the fitness world telling me it’s ok to take up space … and our bodies are instruments, not ornaments. Slowly these messages took root in my heart and I was able to get free from a lot of old ideas that were hijacking my joy. It took awhile because for many years I was told by men to be smaller. Gymnastics coaches told me to suck in my stomach and stop eating dessert. Guys were more attracted when my arms were skinnier. I once went on a date and thought it went well and when he ghosted I learned from a mutual friend it was because he thought my butt was too big. And the more I tried to shrink physically, the more I shrunk emotionally. So it was a big deal when I first started hearing about taking up space.
I began by trying to focus on what my body was capable of rather than focusing on what it looked like. And old chains began breaking.
This shift has had a profound impact on how I approach my work. Instead of tracking my clients’ bodyweight, I encourage them to throw away their scales. I measure their progress by tracking what their bodies are capable of doing and by how they’re feeling. I’m not opposed to body recomposition goals, if that’s what a client really wants to focus on. It’s not up to me to decide what matters to you.
But as women, we’ve been spending our entire lives trying to slim down, lose weight, and take up less space, and for what? For whom? Why? I think it’s such an important question for us to ask ourselves.
When self-image fears pop up in my head -and they still do, every day- I remind myself that I can either worry about the size of my behind, or I can enjoy this one life I’ve been given.