I spent two years working as a personal trainer at a women’s gym and spa in Studio City when I rolled into L.A. four years ago. My hair was long and my eyes were wide and I couldn’t believe I got to ride on an outdoor escalator every morning on my way up to that second floor gym.
An outdoor escalator in Minnesota would rust out and freeze over in a hot second.
I was making a living as a personal trainer in paradise … and I didn’t know it, but I was taking the first steps in a journey that would change the way I thought about weight loss.
First of all, before I go any further, I want to be clear that I don’t think that wanting to lose weight is bad. Sometimes losing weight is a necessary part of living a healthier life, and I’m all for that.
But wanting to lose weight has become so normal, especially for women, and I want to dig deeper into the reality of weight loss.
When I first started out I saw my job as a trainer in a straightforward and general way: I helped women get strong and lose weight. When clients were filling out intake forms, it wasn’t a matter of IF they wanted to lose weight, it was a matter of how many pounds. I spent a lot of time talking about fat loss versus weight loss and how muscle drives fat loss and how eating fat actually helps with fat loss and how high intensity interval training and lifting heavy weights is the best approach for weight loss and blah blah blah weight loss weight loss weight loss.
I expected my clients to want to be smaller, weigh less, and fit into those pants that they couldn’t get zipped. And that’s the story I continued to hear over and over again. And I helped them achieve their goals.
Weight loss used to be something I talked about a lot with my clients. Today, not so much.
I was on a walk last weekend, listening to a podcast, and I heard something that changed everything for me. I thought, “What if I let go completely of my desire to lose weight and was totally content with how my body is right now?” And when I decided I didn’t need to be ten pounds lighter, I immediately FELT ten pounds lighter.
Like I said before, as women, it’s normal to want to lose weight. And while I’ve been mostly happy with my body for the past few years, there’s always been that little voice in my head telling me my stomach should be flatter, my arms should be thinner, my behind should be smoother; something always needed to be a little bit different.
I’ve never fully accepted myself as I am, and that hit me so hard on that walk. Even though I usually feel good in my body and I’m proud of what my body’s capable of, there’s been a consistent gnawing at me; the critical voice in my head that’s never satisfied and tells me I’m not enough.
I chose to be with people (i.e. not-so-nice-boyfriends) who were critical. If I was with people who told me I’d look better with thin arms, or I didn’t look good in that shirt, or my hair should be different, then I was right and my opinion of myself was validated. I picked on myself all the time. I believed I deserved to be picked on. I deserved to be criticized. I chose people who saw me as a project to be worked on because I saw myself as a project to be worked on.
This is so fascinating to me as I investigate my behavior and take a deeper look into decisions I’ve made in the past. My level of self worth and self acceptance has been directly mirrored in the world around me. Thankfully, today, the reflection looks much different.
I’m happy to help my clients lose weight, but here’s the thing. Losing weight doesn’t always fix the problem. Changing something on the outside won’t help the inside feel better. If it’s an inside job, it takes inside work.
Letting go completely of wishing my body looked different is such a miracle. It means that I’m healing. It means that I’m moving into alignment with who I really am. And it brings me peace.
I work with clients now that would have baffled me four years ago. I have clients who aren’t interested in losing weight, and yet we still have work to do; work that I love doing. Some of these clients are women I’ve been working with for years. I helped them reach their body composition goals and a beautiful thing happened. They stayed.
They stayed because they feel the benefits of working out that go beyond changing their physical appearance. In this way, they were my teachers.
So many benefits can get lost when losing weight is driving someone to work out. Like a clear head, for instance.
“This is the only thing that keeps me sane!” said one of my beauties just yesterday.
When you’ve reached your body transformation goals, or kicked body transformation to the curb for the time being or maybe even for good, you open yourself up to so many amazing benefits of a fitness habit.
It’s a new level of living and I think it’s pretty cool here.
Fitness for cool people is what I do. My online coaching program is helping busy people in Nashville, Iowa, and Minneapolis flourish in their fitness and feel awesome in their bodies. Click here to learn more about this unique way of working with me!