I've always been fit and healthy...
I've been all over the place...
I’ve let myself go and gained over 40 pounds unable to run a single mile.
And I’ve let myself become obsessed to the point of losing over 50 pounds down to 103 at my "skinniest".
Skinny. What a dangerous word.
Neither were healthy.
And my experience is one of the big reasons why I'm a trainer and nutritionist today.
From Invincible To Rapidly Overweight
Two things about my childhood that affected me later.
1. I grew up in the South.
"Healthy food" was fried chicken and fried fish.
Both of my parents worked and my childhood was at the height of convenience foods like Bagel Bites and Oatmeal Cream Pies.
Sugar wasn’t the enemy in the early 90s… fat was. Sugar was always available in our house and I had the freedom to dig in whenever I wanted.
2. I was a skinny kid.
Really skinny. I was tall and thin. My parents tried to make me gain weight with Instant Carnation shakes, Big Macs, anything high in calories.
I could eat anything without remorse.
I was this way all the way through high school.
Starting college things changed a lot.
Lifestyle, hormones, activity levels, depression/anxiety, and poor food choices…
It all changed, like it probably did for you too.
I gained 40 pounds in a single semester.
I ate everything and anything as if I were a kid.
But I was a dork. I studied all the time... i.e. sitting. And the weight poured on.
It didn't hit though until I came home for Spring break and my Dad called me out on having gained so much weight.
That hurt. A tipping point to a not so great place.
I Started D I E T I N G...
I started restricting my food and because I wanted to cut back on calories as much as possible...
...back then I knew NOTHING about exercise...
I became obsessed with the treadmill.
I would run to the gym. Run on the treadmill. Run back to campus. And I would usually do that two times every day.
Treadmills can be great, but you have to realize running does not build muscle mass.
And muscle mass for women is VITAL.
98% of women will not get bulky or large by lifting weights. The ones you do see... I hate saying this... nearly all of them are taking supplements or hormones to help. It's just a fact.
And the women of CrossFit (who I love)... you will of course see the genetic best at the top... that's why they are at the top.
You must incorporate strength training into your fitness routine. This only becomes more important the older you get.
When it came to food. I would strategize with one of my friends ways we could eat less, but still make it look like we were eating.
Most days, I was angry at myself if I ate over 500 calories.
Did the weight come off?
Did I feel confident and happy?
I felt worst. I was always exhausted yet constantly obsessed with burning calories. The more you burn the skinner you'll be right?
Skinny should NEVER be your goal.
During this time, I was the definition of skinny fat. In clothes, I looked slim and trim.
But without clothes, I was mushy. You could grab a big roll from my stomach.
My butt was the definition of flat and covered in cellulite. I had ZERO muscle mass and my body looked horrible because of it.
Enough Was Finally Enough
I opened up to my parents and my doctor. They told me I could try getting better myself or see a specialist.
I decided to try it myself.
I began to learn what it meant to fuel your body with food. I realized that healthy food could be both delicious and energizing.
But it took me years to gain control.
Even today I struggle with the feelings of eating less... and tying how my body looks to the food I eat.
Through all of this, I remained a hardcore treadmill addict.
And my body suffered with a complete lack of muscle mass. To this day, women fail to realize it's muscle mass that provides a curvy, firm body.
When I Met Dan, Everything Changed
He knew the importance of strength training and challenged me to use dumbbells and strength training for 30 days.
I didn't like it, but I accepted. He has a super nagging power... it can be really annoying.
I am sure my workout design was awful back then... but with each workout, I got more confident. And with more confidence, I started to get better results.
My body started to tighten up and show muscle definition.
My Body Transformed!
It's changing big time, but women have been taught wrong when it comes to exercise.
Cardio is not THE way to burn fat.
It's strength and muscle that burn fat. (And of course cardio plays a role too.)
During the early strength training days, I even entered a figure competition. And while that is a story for another blog post...
It was the figure competition experience that inspired me to become a personal trainer for women. I made a tough decision to not go to med school and focus on training women.
I quit my job as a medical assistant, became a NASM personal trainer and started a local boot camp.
A year later, Dan thought it would be fun for us to try a new “up and coming” form of fitness… kettlebells.
Here is a picture of our original kettlebell collection along with clubs. They are pretty cool too!
Few people had heard of them, and when he gave me 3 for my birthday, I was super annoyed. I had zero interest in kettlebells.
But he’s persistent (nagging) so we learned from one of Dan's training mentors... Jason Brown.
Kettlebells became the primary focus of our training and remain at the heart of our coaching.
More or less, this brings us to today.
I've had quite the unusual fitness and nutrition history. But all of the struggles I faced in the past remain a beacon for me:
A beacon to keep pushing and build Fit Women's Weekly.
A beacon to educate and coach as many women as I can.
A beacon to help women realize, no matter how busy you are, you can transform your body and love it.
For women body image... self belief... and judgement will always be a struggle. And that's why a community like Fit Women's Weekly is so powerful.
You are not alone.