Many many years ago, I would have not pictured myself wanting to become a personal trainer. I had the stereo-typical notion that they were all *muscle heads* that worked in gyms and if you went to one you would become a muscle head too. :) Which is a-ok, if that is what you want...but I am guessing that is NOT what everyone wants. Part of what drew me in was watching what was going on around me in my very limited community of athletes, and my circle of acquaintances. I started thinking about how obsessed people were about diets and Paleo this, and fat-free that, and grain free, and vegan, and raw, and, and, and....and yet people were NOT getting the results they really wanted, nor were they lasting because what they wanted and what was their reality were never going to be friends. I had to learn this lesson. Yet, I was starting to see this swing in a new direction. A direction where people were doing their own thing. Playing by their own rules, in all shapes and sizes and were, gasp, happy with the results. Now, I will tell you a little story about me....
Once upon a time I was anorexic. In high school. I was actually quite overweight, despite running quite often. I was the *fat girl*. I was the *good listener* and the *good friend*...you know how that goes. Well, one summer I decided to become a vegetarian. I was not a big fan of meat, and when I started reading about it I thought hey, that is pretty cool! Told my mother I wanted to do it and she said it was ok as long as I did the research and was eating a healthy diet. I was 15. By becoming vegetarian, it changed the way I ate more than simply cutting out meat. I had a better awareness of what I was putting into my body so instead of mindlessly eating whatever to dull some emotions(which is how I got to be overweight in the first place) I was AWARE of what I ate. And, I also lost weight. A good deal actually. I was running more, losing weight and people noticed. At the time, that was what flipped the switch in me, followed up by various other life issues, and I was hooked. I became obsessed with running and what I ate. I would bet I was not consuming more than 800 calories a day IF that. I wish I could find a picture of myself from that time because it actually makes me uncomfortable to look at. Thing was, I was not 80lbs anorexic, just based on my genetics and bone structure, I was more like 115lb anorexic. Which, many people would say, "5'6" and 115? That's great!" Um, no. It isn't great. The thing was, it was not a NATURAL weight for me. I was STARVING myself to get to that weight. I was running twice a day EVERY SINGLE DAY to stay at that weight. And nobody knew how bad it was. I never told anyone.
Even though there were many layers to that whole time in my life, what I used to tell myself, in my half-starved state is I was doing this because that was *what runners looked like* ... um...ok. Much of my identity for YEARS, and to a certain extent still is, was wrapped up in me being a runner. I ran. A lot. Its what I did, its who I was. Well, by golly, I was going to look the part. And the only role models I had at the time, were the tiny little elite marathon runners featured in Runner's World. Several problems with this...1)I was not an elite marathoner. 2)They were generally around 5'2" and 100lbs soaking wet NATURALLY. 3) Genetics. Yet, I had it in my head I wanted to look the part and if that meant not eating...so be it. Problem with that is if you don't put gas in the car, it ain't gonna run...and my running career came to a screeching(albeit temporary)halt my Sophomore year in college after my SECOND stress fracture. Of course I did NOT put 2 and 2 together so not much changed. Over the years my weight went up and down, I ran more, I ran less but when I was running more, I immediately went to the place of needing to *look the part*. Here's the thing though...I do NOT look like a stereotypical runner. I am not built that way. Its not in my genetics. I come from a sturdy line of Bulldogs, not sleek Greyhounds and no matter what I do, this bulldog will never be a greyhound. :) But, again, as much as I am a reasonably aware and grounded individual, I am not without failings and one of which is I STILL, in the recesses of my mind, think I need to *look the part*. I laugh at the absurdity because REALLY Julie? Have you learned ANYTHING??? Fortunately, I have. But, I am human and certainly not a perfect one at that.
So, here's what I DO know. I know that fitness and health comes in ALL sorts of packages. BMI charts and the like are garbage and NOT an accurate reflection of true wellness, fitness, strength, endurance, etc. I know that personally, I can run farther, and longer now than I EVER could at 115lbs. I know that the better I eat, the better I feel. I know that even though I don't *look* like a runner, I can run up a mountain without stopping. More than once. I can do a 50k with very little notice, bang out a hilly 20 miler and the next day do it again. I also know that strength training will cure almost anything that ails you ;) that all *they* say about the benefits of lifting weights and adding some sort of strength training regimen is true. And I want to share that with everyone. And with that, I started to look around and realized...people are actually starting to *get it*...I noticed that at road races there are every shape and sized runner you can think of. At ultras, which are races LONGER than a marathon again, ALL shapes and sizes. I started looking at other events that you would think would have a very stereotypical body type and... wait for it...ALL shapes and sizes! What do you know!
THIS is why I became a Personal Trainer. Because I wanted to find people where they are right that second and help them find their way from there. I wanted to show people that you don't HAVE to look like anyone other than who you are, and who you become. I wanted to introduce people to the fact that they actually CAN eat the foods they love, because its all about the balance. I want to help people find an activity they love and help them *train* for that activity because if you train for what you enjoy, you will enjoy the training. I want to tach people that strength training isn't *just* for your body, but it changes your mind as well, as when you start to gain strength and feel physically stronger, the mind follows. I want to teach people that the journey is JUST as important as the destination...more important, in fact. Its a marathon, not a sprint, so you might as well enjoy it along the way.