body-image

When You Worry That You Aren't Enough...

This is a post I've wanted to write for a long time. I haven't written it, but not because I don't think it's an important conversation. I guess I haven't written it because it's such a loaded topic. It's one that, for other trainers who've spoken about it, has generated some pretty extreme reactions. So, to be completely honest, I personally just haven't felt prepared to tackle it or the potential response to it before now.

The "it" in this conversation is whether or not you can be a great personal trainer if you don't look like a fitness model--if you are, by standard measurements, considered overweight yourself. While I hope that everyone gets something out of this post, I am directing it at those of you who want to be a personal trainer. And it's especially directed at those of you who think you can't be an effective one unless you look a certain way.

I know that this is a real thing that prevents some people from pursuing careers in fitness. It wasn't an issue that came up for me when I was deciding to become a trainer. However, it did manifest itself in a different way later in my career, which I'll get to in a minute. 

I became a personal trainer because so many people were asking me to train them that it seemed like a viable business. I honestly never worried that people wouldn't hire me because of the size of my body, whatever it happened to be at any given time. That's proven to be true over these last fifteen years, by the way. I've been smaller than I am now. I've been bigger than I am now. And it just has not affected my ability to get clients.

Let me back-up for a minute though and tell you my story and then I'll get into my advice for those of you who are thinking about a fitness career.

I was working for a fitness equipment retailer in 2003, and was so bored at work that I spent a lot of time reading the exercise books and fitness magazines that were lying around the store.  I started to talk about what I was learning, and to play around with exercises while I was working in the store. People (customers, people who worked in neighboring stores, friends) then began asking me to train them or give them fitness advice. I was reluctant to do that without having some kind of formal education and certification, so I got certified and started a personal training business. 

Just because I didn't worry about people not hiring me doesn't mean that I was without any insecurities. I didn't attend a single professional development event or conference, in-person, for my first seven years as a trainer. I was worried that the other trainers would judge me. I thought they would think I didn't belong there. 

When I finally did begin attending conferences what I found was that there was a very diverse population of body types, shapes and sizes represented among the trainers at these events. There were people smaller than me, yes. But there were also people my size and larger. And what was also true was that I learned so much from the other trainers I met, that I can't help but think how much more I could have learned if I had gotten out of my own way sooner. I was guilty of assuming that all trainers looked a certain way, and that I was the lone exception. That simply wasn't true.

86_nikki_2016.jpg

Okay, so if you are someone who dreams of a career in fitness and really wants to help others live healthier happier lives, but you're insecure about the size/shape/whatever of your body, here's what I'd say to you. 

Do it anyway. Don't wait until you think you've reached whatever you define as physical perfection. My weight goes up and down, depending upon what else is going on in my life. I had a major trauma a little over a year ago. The stress of that has made exercise and other self-care activities almost impossible sometimes. I'm not working out as regularly or as hard as I have done in the past. But I do what I can do, and I'm honest with clients about my struggles and my successes. That doesn't make me perfect, but it does make me real. And my experience has been that people respond to what's genuine, not what's perfect.

Start to see your struggles, whatever they are, as an asset and not a professional liability. I cannot tell you the number of times clients have told me that they picked me as their trainer because I wrote on my website about struggling with an eating disorder and body image issues. I was less intimidating because they knew that I knew what it was like to struggle. 

My level of knowledge and skill doesn't decrease or increase inversely with my clothing size. And yours won't either. 

I'm going to write more in the coming weeks about the different reasons why body diversity in the personal training community is so beneficial to clients, and I'll address some of the concerns I hear most often from trainers. In the meantime, if you have specific questions about becoming a trainer, please leave them below and I'll do my best to answer. You can also email me directly at nikki@fitnessforlifeco.com if you'd rather your comment remain private.

Get That Bikini Body By Summer

flamingo.jpg

We're fast approaching the season of bathing suits, tank tops, shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops. Of weekends at the beach, days at the pool, barbecues. Of drinks with little umbrellas, of sunglasses and sunscreen. Drink

Oh yeah, and endless articles about how to get that bikini body, or beach body, or summer body, or bathing suit body in time to enjoy your summer. So, I thought I 'd write a post about how I achieve my summer/beach/bathing suit/bikini body. Trust me, no matter where you are in your fitness journey, you can do it too.

The equation for getting your summer/bikini/bathing suit body is really simple. Incredibly simple. Could not be simpler.

Pool

You have a body. It is summer. Therefore you have a summer body.

Alternatively, you have a body. You have a bathing suit. Put the latter on the former and, abracadabra, you have a bathing suit body.

And finally, you have a body. You have a bikini. Put the latter on the former and, ta-da, you have a bikini body.

I know I'm being a bit glib here, but honestly, you deserve to enjoy your summer, swim in a pool or hang out on the beach. Those things are some of the great joys of the summer season. And you don't deserve it based on the size, shape or weight of your body. You deserve it because you're a human being, and you get to enjoy all the amazing things life has to offer.

Your body is the only one you're going to get and you need its participation in order to take advantage of all the great things about summer. So, put on something you're comfortable in, lather on some SPF and get on with it. Have fun, stay cool and make some awesome summer memories!

carson-smith-200675

The Myth of Feelings

myth-of-feelings-title.jpg

As many of you know, we launched a non-exercise class at the studio last month. The goal of the class is to provide people with some tools to boost their self-confidence and love their bodies as they are. (Click here to read more about the class.) I'm taking the class too, because I may end up teaching it in the future, but also because I knew I would get a lot out of it. Today I'm pretty comfortable in my body, but I definitely struggled for years with low self-esteem, a disordered relationship my body and with food and exercise. Those things are still close to the surface, if I'm honest. Closer than I'd like them to be. So, it's been good for me to explore those things and to practice the techniques Nikki is sharing with us.

The thing I've been ruminating on the last couple of weeks, but haven't articulated yet in class, is that for me the change in my relationship with my body involved a complete shift in my thinking. See, I always thought that I would wait until I felt confident before I attempted the things that I really wanted to do, but that were intimidating to me. Or that I would wait until I loved my body (when it was skinny enough, tan enough, well-dressed enough, whatever) before I treated it as though I loved it.

But then I realized that I had it backwards. That by doing those challenging things and either, succeeding or just surviving them, I would build the confidence that would make it easier to do more of them in the future. Through action I would build the feeling.

Similarly when it came to loving my body, it was by treating it in a loving way that I behaved my way into feeling loving about it. Here's what I mean.

Cinnamon Heart

I said kind and encouraging things about my body.

Waffle Heart

I nourished it with good food and movement.

Paper Heart

I wore clothing that fit well and was comfortable (whatever size that was).

Fire Heart

I joined in on exercise classes even when I was the largest student in the class.

Glass Heart

I wore a bathing suit and swam in the summertime because I love being in the water and there's nothing better on a hot day.

Scooter

I prioritized sleep.

Tulip Love

I pampered myself with the things I know make me feel relaxed and happy.

Fell In Love Sign

I went out socially and spent time with friends.

heart

I wore summer clothes in the summer, rather than sweltering in cardigans and long pants because I thought my arms or my legs were too big.

love

If there was something I really wanted to do and the only reason I was going to say no was because of some insecurity about how I looked, then I made myself say yes.

Jumping Woman

Some of you may be worried that if you do some of these things, that people might make mean comments to you about your body. The reality is that there is no way to prevent mean people from saying mean things. Hurt people often turn that hurt outward and try to cause pain to others. That's why you must be vigilant in ensuring that the things you say to yourself about yourself are positive; that you counter every criticism, every nasty discouraging comment (from yourself or someone else) with something good and positive and true.

Let's say I put on that bathing suit and heard someone say, "she has no business wearing a bathing suit when she looks like that." If I couldn't let that comment roll off my back (even though I should because who cares what someone else thinks about my body!), I would write an affirmation for myself that was the opposite of that statement. Something like, "My body is worthy of feeling the joy and freedom that comes from being and moving in the water. It is as healthy and strong as it can be today and it will be even healthier and stronger tomorrow." Then I'd put that affirmation somewhere I would see it every day and I'd make myself say it out loud at least once a day until I believed it at my core.

If I had waited for some feeling of love to wash over me before I did those things, I would have been waiting forever. Because loving my body ultimately had nothing to do with what size, shape or weight I was. Seriously.

There was a time that I thought if I could get down to a particular pant size, then I deserved to be confident, happy, loved, etc. And until then, no dice. But when I would get down to that size, it was never enough. There was no magic transformation in my feelings about my body. I didn't wake up that day as a size 6 and suddenly feel like I had permission to live a full life.

Because here's the problem with feelings: feelings are transitory and unpredictable. Relying on a feeling means waiting on something on whose arrival you cannot count, and on something that can disappear as quickly as it appeared.

But when you focus on the action; there is no waiting. You just do the thing. You have control over how you're going to behave toward your body. Trust that if you behave in a loving way, the feeling will follow.

This isn't to say that I never have a day or a week where I'm critical of my body. I do. But, even on those days, I still do the things I listed above. I still treat it with kindness and with love. And when you do that for long enough, it becomes impossible to hate it.

If you're struggling with negative body image, I want you to try something. I want you to ask yourself this question, "How would I treat my body if I loved it?" Maybe some of your answers will be similar to the ones I listed for you above. Maybe not. If you're struggling, think about how you treat someone you love--your best friend, your partner, your mother, siblings--and extend those same acts of kindness and grace to yourself.

Practice, practice, practice it. Keep doing loving things for yourself. Treat yourself the way you plan to treat yourself when your body is the size, shape, weight you've decided is acceptable. Do that now. Because your body is acceptable and worthy of love and kindness just as it is today.

None of this means that you can't strive to be healthier or to improve on the quality of the food you eat or the exercise you get. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be the strongest, healthiest version of yourself that you can be. I want that for myself and I want it for you too.

But you can and should love yourself at every step of your journey; from where you are now through all the variations you'll experience during your long life.

Movie Night!

popcorn.jpg

Next Friday, June 2nd, is movie night at the studio and you're invited! We'll be screening an amazing documentary, Embrace: One Woman's Journey to Embrace EveryBODY. Check out the trailer here. And check out the website for the film here.

This is a free event and for women only (as usual).  We'll watch the movie and then anyone who wishes can stick around and we'll chat about what we just saw, what it brought up for us, insights we gleaned from it, etc.

We're going to have delicious snacks catered by Happy Belly, a restaurant and juice bar just up the road from us a few blocks. You can check out their menu here.

The event will run from 6pm-8pm at our studio in downtown Tacoma. You can visit our website for more information on how to find us.

While the event is free, we do request that you RSVP if you're planning on coming so that we have enough seating and food for everyone. You may RSVP through our website or by completing the form below. (Just type "RSVP for movie night" in the Comment field. Please RSVP no later than noon on Wednesday, May 31st.

Thanks!

[contact-form][contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="1" /][contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="1" /][contact-field label="Comment" type="textarea" required="1" /][/contact-form]

Stretch & Unwind Class

facebook-event-green-and-blue.png

Well, it's the month for new classes at the studio! In addition to our positive body image class, Boost Your Body Image: Confidence at Any Size, we are also launching a stretching and relaxation class called, Stretch & Unwind. Stretch & Unwind will be 45 minutes of gentle stretching, relaxation and breathing exercises. In addition to relieving stress and decreasing tension, the class will enhance body awareness and flexibility.

It will be a great way to unwind at the end of the day, and to improve the connection between your mind and your body. Modifications will be demonstrated, so Stretch & Unwind is appropriate for all fitness levels.

Stretch & Unwind happens on Wednesday evenings, from 8-8:45pm at our studio in Tacoma. The cost for the class is $60 for a monthly pass, or you may drop-in for $20 per class (payable by cash or check when you arrive).

You'll want to wear comfortable clothing, that's easy to move around in. If you have an exercise mat that you use at home and like, plan on bringing that too. But if you don't have a mat at home, no problem! Let us know ahead of time and we'll make sure we have enough mats for everyone. You can find our contact information here.

You can click here to register.

Hope to see you there!

PS: If you sign(ed) up for the Boost Your Body Image: Confidence at Any Size class, we'll give you 50% off of the first month of Stretch & Unwind (at the monthly pass rate). Contact us to get your discount code.

Favorite Things: April

favorite-things.jpg

New month, new list of favorite things from the Lean Body Lifestyles team! As always, none of the people or products below compensated us for singing their praises. Strictly things we've found that we love. A hot bath could have similar benefits to exercise. Not a reason to scrap working out, but good to know.

The Motiv Ring Activity, Heart Rate + Sleep Tracker. It's a FitBit in ring form!

These gingerbread muffins. I swapped out the coconut oil for canola, replaced the yogurt with pureed pumpkin and used nutmeg instead of cloves. I skipped the sugar on the top.

I held off on including this one until I'd been using it for a while and could attest to its effectiveness. I've tried every brand of "natural," aluminum and paraben-free deodorant but have never found one that actually worked for longer than a couple of days. Native deodorant is amazing. It smells great and I rarely have to re-apply. It's way better than the drugstore brands I've used. And their customer service is great.

Roasted brussels sprout chips. Roasting vegetables totally changes the flavor and makes them delicious. These are no exception. I break apart the sprouts into individual leaves; wash and dry them; toss them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper; then bake them at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes.

This list of 11 health-related documentaries on Netflix. I've seen numbers 1-6, and those were definitely worth watching. Can't speak to the others...

For any of you looking for some at-home strength training dvd ideas, this one, by Jessica Smith, was recommended to my mom by a nutritionist and is my current favorite. Good information, scale-able exercises and quite effective for building strength. At one point, Jessica's co-star (and mother) makes a comment about a particular exercise making her waist look smaller, and Jessica is quick to jump in and say that it's really about feeling strong in your body and getting and staying healthy. That focus on health and strength over getting skinny is often lacking in workout dvds, unfortunately.

I found the Minimalist Baker blog through Pinterest (I think...) Anyway, everything I've made has been easy and really tasty. The recipe's all have 10 ingredients or less and can be ready in under 30 minutes. This is definitely not the case with all food blogs! Oh yeah, and the recipes are plant-based and gluten free. But even if you aren't vegetarian/vegan/gluten-intolerant, you'll get great ideas for healthy recipes you can add to your repertoire.

Avocado toast. I probably have some form of it for lunch several times per week. My current favorite is super simple. Sourdough toast, mashed avocado on top, sprinkled with some sea salt and red pepper flakes. Yesterday I piled on some bruschetta we had leftover from a party. So good.

You know how I love Ulta, right? Well, my one complaint lately is that they stopped stocking Philosophy's lip shine product. It's the only thing that keeps my lips from drying out and cracking at night. It's a little too sticky for daytime use (at least it is for me), but I need it at night. So, I'm getting it from Amazon lately, but you can also get it straight from Philosophy's website. My favorite flavors are: Fresh Cream, Coconut Frosting and Vanilla Birthday Cake. Would you ever guess that I have a sweet tooth? Didn't think so :-)

Okay, that wraps up April's favorite things! See you here again in a couple of days.

Body Image Class is Open for Registration!

planner-picture.jpg

Hello all! At long last we are accepting registrations for our first positive body image class and we are thrilled! Click here to register.

You may remember my interview with Nikki from earlier this year where she talked about why this class is so important to her. If you missed it click here to read it.

The class is called, Boost Your Body Image: Confidence at Any Size. Nikki is leading this 6-week course, held at our studio in Tacoma. The class will meet on Wednesday evenings, from 7:15pm-8pm, and will run from April 26th through May 31st.

During the course of the six-weeks of class, Nikki will walk you through proven strategies for re-booting and repairing your relationship with your body and cultivating a soul-deep appreciation for it.

It is possible to love your body, independent of how much you weigh, or what number appears on the labels of your clothing. You can look at your body, with all its curves, and its sharp angles, and its dimples, and its bits that jiggle, and appreciate it rather than catalog its imperfections. And you can have a relationship with food and movement that isn't about punishing your body for being too big, or too small.

Nikki's done it and she can show you how.

The cost for the class is $295. We expect the course to fill up quickly, and are limiting it to 10 students. So, you'll want to sign-up soon, if you think this class is for you.

Registration includes all six course sessions, a binder with printouts of all class materials and worksheets, and access to a private Facebook group for support and the exchange of ideas.

It's going to be challenging, and fun, and intense. So, come prepared to work hard and experience an amazing transformation in your relationship with your body.

Sign-up here!