A real-life friend and I are members of the same community Facebook group, and the other day she posted looking for someone to help her develop and exercise and nutrition plan. I messaged her “you might know absolutely none of this about me…” and proceeded to list my credentials in the health space. I was raised by a former professional triathlete. I’m the granddaughter of a chef. I worked at Whole Foods as a student. I studied under trainers at one of the world’s most elite performance institutes en route to earning a minor in exercise and health science. I have completed certification coursework in personal training, exercise nutrition, and exercise rehabilitation. I’ve worked in collegiate and professional athletics, as well as working with elite young athletic prospects. She had no idea. And I can’t blame her.
I am not currently a practicing personal trainer or nutritionist. I am a very knowledgeable unhealthy and out-of-shape person. I had my son a year ago and have lost absolutely no baby weight beyond the initial stuff that falls off at the very beginning. As a result, I qualify according to the flawed, but in this case accurate metric of Body-Mass-Index (BMI) as being overweight. I usually have a chemical-filled chai latte and nutritionless strawberry-flavored donut for breakfast (I like the cheerful appearance of the artificially-colored icing and sprinkles). I wear yoga pants 90% of the time, not because I practice, but because they’re all that fits me right now. I have weird issues with things like gut health because I’ve taken wretched care of myself, particularly in the entire decade of my 20s when I was in the throws of alternating bouts of binge eating disorder and bulimia that only ended because I wanted to have a healthy baby.
I also did the coursework for bachelors and master’s degrees in psychology, so I know all about the cognitive distortions driving eating disorders, and the cognitive and behavioral interventions that can combat those distortions and motivate healthy lifestyle changes. But let me tell you something. It’s still hard as hell. You can have all the knowledge in the world, and that doesn’t mean you’ll apply it. And if you do, it doesn’t mean you’ll stick with it. Change is hard. Habits are tough to break. Cognitive distortions are persistent little buggers. And donuts are delicious. Anyone who acts like getting their sh*t together is easy, is a liar.
I’m also a perfectionist. When you imagine a perfectionist, you might picture someone who’s entire life looks like a Pinterest board, but my perfectionism manifests in a less positive way. I have an incapacitating fear of failure. This drives me to never try. A driving force behind my incessant search for knowledge is that I feel I can’t even begin to attempt pursuing an area of interest until I’m already a certified expert on it… and a certified expert on all things adjacent to it. If there is disagreement in the literature on a subject, and I can’t determine the absolute best course of action with absolute certainty, I choose no action, in lieu of choosing the wrong one.
This is ridiculous. It has to stop. I have an incredible husband and baby who deserve the best version of me, a version that is energetic, optimistic, and headed toward a long and prosperous life. I’m putting this out there because I need accountability. I don’t need a trainer to tell me what to do – honestly, most trainers I’ve met know less than I do, and often instruct people improperly. However, I do need those around me to encourage me to get over my issues, do it, and stick to it. I’d love having a few friends who join me in making the same commitment to getting over their own issues as well. I can share my knowledge, I hope someone reading can share their energy and optimism. I don’t want to look back at my life and just remember long periods of wishing I were hot and healthy. I want to be dancing with my husband and embarrassing my son ’til I’m 90. Let’s actually do this.