Mental Health as a Fitness Professional
This is a hard one for me to write.
I wanted to take this Monday afternoon to discuss something that’s a huge issue for me and for many other people I know that work in the fitness industry: our mental health.
From several different aspects of our regular lives, we are met with expectations as fitness professionals to uphold this image that is incredibly difficult to obtain. You know the image. That Greek statuesque appearance. To look as though you’ve been cut from a marble slab and put on display for everyone to look at and adore.
What often happens is that people often forget that there is a person underneath all of that. There is an actual human inside that statue with feelings and thoughts and struggles, just like everyone else has. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine for us. And for those of us that don’t aspire to fall into that ripped body standard as a trainer, it’s often times even worse.
As many of you know I grew up as a very heavy child well into my senior year of high school. I had always been really heavy and that was all that I knew for the longest time. I won’t go all the way into my fitness journey, I’ll save that for another post, but the short version is that I lost 80 lbs my senior year of high school. But I lost it at a very big cost: my mental health.
Losing the weight so quickly caused me to have issues with seeing it the same way that everyone else did. When I was down 20 lbs, it looked to me as if I had only lost 5. When I lost 60, it looked to me as if I had only lost 15. I couldn’t see myself the way that I should have.
I knew that the number on the scale kept decreasing, but I just wasn’t able to see the results when I looked in the mirror. Frustrated, I foolishly let myself continue to think I needed to lose more and more weight. Thinking I would never get to that “perfect size”. I fell into this terribly unhealthy mindset that pushed me into developing Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia.
At my thinnest weighing 165 Lbs
Letting myself go days and days without eating, and when I finally found the will to eat I would gourge myself and then excuse myself to the restroom to throw it all up because I felt ashamed of myself for “failing” and “letting myself eat”. A vicious cycle that I had fallen into for a couple of very long years.
I fought and fought with myself for those years because there was a big part of me that knew that what I was doing was wrong and harmful. I knew that I had to get better and that I would die if I kept going like this. It took a very long time to break the trend and start eating appropriately. But when I took my life back, I really took it back!
I got myself to a place where I was eating every meal, enjoying working out regularly, and found myself coming back to a safe and healthy mindset. I took it as far on the opposite end to pursue a career in fitness so that I can help others to reach their goals, but do so safely and for the right reasons.
However, I have also gotten to a point where accepting my body for all it is is incredibly important to me and to maintaining my mental health. I know that I am beautiful for who I am and that I don’t have to look like a Grecian statue to be happy.
Admittedly there are times where I slip and start thinking that I need to look a certain way to pursue this career in fitness. Be it because I’m scrolling Instagram and seeing the men there or if I am looking at coworkers from gyms that I have worked at in the past. I just need to take a step back and remember that I may not look the way that some of these people do, but I can run a half-marathon, I can squat more that I ever could, and I can write a hell of a workout to get my clients results.
I am strong, I am capable, I am worthy.