There’s a woman sitting near you in a restaurant, on a train, in a school meeting, at your kids’ sport, on a nearby desk at work, or walking past you in the street, feeling lousy about herself.
The crew and I were in countdown mode all weekend. This little family of four has been one man down for 2 weeks and we couldn’t wait to welcome hub-dad back into the country. There have been times over this last fortnight when dinners have been a gourmet collection of weetbix, raisin toast and rice crackers. There have been times over this last fortnight when socks have had to be pulled out of the dirty washing pile and squished bits of cupcake have had to be picked off them before being worn to school. There have been times over this past fortnight when a wee-puddle, left by the side of the toilet bowl from a half asleep son has had to wait 7 hours before being mopped up. There have been times over the last fortnight when we have screamed [me], sworn [me] and cried [also me].
Solo-parenting, is parenting, amplified.
I am not unique in the going-solo sense. Mothers are doing this ALL. THE. TIME. At any given moment I could list half a dozen women that I know, who are juggling the demands of a young family while their husbands are away for work. And that doesn’t even count the single mothers, who just roll with these punches day in and day out (and probably, rightfully so, rolled their eyes and tuned out of my pity post by the second paragraph).
The biggest challenge of parenting, and more so solo-parenting, is the seemingly impossible art of living in the present. This allusive skill teaches us to appreciate what is in front of us, let go of the past and allow the future to fall into place. That’s all well and good and daisy-chains, until my son needs to get to soccer practice and my daughter needs to be at basketball, at opposite ends of the town, at the same time. Living in the present is all beer and skittles until the dog needs a walk, the kids need dinner, the washing needs to be pulled in and I have three hours’ worth of work to get through before the inevitable tiredness of the day threatens to sink its teeth into all of our emotional states.
The thing is, living in the present is a beautiful notion and an undisputable benefit to wellbeing, until life happens. It seems almost inconceivable to stop and smell the roses when you can’t stop watching the clock, checking the diary and trying desperately to somehow get ahead of the conveyor belt of the family schedule.
But if there is anything that I have learnt about myself over the last 14 days, it’s that regardless of how hard it seems, I need to find the pause button for this conveyor belt; I need to schedule in regular maintenance – whether I’m solo parenting or not.
There’s a Zen proverb that says “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” If I hadn’t been so preoccupied with the impending to-do list after my husband’s departure, I would have written these words on a post-it-note in every room of the house.
At some stage in every fast-paced block of 24 hours, I need to find at least twenty minutes of nothingness; of calm, present, non-judemental thoughts only. Because there have been times in the last fortnight that I have felt the harsh brunt of living in every moment except the current one. I felt anxious. I felt stressed. I felt irritable. I felt erratic. I felt don’t-even-look-at-me emotional. I felt angry. I felt guilty. I felt completely overwhelmed, exhausted and broken. All signs, I imagine, of present-living deficit.
With hub-dad almost touching down back on Aussie soil (ed note, I just got a text. HE HAS LANDED! WOOT!), I am looking back over these last two weeks and questioning how I behaved as a parent, how I managed my emotions and dealt with the stress and I am wondering “why was that so damn hard?” It comes back to my complete lack of presence; my inability to clear my mind of who needs to be where and what needs to be done, for just 20 minutes of each day.
Having never been great at meditation, I’m pleased to read recent insights about the practice being less sitting on a cushion repeating “om” and more just slowing down and basking your senses in your current surroundings. Meditation can be done walking or running or even, for the win, while watching a live show. Anything that allows you to shut your diary, switch off your phone, close off your mind to the things that “need” to be done and just “be” present, is going to pay back with interest – emotionally, mentally and physically.
So solo-mums, single-mums, mums with loads of support, mums with no-support, mums in general, parents in general, it is hard, so damn hard to stop thinking about what everyone is doing, where everyone needs to be, what everyone needs to eat, who needs to have what packed and what needs to be done next. But from someone who’s tiptoed on the knifes edge of spending too much time in the next moment, find the time to stop; to look, to listen, to breath. Forget the to-dos, forget the not dones and just switch off. 20 minutes in 24 hours.
Then mop up the wee.
I have embraced. Locally, I promoted and hosted Taryn Brumfitt’s documentary last year. I wholeheartedly support the #bodyimagemovement. On the socials I like, comment, support, applaud, share and encourage women of all sorts that are joining the body positive chanting. This embrace-thy-body mindset is undoubtedly overdue. Women (in particular) are constantly hammering their confidence into the ground one blow at a time; often to a point where their self-hate can make leaving the house feel like a confronting task.
It absolutely should not be like that.
But despite all of the roar-roar-roaring and hashtagging in the right direction, I, ah, um, well…
I feel fat.
I feel fat and I am on a mission (a gentle mission) to lose some weight.
Is that me un-embracing? Have I just said a dirty word? Will I be cast out from this beautiful, jelly-belly loving tribe?
This is the first time that I’ve felt not-so-happy with my bod since the #bodyimagemovement turned from a ripple in the ocean to a brilliant tsunami. Prior to that, it was pretty much a daily (wait, maybe hourly?) occurrence. The difference now, is that me and my extra k.gees are totes calm about it all. I can look back over the year and see that some injuries sidelined me from a lot of my favourite physical activities. I can see that along with embracing my child-beared body, I also embraced a fair few “clean” and not so clean treats. (My husband and I found a local supermarket that stocks Cadbury pineapple chocolate ALL. THE. TIME. Friday night ritual: on point).
Me feeling fat right now, isn’t body shaming myself. I feel fat, because I am carrying more fat than I have in a long time. There are a lot of lovely, logical events that landed me with this extra layer, but I’ve reached a point where it’s just not comfortable for me. It’s kind of like buying a beautiful pair of shoes and finding out that, despite dogmatic persistence, they rub your heels raw. I don’t hate my current body, I just can’t wear it for long.
For the first time since Mark Zuckerberg became an answer to a trivial pursuit question (un-researched, but confident that it’s fact), my fat-feels are not because of women I see on Instagram flashing their impossible abs at me (which for the record, I have a well-programmed reflex to do the insta-equivalent of swiping left on, because of the super power they have of sending me down a hate-myself-hell-hole).
In fact, probably not since I put a Dolly (R.I.P) issue Alison Brahe poster on my bedroom wall and longed to be just like her (blond, tiny framed and dating Cameron Daddo…I achieved none of the three) has my desire to lose a bit of weight been so intrinsic.
This overweightness that I feel right now isn’t because someone or something made me feel this way. My motivation is not because of @sixpacksusie (not a real account. Yet.) or the adorable Alison Brahe (I bet she is still adorable) (wait, I just googled her. She is). It’s all me. I’ve embraced myself at this size and all the glorious pineapple chocolate that it took to get here. But it doesn’t feel quite right and I’ll just change a little bit here and a little bit there, until I feel comfortable again. Whatever that may be.
With a healthy, level-headed, gentle approach, I’ve come to the conclusion that “fat” isn’t a dirty word. You can embrace yourself and change yourself at the same time. I still have my arms lovingly wrapped around my additional lumpy bits, and I’m hopeful that even as I try to lose a little weight, I won’t be voted off the body lovin’ island.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll scoff at the idea of making a New Year’s resolution. A lifetime of experience tells you that they never stick and they only come back to haunt you when Christmas rolls around again. And experts tend to agree. According to many, New Year’s Resolutions are so last decade. Apparently it is the worst time to declare lifestyle changes and there’s a very slim chance that you’ll be high fiving yourself come December 31st. The New Year is amidst celebrations, frivolity and for us here in Australia, weather that calls for beach side holidays, alcoholic drinks, BBQ gatherings and icecream. It’s hardly a breeding ground for spectacular transformations.
But despite all of this, as I flip the crisp new page of the carefully chosen calendar, I find it hard not to reflect on the past 12 months and contemplate what might be possible in the year to come. Is it ingrained in us, or is there something in the cosmos that makes us want to seek out personal improvements when a new year clicks over?
What’s possibly the limiting factor in New Year’s Resolutions is they are generally a statement of declaration: “I’m going to lose weight!” “I’m going to be more organised!” “I am going to give up alcohol!” “I am going to start running!” There’s plenty of enthusiasm, but very little planning bolstering up our resolutions.
Despite a worthy protest, if you feel the gravitational pull towards implementing some new year changes, there are some things you can do to make your success a little more likely.
1. BE SMART ABOUT IT. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a time frame. Replace “I am going to lose weight” with “I am going to lose 5kg by September.” Replace “I am going to start running” to “I am going to run in a 10km event in August”. You can even make us your own system of scale, for example “At the moment, on a scale of 1-10 on how healthy I feel, I am a 5. By the end of June this year, I am going to be at 8.”
2. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS FROM WHAT YOU WANT, TO WHAT YOU NEED TO BE DOING. Once you have your SMART goal, it’s time to carefully consider what actions you will need to be doing consistently to achieve that goal. The person that says “I am going to run a half marathon in June” may need to invest in some new runners, start going to bed earlier to make early morning training possible and set aside some time to run 3-4 times a week. Change is the result of a series of new behaviours done consistently, so make your behaviour the focus, rather than the overall goal.
3. GO AS BIG OR AS SMALL AS YOU CAN MANAGE. It’s an old cliché, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take one step at a time and appreciate that each of those steps are entirely customised to you; what fits your lifestyle and what you can physically, mentally and emotionally manage. If your SMART goal is to lose weight, and the changes you need to be doing consistently involve reducing portion sizes, it might start with simply reducing the size of one meal, one day a week. Once you feel that you are doing that fairly effortlessly you might move to two meals, two days of the week. Don’t let this step be dictated by impatience or pressure. It’s vital to long term success that each step is integrated gradually and easily into your lifestyle. The downfall of most New Year’s Resolutions is that people go too hard too soon!
4. OBSERVE, DON'T JUDGE. As Thomas Edison said “I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If one week doesn’t go to plan – you miss a run, you overeat, you relax on a Monday night with a scotch, just make an observation about what lead you to that point. Rather than throw your hands up in the air (like you just don’t care) and rubber stamp it failure all over it, simply think about how you can adjust your ultimate goal, your behaviours or your environment to make it work. Like Thomas Edison, it could take thousands of attempts and you’ll learn a little bit about yourself each time.
5. KEEP YOUR RESOLUTIONS ROLLING WITH THE PUNCHES. Life happens. We get busy. We get thrown curve balls. We lose our way. Our priorities change. Revisiting your goal and being willing to adjust it (and the required behaviours) if it no longer fits within the realms of realistic or achievable, is totally ok. It’s far better to keep moulding it around life, than sidelining it altogether.
Whether it is habit or something in the universe that pulls us towards change around January – make your resolutions SMART, support them with small changes in your behaviour and when things don't go to plan, adjust the plan; and I expect there will be high fives rather than haunts by the time December arrives again.
Continued on from previous post Hi 3309, it’s me again.
Last week, possibly painfully, I explained what life could have been like, had you made it to the Melbourne Marathon. I detailed the atmosphere that you would have experienced, the emotions that you would have witnessed.
But I wasn’t entirely honest. You didn’t get the full story.
You see, 3309 I’ve never been particularly sentimental about my bib-numbers. They have normally suffered a long day; safety pins and tired movements have gradually torn their corners, Gatorade guzzled desperately at the final drink station has made them sticky, and sadly, you would have been superseded by a medal that endured nothing more than a production line and the helpful hand of a finishing chute volunteer.
The truth is 3309, if it was indeed your destiny to travel the 42.2 kilometres of the Melbourne Marathon, I am afraid it was also your destiny to end up in the hotel room bin.
Instead of experiencing the Melbourne marathon, your Sunday 16th October was spent as just another average Sunday with me. We went for a short run, along one of my favourite courses with one of my favourite friends. We enjoyed an overdue brunch (the smashed avocado and poached eggs were delicious) with some old school mates. We whipped up some wholesome feel-good foods for a beloved pal who had had an emotional couple of days. We lovingly prepared and proved pizza dough ready to feed the family their favourite weekend meal. We did a spot of home maintenance and we got the groceries in for the week ahead. We finally gave in to my 9 year old son and agreed to play, albeit poorly, a new Xbox game with him.
Just another Sunday in the life of me.
I’ve often questioned why I run the marathon. Why I can’t just tick it off the bucket list and move on. I usually arrive at the answer that it somehow validates me. It justifies me. It makes me feel like I am doing enough. That I am enough.
Completing the 2016 Melbourne marathon with you would have, of course, given me a great sense of achievement. But strangely 3309, this year it almost feels like a bigger achievement to have not run the marathon; to have had the sense of self, the belief that I would be quite okay to not do it. To recognise that my life is full, that there are other experiences to enjoy and other elements that make me the person I am; to appreciate the other laurels I have to rest on.
I may run the marathon again. I may not. Whatever the case may be, I feel that I no longer need to cling to it.
So strangely, 3309 you are pretty significant. You represent a certain maturity, an inner strength. You represent a new found comfort in being, rather than doing. You tell me that with or without the marathon – I am enough.
It’s ironic 3309 that you might just be the one bib-number that I do keep.
Dear marathon number. Melbourne Marathon Number 3309. I had high hopes for us. With complete confidence I applied for you as soon as the virtual ticket booth opened. I worked hard. I was running at extremely early times on extremely cold mornings. I had a training plan that I was sticking to. I was exceeding my targets and was on track to give you a wee-bit-of-a-faster-run than what my preceding marathons numbers have experienced.
But things changed. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I had to make the call. I had to ask them not to send you. I had to tell them you wouldn’t be needed. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. It broke my heart.
I had hoped that you’d be allocated to deserving runner. A runner ready to take you to that start line, where the oxymoronic mix of nerves and excitement is so thick in the air, it’s like a psychedelic rainbow snaking its way through the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of runners. Where the music is playing, people are stretching, hugging their loved ones, taking selfies, doing warm up runs; many are on their third trip to the porta-loos.
I wanted you to go to someone who would allow you, number 3309, to soak up the atmosphere that is the Melbourne marathon. A runner that would proudly pin you to his or her most chafe-friendly running top and take you on the 42.2 kilometre journey. Firstly, hopping up and around other runners, comrades, not quite keeping the same step as you; to the point where the cluster starts to stretch out a little and you find your stride. I wanted you to go through the drink stations and hear the unique tinging and tapping of the plastic cups hitting the ground; to the seemingly long and lonely stretches of Beaconsfield and Marine Parade, where the energy and excitement seems to dull, feet seem to be hit the ground a little harder and the faces of other runners show the mind’s wrestle between determination and regret (and in most cases, determination has the upper hand).
I wanted you to see the people lining St Kilda road, the children selflessly handing out lollies to weary competitors rather than scoffing them all themselves, the signs people hold up to push you just a little more, the random people clapping and telling you what a good job you’ve done. On the chest of your runner, curving around past Federation Square, I wanted you to feel the lift, the slight straightening out, as pride and self-belief resurrects: so close now, so close now.
And then, number 3309, the MCG appears and the step of your runner, somehow, just gets a little faster and the noise just gets a little louder. Already-finished competitors are making their way back to their cars, to cafes, to pubs with their in-awe family quizzing them about their accomplishment. Their finishers medal proudly beating against their number as they walk, or hobble, along.
3309, if things had have gone to plan you would have made it into the MCG with me, possibly a little weather beaten, a pin or two missing, creases indicating my fatigued posture. You would have been photographed with me, arms raised as high as I could manage crossing the finishing line. You might have even caught a tear or two, as for whatever reason I cry every single time.
But it didn’t end up like that. For some administrative reason, you weren’t assigned to another eager participant. You ended up in the letterbox of this tired runner who had decided this was not the year to do the Melbourn marathon.
But has it been so bad?
To be continued…
Last week I blogged about the challenges I faced finding the time and energy for fitness when my children were just wee-little-cherubs (you can read it here). Now they are medium sized cherubs, it is a lot easier, so I like to combine hanging out with my family and some physical activity whenever I can. I now have a bit more time, a bit more mental stability and a fair bit more energy, but even so exercise+family can still = challenges…
My children both celebrated their birthdays in the last month. They were lucky enough to be given swanky brand new mountain bikes. Being family-bike-riding enthusiasts, hub and I were both pretty happy to see Sunday bearing a sunshine icon on the weather maps, and we excitedly pencilled in some quality pedal pushing fam-time.
With hub being away a fair bit of late and kid’s sports usually chewing through our Saturdays and Sundays, this bike ride became one of my non-negotiables for the long weekend. So at 2:45pm on Sunday we set out gleefully for the nearby rail trail. I made sure hub had his phone with him because I had banned myself from my own phone for the event (so that I could truly enjoy every magical family moment without being distracted by intriguing message and gaming notifications) but I still wanted access to a camera so that I could go to Instagram-town with this picture-perfect family outing.
We set off with Master 9 and Miss 7 cheerfully wagging their cute little butts in front of us as they called “we’re gonna beat you!” and hub and I sharing a knowing little smile to each other, celebrating the amazing gifts we have given the world. I am pretty certain bluebirds fluttered around our helmet clad heads and the admiring community hummed “Let’s go ride a bike” (to the tune of “let’s go fly a kite” if you missed that clever transposition) in our wake.
The bluebirds continued to flutter; the community continued to hum.
We eventually came to a junction where we had the choice to continue on to a nearby township, complete with skate park, or turn around and head home.
Hub had a goal in mind and wanted to make it to the town. He was using the skate park as his best and only bargaining chip.
Miss 7 ummed and arred, but eventually agreed the skate park sounded like fun.
Master 9 was done and wanted to go home.
I didn’t mind either way. But was happy to split and accompany my son home.
But Miss 7 using tears, crossed arms and stomped feet, argued against a split and wanted the WHOLE family to stay together.
Now I don’t really know what other kids are like, but my two have stubbornness in spades. I knew that if hub or I made a call, we’d be leaving one child by the side of a busy, fast paced road, in tears with foot firmly on the ground and chained to their opinion like a hippie to a tree.
You know that crass but common Aussie saying – “he had me by the balls”? I know anatomically it’s not possible for me to be in that unfortunate situation, but figuratively speaking that’s basically where they had me. It’s not the first time and sadly, I’m confident it won’t be the last.
With thanks to experience, I handed the reins straight over to my youngsters. I encouraged them to think about the other point of view, to consider being a little more flexible and to weigh up the pros and the cons of what they wanted to do. It took about 8 minutes (and about four hundred and fifty deep breaths on my behalf) and we had a change of mind.
In fact we had two changes of mind.
Master 9 no longer wanted to go home. HE now wanted to go onward to the skate park.
Miss 7 had lost interest in the skate park idea and now SHE wanted to go home.
No more bluebirds. No more cheerful Mary Poppins tunes. Just me muttering profanities under my breath about how effed up motherhood really can be.
Hub, still erring toward the skate park, now realised his opinion was no longer being accepted as a valid bid. I had to move away from my bike before I threw it.
Again, I told my kids I had no way of winning here and they had to sort it out: “Tell me when you’re done”.
Between them there were dropped lips, tears, bribes, manipulation, promises they couldn’t keep – it was like watching the lead up to the election.
Another 8 minutes. Another 450 deep breaths.
Three rounds of dip dip dip. Three arguments over which hand meant which direction. Three times I considered riding off on my own. Towards Queensland.
Eventually, Master 9 conceded. Miss 7 won. Homeward bound, we rode, as a friggen family. A picture-perfect-instagram-worthy-friggen-family.
Stomping on my pedals, shaking off the frustration, I had to breathe in the fresh air, admire the setting sun, take note of the toadstools, the warped trees and the rabbit holes to remind myself this was still a great idea and a great outing.
One day hub and I will get the opportunity to ride as far as we’d like to ride without stopping for negotiations of epic proportions. One day we’ll cross that junction without having to even discuss going further or not. One day we won’t need the skate park as a bargaining chip.
But on that day our kids won’t want to be around us in our daggy helmets. They won’t let me photograph them, knowing I’m intending to use it as bragging evidence on social media. They won’t wiggle their little butts in front of us as they race up the nearest hill. They won’t be in awe at toadstools or decrepit trees, or ponds (/oversized puddles) and I’ll wish I could have it one more time.
Bluebirds might not flutter around us all the time. The community might not always turn into a chorus line. But while I can, I will still apprehensively excitedly pencil in some quality pedal pushing fam-time whenever I can.
Christmas is one little week away and I find myself in a flurry of competing emotions at this time of year. I loathe greed and excessiveness, but yet I want my kids to have everything that’s on their Santa list and damn, that dress is pretty… I want it. I’m getting it. And some new sandals to match too, thanks.
I love the school holidays. Not having to make lunches, brush hair, sign homework diaries and rush out the door. Until the kids start fighting at 8:41am, then I hate school holidays. The kind of hate where I want to pick my fingernails off one by one.
I love Christmas parties. I love being social, having some drinks and maybe some more after that. But I hate hangovers. I hate them. Almost as much as I hate school holidays at 8:41am.
The abundance of food at this time of year makes me uncomfortable. I admit to having a pretty dicey relationship with food and the silly season sends me into high alert. But I love preparing Christmas treats and I just ate chocolate melts for lunch. But I hate myself for it.
Yes. It is exhausting.
I enjoy integrating health into what is renowned for being a season of overindulgence. I love being creative and making tradition-breaking goodies. But I also hate being “that” person; the one who brings the cacao and spouted buckwheat “mint slice” to the table and wants to start Christmas morning with a run.
I look forward to spending time with my family; my nieces and nephews, seeing the kids playing with their cousins, drinking wine and laughing with my sister and our parents. But of course, put three family units in a house together for a few days and there’s bound to be some tension crop up at some point. I don’t cope with tension very well. And all I’ll have to calm my nerves is a gingerbread house made from quinoa. Damn it.
But Christmas will come and I think if I can stop trying to please all of my demons at once, I might be able to enjoy it, even with the undercurrent of moral, emotional and ethical see-saws rocking inside me. To get through Christmas, I almost need to balance those see-saws a little bit, or enjoy the thrill of them crashing to the ground occasionally.
We’re lucky. The kids get a lot, I get a lot and there are many that are not as fortunate. I’ll focus on being grateful. I’ll give food, clothes and toys to the needy in an attempt to somehow make a small ripple in a big ocean (and in selfish honesty, to help alleviate some of my own guilt).
The school holidays, will, at times be shit. The kids will fight. I’ll yell profanities. But it doesn’t mean they are destined to be lifelong enemies and it doesn’t mean I have failed as a mother. There will be laughter and cuddles too. And I just have to hope like hell that it’s those moments they remember.
I’ll enjoy the few Christmas parties I go to (one actually, I go to one). And I’ll probably enjoy it enough to not need another party for 12 months.
Food is good. Yes, we live in a society where there is a ridiculous and unnecessary amount of it. Chocolate melts for lunch probably aren’t ideal, but I know enough to understand that that won’t be regular faire every day of the coming year.
My family will individually or collectively, annoy the beejeepers out of me at some point over the Christmas break. And there’s a good chance I’ll be driving them crazy at some point too. Thank goodness for cacao and buckwheat slice, with a side of Bailey's. And laughter. And Christmas morning jogs. And chocolate melts at lunch time, sisterly chats and card games. And little cousins causing mischief together. Thank goodness for what I have.
Christmas. I got this.
In my little bubble of a world, people do crazy things – they get up at what often seems like the middle of the night to take on massive physical tasks before most people have even kicked off the doona. In my world, doing more than 1 hour of exercise a day isn’t extreme or obsessive it is quite literally, all in a day’s work.
I was jogging this morning with one of my regular running groups, when I found myself engaged in a brief conversation with another regular attendee. He informed another person plodding along with us, that I was a personal trainer and then honestly, but ever so tactlessly, followed it up with “I thought all personal trainers were meant to be trim.” I’m not going to lie, these thoughts that most people probably keep to themselves, already exist within me. They sit at my core permanently like an ugly Cane Toad, ready to squirt poison through me when disturbed. It could be a comment like this, something I’ve read or something my own mind has misconstrued, but however the attack happens, the poison runs through my veins, draining my energy; valleys its way through my brain, blackening my usual positive thoughts; burns through my heart turning any love for myself into hate; and basically, threatens to destroy me.
It’s cruel isn’t it? That I have chosen (and love) a career path that can apparently be judged by my appearance.
Have you ever looked at a real estate agent and thought – “I thought real estate agents were meant to be young”? Have you ever been to the dentist and felt that the he or she was too tall to be a dentist? Has someone ever whipped you up a latte and as they’ve handed it over, you’ve passed comment that they don’t look like a barista?
It’s bullshit isn’t it?
I can run. I can do a fair share of push ups. I can do burpees and lift weights. I can box, I can swim, and I can ride a bike. Ask me to go for a 20km walk on the weekend and I’d have no reservations about my physical ability to do it.
I know how to prescribe exercises. I know how to adapt exercises to suit people’s abilities or fitness levels. I know when to push people beyond what they think they can do and I know when to back off. I can help people work out using a gym full of complicated looking equipment or I can show them how to sweat, tone or strengthen without any equipment at all. I can instruct movement that lifts people’s heart rate up or strengthens their muscles, in water or on land. I can coordinate a big group of people in an exercise session and I can work with people individually on very personal journey through their wellbeing.
I don’t spend every spare minute of my day working out. What I do in my spare time is keep up to date with current trends in the industry, researching exercises and testing them out to see if they are safe, suitable and effective. I keep in touch with my clients to see how they are feeling, what else they are doing exercise wise and what is best going to work for them in their upcoming session. I promote my business, because my passion is to getting people moving and if I can be that lifeline to someone then I’m over the moon. I provide knowledge and support to people to help them be more active than they would be otherwise.
Isn’t that what a personal trainer is meant to be?
My less-than-trim body type actually enables me to be an understanding, patient and creative personal trainer. Whilst I have always been active, I get that it is hard. I have understanding for people who don’t like doing exercise. I get it. This understanding comes into play when I work with people to set goals. They are realistic. They aren’t based on what I do in a week. They are what is manageable for that person. None of my clients are going to get prescribed a 6km run if they are struggling to get out and walk a couple of times a week.
I get that carrying extra weight makes some moves a little awkward. Yeh – the yoga instructor doing a downward dog might resemble a svelte greyhound, but with my lumps and bumbs falling the way gravity has intended, I am less greyhound and lot more bloodhound. So with me – I’m not going to wangle you into a position that makes you feel bluh. Because no one needs to leave an exercise session feeling bluh.
Burpees are an awesome cardio, strength and agility exercise but I know that certain tops tend to slip up and certain pants tend to slip down. And the result is an awkward one hand burpee while trying to pin those babies back together and praying to God that the set finishes before everyone else sees what I spend most of my time trying to hide. I provide props to make shit like that easier. To make it less uncomfortable. To make my clients feel more focussed on the exercise and less focussed on what they hate about themselves.
You can probably tell that the poison is still running through me. My keyboard is suffering the bruises as a type. I’m not really sure if this is a letter to the speaker of those judgemental comments, or to the cane toad living inside me. But seriously, if you can’t judge another person’s job on how they look, how can you judge mine?
I didn’t have to pass any tests relating to my body size to become a personal trainer, no more than a real estate agent, a dentist or a barista. If being a personal trainer means I have to be trim, then I fail. I’m out. But, “running buddy” (and cane toad) if being personal trainer means I have to support people though the sometimes overwhelming journey of being active, then I am exactly how I am meant to be.