Is fat a dirty word?

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.

Not limited edition. ALL THE TIME PEOPLE.

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.

Good vibe, good view, good cider.

Earlier this year, I participated in the inaugural Flying Brick Bellarine Sunset Run with a PT client of mine. It was a very unique event and certainly worth shining the light on. This is the second, in a short series of my fun-run reviews. Distances offered: an “extended” half marathon – 21.8km and a 10.7km. (my client and I took on the 10.7km).

This run was heavily and from all accounts, successfully, promoted amongst the Bellarine locals and holiday makers (it sold out within 5 weeks). Organiser Dion Milne shares an attitude to running (trail running in particular) that is akin to my own – just get out and have a go (the waiver included a clause to the effect of I am willing to stop and walk to appreciate the scenery that the Bellarine coastline has to offer – LOVE. IT.). This outlook, combined with his own personal story of depression led Dion to initiate the event, encouraging people to use running as personal outlet for emotional stress and to raise funds for Headspace. From what I am told Dion was very dogmatic, enthusiastic and passionate to get the event up and running (pardon the pun) and his efforts were well worth it.

For a regular early morning runner, starting a gallop at 6:00 PM was both novel and annoying.  Even though my approach to running fuel is far from scientific, I did have to be conscious of what I ate during the day. And, as I pulled into the Portarlington caravan park to meet my running partner, I had to protest against the thought of opening a cold cider and spending the evening on the beach.

The 21km runners started off near the Portarlington pier while us 10km runners had to make our way to St Leonards. A bus was available if you prebooked and paid for your seat, but I had a husband and kids who were willing to do the drop off (right before they tucked into some fish and chips for dinner mind you… biastards).

The vibe at St Leonards was great, with lots of people huddled around in the Flying Brick running singlets that had been available to purchase. I had underestimated how good they would look and rather than doing what Personal Trainers probably should do (rev up my client, help her warm up, give her a pep talk, sing Eye of the Tiger… ?) I spent a fair bit of time discussing my annoyance at not purchasing one. It has become very evident to me that judging people’s running attire is my go-to pastime to calm any run event nerves or bolster up any wavering energy. JCNI startline

Before our starting siren went off, the lead runners of the 21km event had to plough through us. And plough is the most appropriate term; they had a bit of sand to trudge through before hair pinning up a hill and negotiating their way through a slightly oblivious 10km crowd. If I was a front runner of a 21km event, I may have been a little p.i.s.s.e.d at this point. But thankfully, I’ll never wear that crown, so I’ll continue my running career in blissful ignorance.

As we set off, it was obvious that my opportunities to assess, critique and admire others runners’ gear was going to be limited. The narrow track was pretty busy and crowded with 10km runners starting off and the remaining 21kms runners coming through. There was a lot of hopping, passing, slowing down and speeding up. It interrupted any potential conversation my running pal and I tried to have. Some of the 21ers took the crowded track quite literally in their stride and just dealt with it; others were a little frustrated at us piddley shorter distance runners and barked for us to “move over”, “hurry up”, “get out of the way”. Pfft, I don’t think they read all the clauses.

It took a while for the field to spread out a bit, but when it did it certainly was worth admiring the scenery. The gentle beach breeze fluttered at our side and the setting sun was slowly making tracks for the majestic You Yangs. The path, mainly flat, was a mix of slightly sandy and bitumen. The camaraderie amongst runners and the support from sidelines (warning, you run alongside a few caravan parks where deck-chaired settled campers clap while simultaneously drinking wine, beer and champagne) was one of the best I’ve come across. I haven’t personally met Dion, but I feel like his attitude towards running/exercise/life was somehow engrossed in the runners and spectators alike. jode scenery

Drink stations on the Bellarine Sunset Run were unique, innovative and respectful to the surrounds. It was made very clear in the lead up that disposable cups would not be provided on course and that runners had to either carry their own water or drinking vessels. Drink stations were on course to fill up camel packs, drink bottles or well cupped hands, but collapsible cups were for sale pre-event for about $3. These amazing little inventions fitted tidily into the palm of one’s hand when not in use. I’m all for a bit of environmental-friendliness, so think that this was just a super idea. (Mind you, if I had to carry one of these “amazing little inventions” on the marathon, I envisage myself piffing it at a well-meaning spectator anywhere between 28 and 40 kilometres).

Whilst most of the course was reasonably flat, there was a bit of undulation in the final kilometre. However, the anticipation of the finish line (directly below) was enough energise us up and over and down the other side.

The finishing chute was pretty exciting (I haven’t run through a non-exciting finishing chute yet). We were awarded with a pretty snazzy anchor shaped medal and the Flying Brick tent was only metres away for me to finally have that cider.

This is what my running colleagues had to say about the run:

“Being held in the evening, and my first Fun Run in 18 months, I was a little daunted to begin with. It was hot out on the course, but the scenery got me through. To get across the finish line was the best feeling in the world. I will be back to do it again next year.” Jodie, 10kms (that’s Jodes in the pictures above :) )

"I totally loved the Sunset run. The course and the view was spectacular. The atmosphere was amazing and the enthusiasm of the residents at the caravan parks was fantastic. The organisers and volunteers did a brilliant job. I loved the fact that it started later in the day because it gave it more of a party atmosphere than early morning events. The only negative was the lack of toilets on the course, but overall it was an awesome event that I will definitely do again." Jo, 21kms.

Next run I'll review is the Great Ocean Road Full and Half marathon....

You don't look like a real estate agent

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?

To hell with your “Personal Trainers are meant to be trim”: I eat really well and I exercise frequently. If I was meant to be trim: I would be. banana gun

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.

Is this how I am meant to be?