For as long as I can remember I have always been self-conscious of my body.
Not that I have ever needed to be, but I was always envious of my friends who wore smaller sizes or could pull of clothing better than I could – always forgetting that I was a good three to five inches shorter than said friends. Picking myself apart in the mirror over, honestly, quite miniscule things. Even though I felt uncomfortable I never tried to change my habits. I ate what I wanted when I wanted (as all children do) and I just accepted that this was me, these were my genetics, and that was that.
Luckily I was a competitive swimmer during elementary/middle and the first year of high school. So even though I was eating pizza pops, Michelina’s Fettuccine Alfredo, and literal LOAVES of garlic bread after school I was exercising enough to never see any weight gain! That is until I switched from swimming year round to only swimming four months out of the year.
This was during my second year of high school so I was living life! Going to McDonald’s late at night for hours with my best friends, and drinking sugar filled Palm Bays (sorry mom) on weekends. The worst part was the more of this I did the more uncomfortable I felt in my skin, but I knew that swimming was just around the corner! So I would shed off those extra pounds and be fine again. Just in time for summer!! I did this for a few years until getting a gym membership in Grade 12 to look better in my grad dress – but as we all know by now, you can’t out train a bad diet. So here I was, 17 years old, already deep into my own cycle of crash diets and exercising.
When I finally quit swimming I was about to turn 19 so I was OBVIOUSLY going out with my friends two, maybe even three times a week. On top of that I had just started working in a restaurant, eating the best but worst things on the menu because why waste that 50% off discount am I right?! Both of these things quite quickly turned into a recipe for disaster. I looked in the mirror one day and I didn’t even recognize myself. I was ashamed and embarrassed so I hopped online bought a “skinny tea”, googled the best workout plan to follow, stopped drinking, didn’t eat any processed food and in a short 3 months, I lost all of the weight I had put on and then some.
I was so proud of myself! For the first time, I had set a goal and reached it. The only problem was that I was maybe pushing myself a little bit too hard. I took very few days off, I was in the gym for two to three hours a DAY and I never allowed myself to stray off track with my food. I basically cut myself off from a social life to fit into a size… not a life I would recommend. So fast forward about 6 months and I had inevitably stopped going to the gym as much, I was going out again with my friends, and I wasn’t eating as well as I had been. I didn’t just dislike how I looked at this point, I disliked how I FELT. So again, I started to change my eating habits and worked out a little bit more but I was still always experiencing stomach pain of some kind; along with all of the other embarrassing side effects of an IBD. Two trips to the ER and a specialist appointment later I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease.
I was honestly a little bit relieved after I was diagnosed because finally there was some rhyme or reason as to why I always felt like no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t getting anywhere. Being aware of what foods affected me or that if I’m more stressed than usual I get more tired than normal made me feel a bit more in control of where to go next. But the problem was now I saw it as an excuse to not work out so I ONCE AGAIN found myself back in the mirror not recognizing my own reflection.
This brought me to a place called NaccFitness. A women’s only boutique gym that an old coworker (now friend) owned and ran – and at this point I was so tired of continually falling back into the same up and down weight loss routine, so when I signed up with Liz I knew I had to commit to changing my entire lifestyle. We did strength and conditioning days, very similar to Club Sweat, and I worked harder than I ever had. I pushed myself (a bit too hard) but seeing results was/is just so addicting! I knew that this was something I had a passion for, so I wanted to learn more. This is when I decided to sign up for a Personal Training Course. It was really for myself at the beginning, to know why and what I was working, but I soon realized that I could really help other people who didn’t know where to start.
After my own experience in a gym that literally changed my life, I can relate to those of you who love Club Sweat as much as you do, because choosing to show up 2, 3, 4, 5 times a week is you committing to yourself. Which in itself is amazing. I still have days where I feel self-conscious, I still have days where I eat any and everything in sight! I don’t make it to the gym every day of the week, sometimes not even for an entire week! But life is too short to have some weight racks and a food scale control it. I am grateful for what I have been through because I know that things will always get better. I also know how hard I can push myself and will continue to better my entire life.
Health, Wellness, all of it! Having an autoimmune disease can be debilitating at times but I can’t and I won’t let that stop me from reaching my goals.