I talk a bunch on here and my social media about body positive fitness. Body posi fitness has become a bit of a buzzword, and it's super cool to hear folks talking about it, yet this also means that body posi fitness starts to mean a lot of different things. I wanted to clarify a bit about what body positive fitness means to me.
I'm so happy to see more people talking about body positive fitness, and I hope that people catch on to the idea that working out doesn't have to be tied to weight goals. What are some benefits you have experienced from working out that are unrelated to weight or size?
My ten-year-old and I were in the pool and he asked if I was sensitive about my size. I told him, no not particularly, and went on to clarify...
Me: If I say my hair is brown, nobody is upset about that, right? And if someone else says to me, "Your hair is brown!", that isn't an insult, right?
Me: But what about if they say, "Ewwwwww, your hair is brown!" Is that insulting?
10: Yeah, that sounds mean.
Me: So I think the same way about saying I'm fat. It isn't a bad thing, so it literally doesn't matter.
10: But you aren't fat, you're, like, muscley.
Me (Doesn't want to get into the weeds about it): But I have a bigger body. But it literally doesn't matter. My size isn't good or bad.
We went on to talk a little about his body, and also how people will sometimes say mean things even to smaller bodied people about being "too skinny" or other things. We agreed that bodies are all different, and that's cool. When you can approach your body size with the kind of indifference that you view something else, like the size of your feet, or your height, you begin to approach body neutrality. I'm not all the way there, but I get glimpses.
(For the uninitiated, ELI5 is often used for Explain it Like I'm 5. So this is the ELI10 version. I think this explanation might also work for a five-year-old, and if I get the opportunity to test it, I will follow up.)
Hey friends! I am so excited to share that I just passed the exam to become an ACE Certified Personal Trainer! What does this mean? I will now be adding personal training services along with the group fitness classes I already offer. I am working to develop these packages, and would be interested to hear any specific requests of what people might be interested in. For example, do you prefer to have a plan you can just follow on your own time, or prefer virtual training sessions where I watch your workout and can provide real time feedback?
I also wanted to speak about my decision to pursue a personal training certification. To be very honest, it was hard for me to dive into this certification. As a woman in a larger body, I struggled with self doubt about who would want to hire a personal trainer who looks like I do? Among personal trainers, people often say that your body is your business card. This is honestly pretty cringe-worthy, but we can dive deeper into that another day. I also struggled with the idea that I was starting over in a new career path despite being at the pinnacle of credentials in my current field in mental health. It felt a bit silly, to be honest.
Despite struggling with all that self doubt, I signed up for the ACE CPT course. It took me about nine months to work through. Prior to this, I didn't have a very strong background in anatomy, so that took me a while to learn. If anyone reading this is looking for tips on how to learn anatomy, I can recommend a few great YouTube channels that helped me a lot!
How and why did I overcome all those doubts and dive into this certification? To be honest, I didn't overcome them per se; I just did it anyway. I have been passionate about fitness for a lot of years, and I am passionate about creating fitness spaces focused on inclusivity, diversity, and with an emphasis on body positivity. To me, body positive fitness spaces don't focus on weight loss, and instead focus on moving your body in ways that feel challenging, but good and functional for your body. My longer term goal is to be able to offer intuitive eating coaching together with workout plans and training. By connecting to my values and what is important to me, I was able to "feel the fear and do it anyway."
Workout to live, or live to workout?
I'll be honest, I often live to workout. With this pandemic shutting down all the trail and road races I was training for, and also closing the gym, things have changed. I'm still running and working out, but it is definitely different. And honestly, in some ways, it is better. When I'm training for big goals, a lot of my time is spent...well, training. For a big goal. Sometimes, it is painful, exhausting, etc.
My kids and their cousins wanted me to jump on the trampoline with them. Often, I would be too tired or sore to do that, but on this particular day, I went for it. We jumped around like crazy, and while I was with them, the idea of "working out to live" kind of smacked me upside the head. I was fit enough to jump and not feel all winded after 30 seconds, but not so fatigued or sore from training that I couldn't play with them.
Will I go back to running twenty miles on a Saturday, or maxing out my deadlift and being sore and tired? Probably, because I love it. But I also love jumping on a trampoline with the kids. Possibly this is a message to myself to remind myself to prioritize. I usually am always in a training cycle for something, and go right from one to the next, but it's okay to take breaks. Still workout, but workout to live.
I'm sure if you've done "bootcamp" style classes, you've done so-called "suicides." You know, where you sprint a short distance, then back, then further, and back, and so on. These are also called shuttle runs, but somewhere along the way, calling them suicides became the common nomenclature.
It never sat right with me. Suicide affects millions of people per year. There are people who are suicide attempt survivors (folks who made an attempt to end their own life and lived). And there are suicide loss survivors (folks who know a person who died by suicide). It is estimated that for each person who dies by suicide, there are 135 people impacted by that death. My sister survived the loss of two of her friends by suicide when they were all in high school. Her graduating class was huge, over 800 people. That is over 800 young people who, during their formative high school years, experienced a loss by suicide. People who lose a loved one by suicide are at greater risk for future suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and also death by suicide. This is a huge problem, and one that impacts many people in various ways.
Losing a loved one by suicide is painful in complicated ways. People who survive a loss by suicide may struggle with guilt and shame. People may say insensitive things to them about their loved one. Grief from suicide loss is a complex journey. I say this to clarify the scope and impact of suicide on people.
It is for these reasons that calling an exercise "suicides" has never sat right with me. When I first became certified in group fitness, I researched other names for that move, and learned that they are also called shuttle runs. Which, I may add, is a perfectly descriptive name for what you're doing!
It may seem insignificant to some people, but when you are struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself, and your fitness instructor says, "Now we're going to do suicides!", it really is significant. If you've been calling this exercise "suicides", I ask you to consider whether you could make the shift in your language to calling them shuttle runs instead. It really is about being a kind human.
Mom in charge at Enlighten Well. I do body positive fitness, intuitive eating, and whatever else I feel called to do. Get to know me here.