Oh hey, blog! How’s it going? Did you think I forgot about you? Sorry about that.
I will be honest with you, I have felt sort of burnt out.
A few years ago I felt called to deliver a new message to some special women. The women who look at their bodies and go “ugh”. The women who buy gym memberships and personal training packages and diet programs with the hope that this will finally be The Thing that “works” for them.
At first, my message was that life is a whole lot more than diet and exercise. Sleep and stress management and self-care are also super important.
As passionate as I felt about that message, it was hard to deliver.
Not because I couldn’t find the words or didn’t have the expertise, but because the women who needed it the most couldn’t hear me because my words were drowned out by the louder message of “weight loss culture”.
What I found was that even though I stepped away from the traditional personal training environment, even though I was promoting holistic health and mindset wellness and even though I had clients coming to me wanting to work with me to develop these things – the desire for weight loss was still there and it was still strong.
Some women heard me. They began to understand how their mindset affected their exercise and how their stress level was as important as their mindful eating.
Others listened but quickly fell back into old patterns of thinking and behavior that weren’t serving them but were comfortable and familiar.
I could see on the faces and hear in the words of my clients, they were down on themselves. They felt bad. They felt guilty. They carried a bunch of shame about their bodies. Instead of digging deep to heal the shame in order to heal their bodies, many still had the idea that fixing their bodies would fix everything.
Sometimes (okay, oftentimes) I felt like it didn’t matter what I said or did. However many times I explained that weight loss may be a side effect of a healthy, peaceful lifestyle but when it’s the focus it only leads to stress. They were like “yeah, yeah, just tell me what to eat and give me my workout”.
They’re not getting it, I thought. I am not explaining this right. I’m doing this wrong. Nobody is hearing me.
So I gave up.
Have you ever been to the ocean on a day when the waves are loud and angry? And you can’t even hear your own voice?
That’s how I felt. Yelling into the angry ocean.
I retreated. I stopped training and coaching. I was burnt out. I doubted my ability to help people who needed my help. I doubted my ability to help myself.
That’s when the opportunity to write a book fell into my lap. It took me 25 days to write my first draft. I wrote down everything I had been trying to say. I got it all out.
And then I wanted to hide. It felt like a relief to have it all off my chest and I felt ready to let it go and move on to something else.
Because teaching wellness is exhausting. Explaining (again and again and again) that weight loss is not my thing is exhausting.
When I asked for help naming my book, even after I explained what it was about, people still suggested weight loss related titles.
(Ahem…THAT’S NOT WHAT IT’S ABOUT.)
But it was hard for people to fathom that I, a personal trainer and wellness coach, would not be writing about weight loss.
With a heart full of frustration, I was totally prepared to move on. Next!
Here is what I have figured out during my hibernation: I can’t move on.
In writing the book, in talking to more and more women, in existing as a woman in our culture. I can’t move on. This is where I need to be.
Maybe it’s a result of the connections with other wellness professionals I have made over the last few years, maybe it’s my hyper-awareness to the subtle messages from culture that we receive on a minute by minute basis, maybe it’s just that this is really what I am supposed to do and how I am supposed to use my voice.
The messages that women receive from weight loss culture are incredibly damaging – emotionally, mentally and sometimes physically.
It’s not okay.
Women are so programmed to believe these messages that it’s damn near impossible to penetrate the fog.
It’s not okay.
There are so many so-called experts out there selling “health and wellness” in a way that is based on body shame and unrealistic expectations.
It is really not okay.
Please understand this: any “wellness” plan that is based on the idea that you’re not okay the way you are, is body shaming and that is not okay.
Who is going to stand up against that?
Our culture programs us.
You’re supposed to be a certain body type. If you’re not, you are given partial credit for doing everything you can to manipulate your body into that certain body type.
There’s this misconception that if you’re not trying to lose or maintain weight, that means that you’ve let yourself go and are now neglecting your health and wellness.
This is simply not true.
If you’ve never worked in marketing before, here is a simplified selling strategy: figure out the customer’s pain point and show them how your product is the solution.
When the pain point is that a woman doesn’t like her body, the solution is this diet and exercise plan. Logical right?
It’s more complicated than that. WAY more complicated. Rarely does anyone consider WHY she doesn’t like her body. In fact, for the most part, it’s just assumed that she doesn’t like her body.
Is it because she feels sick or something is unbalanced in her body? Or is it because she has been inundated for decades with the image of what her body should look like to the point that she is 100% convinced that there’s something wrong with her?
These are different problems that require different solutions yet the fitness and diet industries have been throwing the same dead-end solutions at you for your whole life.
So my message has morphed over the last couple of years. My message is that you don’t have to buy into those dead-end solutions that have been causing you stress and wearing you down for years. You don’t have to be part of that cycle. You can decide for yourself what healthy looks like.
It’s liberating but it’s also hard to digest.
It is hard to step away from this cultural norm that we all know so well. It’s making yourself an outsider. And that feels weird.
So my book is done and going to print soon.
Now I can sit and think about other things while I go through layout and approving manuscripts and the cover design and waiting for printing dates. I don’t have to do anything outside of myself. I can take a break from yelling at the ocean and save my voice for myself. I took comfort in this for a little while.
But here’s the thing. It’s all well and good to have written a book. If nobody reads it, nobody will be helped. I am not serving anyone by staying small and staying quiet.
Because I am done sitting still while my sisters are walking through shame and unhappiness that doesn’t even belong to them.
I realize now that I have no choice. My God-given calling is to yell at the ocean.
The ocean of cultural messages that you are not enough, you are not ok, you might be ok if you fix yourself, and if you’re not working on that then you have something to be ashamed of.
I have no choice but to yell back and say no, that’s not true.
So, here I am. I am here and I am ready to yell.