For me personally, even as a PT, it can be something I struggle with, but I admit this struggle and take control of it. When I feel far from body positive I try and address why, then I try and shift the focus, this is the same tactic I use with my own clients.
Ultimately you are you, and you will only ever be you, which is why it’s so important to try and love yourself at every stage. I know this is hard, and I know to some, being a certain weight equates to happiness, but to others it can mean the exact opposite. Saying that I’d be lying if I said there was no part of me what so ever that trained for aesthetics. I do train for aesthetics but not ONLY for aesthetics. I train for strength, for heart health, for bone density, for a good CV system, for fun (I know, bore off!) for a challenge.
There are SO many reasons to train that are not related to visible abs, ‘glutes,’ or sleeve popping biceps.
This is the mindset I try and instil in my own clients. Some of them will have more aesthetic than athletic goals but I try to take the focus off looks, and numbers on a scale and onto physical performance and numbers on a dumbbell. Often, with this mindset the aesthetic goals are still reached but they become an after thought, emphasis is shifted onto being able to run a 5k in a certain time, or squat a certain amount.
I may be a PT now, and I’ve learnt a hell of a lot along the way but my training and mindset used to be pretty different. Before I re trained to become a personal trainer, I suffered with bulimia and anorexia. This, in some ways, changed me and my life a lot.
Pre ED my ‘training’ consisted of cardio and light weights- you know the drill, cross trainer for 30 mins, bike for 30mins then something that looked like a bicep curl with some 4kgs, you don’t want to lift too heavy or you get bulky (NB, you don’t get bulky). During anorexia I ‘trained’ pretty much to burn off anything I’d consumed, I thought solely of calories in vs calories out. No idea of heart health, muscle mass, strong bones.
It was only coming out of my ED that I started to look at it all differently.
At the height of my anorexia I was the lowest weight I’d ever been, I had a thigh gap, I had protruding hip bones, I could easily fit into size 6 clothes, yet I was the most miserable I’d ever been, ever. My kidneys didn’t work properly, my bones hurt when I got out of the bath, I couldn’t pick up heavy boxes. So for me, a low weight doesn’t equal a happy life.
I am about 15kg heavier these days, but I rarely weigh myself. Yes, like anyone, there are times when I don’t like what I see in the mirror but this is my body and it’s pretty amazing- I can squat and deadlift double my bodyweight, I have run 2 half marathons, my kidneys function normally, my brain doesn’t feel like a constant grey fog.
I had to remind myself of all this today while having the ‘trying on’ session for both a wedding and a baby shower (you know you’re ‘in your 30s’ when you have both on the same weekend). It wasn’t good! It’s colder at this time of year so I’m back to my winter clothes, some of these clothes I haven’t warn since last winter, and some of them were feeling particularly tight!! This didn’t make me feel great at all- instantly your brain can equate tight clothes to getting ‘fat.’ That in turn can seem like a bad or negative thing, which can then impact on your whole mindset for that day/week/month. After I found an outfit I liked I realised I was hungry. The old me would have pushed the hunger aside, all too concerned with the tight clothes.
I had a coffee and ate a protein bar (#gymwanker), and while doing so tried to re-address the negative way I was looking at myself: I know that I enjoy training legs, I also know I’ve been using a lot more glute dominant exercises recently. Similarly, I love deadlifts, I need a strong back to be able to deadlift. Taking all this into account it would probably be fair to assume my glutes, legs and back may have increased in size, due to training and strength, not due to simply ‘getting fat.’
A dress size and/or a number on a scale does not define you. Being body positive doesn’t have to be purely related to looks, what about all the things your body can DO. Congratulate yourself for a deadlift PB, be proud if you got up early and went for a run, get excited about setting new targets and working hard to hit them. Celebrate the body you have and train because you want to better yourself, not because you hate yourself
Qualified Personal Trainer
Lover of nutrition
‘health and training is all encompassing, and not just about how you look’