AN OPEN LETTER TO WOMEN, FROM A PERSONAL TRAINER
I know who you are. For years you have battled with your body; have likely been on countless restrictive diets, used and abused exercise to the point of compulsion, loathed looking at yourself in the mirror and may have even avoided parts of life.
You blame yourself for not being disciplined enough, for lacking the willpower that’ll help achieve the body of your dreams. If only I had more conviction or motivation, you say to yourself. You look at photos of women with flat stomachs, perfect skin and shiny hair, and wish that you too could look five years younger or sexier in your clothes.
I know who you are because I see you every day. I see you in the different women that I meet, I overhear you talking to your friends and I see it in your eyes when we discuss your goals. I know you because I once was you.
I know that you probably don’t like your body that much, just like the other 90 per cent of women in Australia, and I’m sure that a large part of your day is spent thinking about your body, your weight and wishing for more. I’m even willing to bet that you reward yourself with food when you’ve “been good” and punish yourself at the gym for when you’ve “been bad”. Feelings of guilt, shame and not being enough are always lurking under the surface.
For well over a decade I’ve had the privilege of transforming peoples lives – physically, spiritually and mentally. I’ve been a personal trainer, health coach, educator, mentor, support person and friend to thousands of women, each with their own unique story and set of experiences. Yet they all have so much in common.
For a long time I have watched women come into the gym, exercise, restrict calories and go into battle against their bodies.
I’ve seen first-hand how delighted and enthused a woman is when her body responds by losing weight or dropping a couple of dress sizes. On the flip side I’ve witnessed the tears, depression and sense of failure when the weight creeps back on. Scales have an uncanny knack for making or breaking a woman.
As a female trainer I’m asking you to please reconsider what you’re doing to your body and mind. Please stop battling against your body, please refrain from punishing it with poor nutrition and excessive exercise – and for once start loving it and treating it with the respect that it (and you) deserves.
You see here’s the catch. If you want to make sustainable changes to the way your body looks and feels, you must start by focusing on being healthy, in both body and mind. Only then the external changes will come.
By the way, there is a huge reason why you feel the way you do.
Being a veteran of the industry I’ve seen many trends come and go and never before has there been such an overwhelming focus on the “ideal” female body.
Modern media objectifies women and with a constant barrage of unrealistic representations of our bodies, we are led to believe that they are no longer normal or beautiful. If we don’t meet the standards of what is considered beautiful, we’re made to feel inferior and worthless. The unprecedented amount of pressure placed on women and girls to be a particular shape or look is driving us to use extreme measures to become something we are not.
Parts of the fitness industry are just as much to blame: “fitness models” grace magazine covers, endorse “miracle” weight loss methods and promise instant results; quick-fix products and are plastered over our social media feeds as sources of “fitspiration”.
And then we have the never-ending body shaming to contend with. One minute someone is too skinny, then too fat, then too muscly, then . . . the list goes on and on.
No wonder we are left confused, disheartened and lacking the confidence to rock our bodies.
Before I go on, as a representative of the fitness industry, I want to offer you an apology. We’ve made the terrible mistake of moving away from health and performance, in favour of focusing on the aesthetics. I believe that we’ve lost sight of what it means to get people fit, happy and healthy.
I also want to apologise for the constant barrage of six-packs, booties, lean legs, taut arms and box gaps that are on display. You do not have to look like that to be successful.
Now, you may be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, I want to share with you what I share with my clients, because I’m tired of seeing women hating on themselves. It’s time for women to reclaim their power and start seeing themselves as the beautiful creatures that they are.
I want you to know that you can be fit and healthy without having to rock a six-pack or a massive booty. You can be successful and full of energy without having to look like a fitness model. You can be stunningly vibrant and ooze health without becoming obsessive.
Of course, you can still want the best for your body and if that means shedding some kilos or dropping body fat, then that’s cool. If you want to look like sports model and have the genetic potential to do so, then that’s cool, too.
Just do it from a place of nurture and love. Choose to nourish your body with the right foods, smart training, quality sleep and healthy relationships. Work with your body by giving it all the care and attention it needs, without driving it into the ground. Be the best possible you and don’t compare yourself to others. Trust your body and trust your intuition. Become the expert in yourself, so that you’re well placed to make educated decisions about your body and your health.
And this is the most important thing to remember: cultivate the art of self-love. Love your body – all of its wobbly bits, bumps, wrinkles and scars. Love it for how it serves you and holds you in good stead day in, day out. Give yourself permission to be imperfect, yet at the same time give yourself the permission to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
You are a strong, powerful woman, and your self worth is not determined by the numbers on a scale, the size of your dress or how glossy magazines say you should be.
It’s time for us women to take a united stance and redefine what is beautiful. Beauty is found in the way we live, act, behave and contribute to the world.
So to all you beautiful woman out there, love yourself and go rock your bod.
PS If this resonated with you I would love to hear about it. Come join the conversation at facebook below:
Nardia is an Australian Institute of Fitness ‘Legend’, Fitness Network Personal Trainer of the year 2014, course creator, international presenter and part time comedian (in her lounge room).
She loves helping women in fitness create stronger businesses so they can have more money, flexibility and impact.
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