I used to be a fitness competitor. You know the kind—with the red-hot sparkly swimsuit, six coats of spray tan and the ravenous face of a starved model?
I was obsessively rigid with my lifestyle and diet– to the point that I had an eating disorder called Orthorexia. I would measure, count and weigh every morsel of food (even 1/4th of a blueberry). I was obsessed with not only appearing to be the spitting image of perfection, but also living a life that appeared to be controlled, rigid and tough.
If you’ve listened to any interviews with me, you will hear that my obsessive lifestyle all stemmed from the feeling of unworthiness, fear and a lack of self-love. Since I was raised in a very black-or-white household with tons of rules, restrictions, punishment/reward systems, judgments and fear-based beliefs, I needed a way to cope. I learned to cope by controlling my body and food…but of course, that led me down a path of diminishing my power as a woman…not increasing it.
My recovery journey was long. After my second bodybuilding show, I realized things needed to change. I was living a life that was not chosen by my authentic self. Sure, my obsessions served a purpose growing up. They provided me a feeling of emotional safety. But I had outgrown the need to be “in control” in that way. It was keeping me from living the kind of freedom-based, love-based, sensuality-based, worthiness-based life that I knew I really wanted. Things had to change.
Long story short, short story shorter, I began to make a great deal of decisions that led me to where I am now. I moved to the mountains (Mother Earth!), adopted a dog (nurture something!), started eating intuitively (body wisdom!), left the gym life to explore different movement-based activities (pole dancing! climbing! barefoot walking!) and began the business that you now think of when you hear my name (become an extrovert! money! serve people!).
I contribute many of my shifts as a woman to those initial changes. The deeper work around embracing my Feminine Flow, learning to surrender to love, challenging my programming, healing old traumas, and becoming a sexually free being are the pieces that took my journey to an INCREDIBLE place. But I couldn’t have faced those deeper challenges without first changing some of my habits and my environment.
Yesterday I received the question from a listener of those show asking how I have been able to re-enter the health/fitness space after having such an intense and damaging relationship with it previously. This is a fantastic question.
Today, you may find me eating healthy meals in my kitchen (in fact, I eat small meals throughout the day like I did during my bodybuilding days…though the experience is completely different). You will find me training anywhere from 1-3 times a day depending on how much free time I have (handstands, Pilates, acrobatics, HIIT, climbing, yoga, dance). You may see me working out in a sports bra from time to time, letting my belly free to fly (no clue what that means but I like the way it sounds). I take supplements and frequently consume protein powder in my oatmeal (chocolate flavour all the whey).
For some of you, having any of these lifestyle choices is not in your best interest nor does it sound exciting to you. I absolutely respect that. For me, it works (right now) and that’s why I’m sharing it. I’ve been asked by many clients in the past, “Will I ever be able to workout again? Will I ever be able to eat healthy without feeling triggered to take it to the extreme? Can fitness ever be a part of my hobbies?”
The following includes a few reasons why I believe the answer to those questions are yes’s (keep in mind, it’s only possible when the timing is right. Do not rush the stage you are in.)
Here are some reasons why health and fitness can be a big part of my life again:
1. I NEVER read articles on nutrition or fitness.
Never. Ever. I’m so bored and uninterested in what the latest trend or superfood happens to be. I’m pretty uninterested in food altogether, to be honest. It’s just a part of my day and while it tastes great and I look forward to every meal, I don’t spend my free time studying or researching it. I eat grains, dairy, bars and yes, even a few things that come in the middle aisles of the grocery store, and I feel better than I have in my entire life.
2. I don’t underestimate the power of a good poop.
One of the biggest factors of whether I have a great body image day or a crappy body image day is if I’m bloated or constipated. My body isn’t perfect and there are days, especially when I’m traveling, that I have to “let that shit go” (or I guess I’m holding it in?) and be fine with being inconsistent, but for the most part, I know that my poop schedule is important. If I stay consistent in this area, my mood lifts, my body feels more energetic and my activity levels feel true to what I desire (not just what I think I need to do in order to get rid of the constipation). Some of my non-negotiables for staying consistent include fish oils at night, magnesium, coffee and waking up at the same time every morning.
3. I know my body will fluctuate until my final breath.
The body I have right now will not always look like this. I could break my leg tomorrow and no longer be able to climb mountains. I could get really sick this winter. I could get pregnant. I could simply shift my priorities. I could have to work longer hours. I could go through depression. Life is one constant transition—the number one way to get into a state of anxiety and frustration is to pretend like wherever we are is permanent. I know that the way my body looks and feels right now isn’t permanent so there is no reason to attach to it.
4. I stick with the foods that work for me.
When I go out to eat, I eat whatever sounds good. When I’m home, I stick to a group of foods I know work really well for me. For some people, this would bore the bajeezus out of them. For me, I love it. I love simple. I will mix up a few things here and there, but for the most part I know what foods are digested easily in my body, give me the energy I need and support my temple.
5. I don’t involve myself in conversations about food controversy or dieting.
If someone is on a diet, I don’t care to share my two cents. I don’t care to hear their two cents. Done and done.
6. I move my body only in ways that bring me joy.
I don’t force anything that ain’t flowin. I don’t absolutely adore cardio, but I do it because it keeps my heart healthy. Other than that, I only do activities I am thrilled about doing. Pilates, acrobatics and bouldering are all nourishing to my soul. Acrobatics gives me community and support. Pilates strengthens everything. Bouldering gives me the constant gift of falling and being out of control. I fill my life with movement that teaches me life lessons as well as gives me a good workout.
7. I enjoy feeling fit.
Deep down, underneath all my disordered behaviors, I’ve always enjoyed fitness. Even during my bodybuilding days, it wasn’t fitness that was the root of all evil. The problem was why I was doing it. The problem was soooo deep. It was about trauma, perfectionism, anxiety, depression and fear. Working out was never the root of the distortion.
Knowing that, I’ve been able to re-enter the world of fitness and health because I’ve been healing those wounds over the last five or so years. I “cope” in healthy ways such as with meditation, journaling, movement, dance, my business and feeling loved. I feed my heart, body and soul nourishment.
Fitness is just that….fitness. For me, it’s easy to re-enter this world and be a part of it. It’s easy for me to strengthen my body, challenge my physical limits and eat healthy meals. I can also sleep in, drink tequila and have a stack of pancakes. There’s room for everything—in any amount I desire.
This week’s podcast was with the beautiful Intuitive Healer, Psychic, Author and Speaker Chloe Elgar. In this episode we talk about mind games, seeing purpose in everything (even things that feel like a waste of time like TV) and what her life is like as a psychic. This conversation felt like a chat with a bestie– well a chat that’s being aired to several thousand. You’re going to love it, methinks.
You do NOT want to miss this one.