A few Fridays back my friend and I went to a local restaurant for a casual night out. Its a funny little restaurant everything is blue and its decorated with both Art Deco and nautical themes, I am not sure what look they were going for but, I adore the place. We had only ever been there during the week and never on a weekend, It was filled with locals. We were sitting off to the side and inconspicuous or so we thought. Person after person who knew us from here or there came to say hello. One man, whom I had never met, approached me and said "you are that local fitness celebrity who always writes about feelings right?" I replied with "I absolutely write about feelings". It stuck with me, the man was amused by my writing about feelings as a fitness professional. Clearly he assumed that they should be separate. I wondered how many people feel the way he did as I am over here not seeing how they could ever be separate.
Maybe it is weird to some that I place so much emphasis on these other parts of us, the messy emotional parts. These concepts cant truly be separated. Physical health cant happen in the absence of mental and emotional health. Life does'nt happen in a vacuum, not ever.
Last year I got divorced, to say it changed me is the biggest understatement of my life. It knocked me on the floor and covered me in mud. Life was a cyclone. On one of my worst days I was curled in a ball on the floor wailing, I felt physical pain from the grief. I didn't know what was happening to me or who I was anymore. I was still a bodybuilder, I was still a mom, a nutrition coach, a personal trainer, a coach. My divorce affected every single aspect of who I was, it impacted all of my roles. Everything bled together, each day my emotions changed and those emotions required that I scale my actions for that day. There was no separateness in my domains of health (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and social) and all of my roles were impacted.
There were many days where I should have turned the gear, showed myself grace and accepted that I needed to slow down. A nap was probably a better example of taking care of physical health than deadlifting but, I wasn't balanced, I wasn't regulating. I was trying to beast my way through my feelings. (That never works.) I coach my clients to make space for their feelings and turn the gear of physical health. Knowing when to turn that dial to the left or to the right is an incredible skill. physical health is multi faceted and exists on a spectrum. On one end of that spectrum may be taking a shower while on the other end is hitting the gym.
I have always considered myself strong and found pride in my ability to "handle shit". I am a mom, I am a bodybuilder and I am a feminist. "I will get through this" I thought. I held in my tears, I hated complaining or sharing my feelings. I was trying to manage, get a grip, snap out of it. Guess what happened, I developed TMJ, my hair started falling out, I developed hypertension and I stopped sleeping. So yes dammit, I talk about feelings. My inability to show myself compassion and express my pain brought my physical health to a screeching halt and put me in danger. As a fitness professional and a recreation therapist, I have a responsibility to be mindful of the person behind me who may be struggling as I struggled. So here I am, telling my story and putting my shit out there.
It bears repeating, nothing exists in a vacuum. We all have emotions and most of us experience crisis at some point in our lives. My emotional and metal health were suffering and controlling all of my life, I attempted to regulate and navigate as much as I could. At times I was'nt sleeping at all, going to the gym and sobbing while lifting. It's just where I was. Now, I don't sob most days but, I notice that I shake when I get upset by something. My hands tremble and I feel like my insides are shaking. A physical reaction to an emotion, see the overlap?
I am not the only woman who has ever gotten divorced. Anyone who has been through it absolutely knows how devastating it is. Is it supposed to be shameful if I share my truth? I am not ashamed. However, I wish I let myself have the emotions so I didn't get so sick.
Therefore, fuck yes, I am the fitness professional who talks about her feelings and her emotions and how they impact her health. I wear that hat proudly. I am friends with many incredibly intelligent fitness and nutrition professionals. ALL OF US are aware of the importance of balancing all aspects of health. Thats how we stay in this damn game. Do you want to be here into your 70's and 80's? I do.
Today I work daily on all of me. My day starts with meditation and journaling and then I hit the gym. That magical trifecta is how I meet my spiritual, mental, emotional, mental and physical needs. I need to do all of that shit first, I never have any clue where the day will bring me anymore or how much bandwidth will be required.
In retrospect, this past year has taught me so many lessons I know who I am now. I have a clear picture of how I want to show up in my life, an authentic person.
An honest coach
A loving mother
A nurturing friend
A creative thinker
Do you struggle with adherence to your fitness or nutrition goals?
Do you involve your mental, emotional, spiritual health in your journey?
Has your emotional or mental health ever impacted your physical health?
I have made the decision to pivot my teachings a bit and focus a bit more on helping people lean on health practices during times of crisis. As I stated earlier, knowing how to turn the gears here is essential. We cant "just do it", I couldnt. We also dont all have the same 24 hours in a day. My 24 hours as a single mother navigating a divorce are not the same as a 23 year old single fitness influencer with no kids (fuck you kindly). Prior to my divorce I felt empathy for everyone who was in the wake of the gimmicky promises of the fitness industry, I still do. Today as I sit here a year out of the worst time of my life I am most protective of any woman who feels the way I felt. So, I am reaching my hand behind and helping other women cross the pond using the tools and the skills that saved my ass.
Thanks for reading and walking this path with me