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Self-love and body positivity are all the current rage in marketing and #inspo. I applaud everyone who posts their bikinis pics feeling all jazzed and confident with the tag #bodypositive. But for most people this concept is unrealistic and these images feel completely fake and contribute to those feelings of unworthiness.

 

A client said to me, I saw this post on Instagram that said you just have to put on a bikini and love your body and that’s all there was to it.

“that’s just never going to happen”.

And she is 100% right that is really unrealistic for most people and in fact  just gives them one more thing to feel like they should be doing but are failing at.

If you have had a chequered relationship with your body, with food or fitness just loving yourself is not going to be a quick or easy task,

To say to your body I am going to forget the years of torture and torment I put you through and instead just say, I love you just the way you are, it’s not going to work.

 

So my suggestion is to lets completely tone it down, forget about loving our body and instead focus on something we all should be working towards and able to achieve.

Let’s start with practising kindness towards our body and our self, respecting our body and accepting our body.

I think respect and acceptance are what most people can work towards and most people should be working towards rather than the fluffy feel good self-love.

 

So, I’ve got four tips for you; how to literally like your body.

 

TIP #1

 

Change the self-talk

 

When you notice you are having these same negative dialogue with yourself;

Saying “I don’t like this about myself, I hate this about myself”

“Oh, this feels Yuck. I hate my belly, I hate my arms, I hate my legs”,

Notice it and stop it.

Nothing good will come from body shaming and hating yourself.

Repeating that internal dialogue is only going to just re-emphasize the thoughts and the negative thoughts that you have about your body.

 

As soon as you notice this negative story creeping in break the cycle by:

1: saying something kind about your self

2:Stating out loud one part of your body you like

3:Stopping and start an activity that is pleasure able and kind to yourself; brush your hair, paint your nails, pick out a nice outfit.

 

Begin by paying attention and practicing  awareness where we go down that shame spiral,  so that you can bring these thoughts back to a place of kindness.

 

TIP #2

 

Don’t join in body hate.

I notice so often then when we get into groups it is common to create a group bond by talking down to ourselves.  Spending time with friends where negative conversations about bodies constantly come up can normalize body dissatisfaction and body hate.

If you receive a compliment it is expected the response is downplayed,  and deflected to something which puts a negative spin on it.

I love your new haircut!

Ohhhh I only got a fringe to hide my wrinkles.

When you notice that you’re having these sort of conversations both with friends or family ask yourself

Is this a positive conversation?

Is this a productive conversation?

Is this something that’s going to make me feel better or worse afterwards?

 

Knowing that if the answer is no do not be afraid to speak up, change the topic.

 

TIP #3

The comparison trap.

When you are spending time with friends, also when you are spending time on social media and alone. Think about how much time you spend looking at other people’s bodies, comparing yourself to other people’s bodies, commenting on other people’s bodies, and around people who constantly comment and critique on other people’s bodies.

How many hours of the day are given to these kinds of thoughts, this headspace and this negativity?

When we spend time comparing ourselves with someone else, it’s only going to lead to more negative feeling for ourselves. Start with culling your social media, unfollow anyone who makes you feel negative towards your body or yourself.

Be prepared to have this conversation with your friends or family that when they are either criticizing someone else’s body or comparing themselves to someone else, it is going to be creating negative feelings for both of you.

Try instead, “let’s see how long we can go without making a negative comment about our appearance or someone else’s body.

So, having a conversation about what? Things are like could we talk about or just about how we can possibly let go of that comparison of “she looks like this, I wish I looked like that” sort of thing.

 

TIP #4

Do something for yourself and your body that you have never done before.

Something completely different that might be fun, might be crazy, it might be something which you would love to try but you’re too scared to.

Maybe try rock climbing; it could be going for a long walk with some beautiful scenery, it could be jumping out of a plane or it could be signing up for your first 5km fun run.

Putting your attention to something that your body can do rather than what it looks like is something that can really kind of perhaps open up your eyes and create space for more positive thoughts about your body to come in.


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One thing I know for sure is we are completely overwhelmed and confused about all the nutrition info out there. We get our information from health and fitness magazines, from personal trainers, from Instagram, documentaries and from the chick who sits next to us in the office.

With the influx of information, it is no wonder we are all completely confused baffled, but marketing companies are paying big bucks to keep you that way.

Supplements, pills and detoxes are all part of a regular ‘healthy’ diet even though none of them has been shown to work. My cupboard is full of green powders, multi-vitamins and fat burning supplements that have no evidence of any health benefits, and are a waste of money. I could have bought myself a nice holiday with all that money down the toilet, literally.

First let me in on a secret, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nutrition does not have to be confusing or overwhelming, in fact, the simpler it is, the more likely it will be to work.

There is no secret to belly fat, no berry that has cured cancer, and no special shake that will give you the body of your dreams.

 

Clickbait & superfoods

Journalists are faced with new challenges to make food interesting, trendy and exciting. There are only so many different ways you can encourage people to drink more water and so the click-bait titles are part of the job description

“I drank 3 litres of water every day for a month and here’s what happened”

“The personal trainers shocking secret to lose belly-fat”

Don’t worry I would click on them too, only to be disappointed about a fluffy article about nothing.

In fact, food marketing is a multi-million dollar industry, with seasonal trends being researched and invested. Just like the clothing industry already knows what you are wearing next season as does the food industry know what’s the next superfood.

“Forecasting which health foods will make that leap from a fad to staple has become a big business, particularly as more consumers prioritize nutrition.”

Spinach was the new lettuce.

Then kale was cool.

New celery is the new Kale.

How do we know what is real and what is false?

Understand that superfoods are just a marketing scam, there will always be a new superfood which is more expensive than the alternative.

By pricing them high it feeds into the belief that we are eating healthier as we are spending more money. This could not be further from the truth.

The benefits are minimal at best, and all the is happening is your wallet is taking a beating.

So super-foods, if you like the taste go ahead and buy it, but you don’t need it in your diet and you are just as well off saving your money.

 

Evaluating research

Do your research, don’t grab something just because someone has recommended it, be a trainer or health professional. Start with Google in both the positive and the negative, not just information to support the claim.

benefits of celery juice

Negatives of celery juice

does celery juice actually work

See if you can find the research study that this information study came from.

Unfortunately, many people present information and claim it as fact when it may not be evidence-based.

 

So how do we know what information is reliable?

These questions can help us evaluate the credibility of information:

  • Is this written by a qualified and registered health professional (e.g. GP, dietitian, psychologist)?
  • Is the author free of commercial interests (i.e. they are not trying to sell you a product, service, or a story)?
  • Does the article include reliable evidence to back up its claims (i.e. several large research studies conducted rather than anecdotal stories or one-off studies)?
  • Is enough information provided for you to check the background research for yourself (i.e., research citations)?
  • Was there a research study done? How long was the study? How many people were studied? The more information the better.

By keeping your eyes open for facts and not sensationalized information you can save your worries and your wallet.

If you are feeling confused an overwhelmed about nutrtion I have great news, I have created a brand new online course

 


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This is a question that has been going around in the online circles I hang out, Does a personal trainer need to look the part?

It has also been on my mind since the recent Brittney Dawn scandal, which if you haven’t been following you can catch up here, but basically, she scammed a whole bunch of clients. She is a fitness infleunce with tons of young and impressionable followers.

 

Personally, I don’t follow any ‘fitness influencers’ because I don’t find they have any value and their fake persona just irritate me. But I know they are out there and they are popular. So the fact that they have millions of followers leads me to believe: our clients and society as a whole place a whole lot of value on appearance, and as these people pay money to their programs, it is a general belief that having abs makes someone a good trainer.

 

If you believe this, I am here to blow your mind.

 

So going back to the question, does a personal trainer need to look the part, what does a good personal trainer look like?

The question was asked to a group of online personal trainers.

The comments were a resounding YES, Hell YES!

 

“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”

“Your body is a walking resume”

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”

 

These kind  of trainer I see around, you can spot them a mile away. If you spot one, avoid them like the plague.

 

The body shaming trainer

“Your clients want to aspire to be like you or even look like you”

 

This is beyond concerning, this comment is at best ignorant and stupid and at it’s worst completely narcissistic.

 

Surely you realize that even if you give your client the exact same program and nutrition plan that you follow, they will not look like you? Because everybody is different, we have different genetics, bone structures, metabolism, gut health and of course mindset and beliefs.

Even if you look at a 6-week challenge end result, where they have had the same 6-week carb-phobic food plan and the death by burpees training regime. Look at it, tell me, do they all look the same?

 

These trainers post photo after photo of their abs or butts and are doing two things:

 

  1. Looking for external validation through likes and comments because deep down they don’t believe in their own worth.
  2. Trying to make you feel insecure and like shit about your own body so you buy their crappy program

 

Be very wary of this type of trainer they lack any empathy and will push their shaming and bullying tactics on you.

 

How to recognise them:

 

Genetically blessed with a big butt or naturally lean

Post quotes like “Put in the work” “quitters never win, winners never quit”

Social media is filled with tons of photos of their abs and butt

About as much personality as a rock

Post loads of videos of themselves doing Metcon or booty workouts

Selling some sort of MLM shake

Use shame-based marketing, their underlying message is “one day you could look like me, but you are too lazy”

 

The body dysmorphia trainer

“Your body is a walking resume”

 

So if our bodies are a walking resume, does that mean if your not 6% you are out of a job? Because I know a lot of people who think that and this creates a whole big vicious circle.  Females out there, it is not in any way healthy to maintain 6% year round. For most of us it will mean we are malnourished and undereating, yes there will be a few genetic outliers who can sit that low

When this happens your period stops, your hormones and fertility is a mess, your mental health and quality of life suffer.

So many people are getting themselves stuck in this trap of I have to maintain this leanness year round and then give themselves a full-blown eating disorder.

Body sculpting or bodybuilding is one part of fitness, but it is not everything, broaden your horizons.

I hope you have at least read a book about coaching, psychology or change. You can get abs by eating 1200 calories a day. You can tell your client to do that and spend an hour a day on the treadmill. But then what, are they going to sustain that? Hell bo, becasue it’s torture.

 

This kind of trainer can be found:

Posting lots of photos of themselves posing or training with no shirt

Spend at least 2 hours in the gym every day

Militant with their training regime and expect their clients to be too

Spend hours in front of the gym critiquing their body

Can only eat from their meal plan and have anxiety when anything deviates from it

Believe they are fat

Have some sort of body dysmorphia

 

 

The fatphobic trainer

“Be healthy and practice what you preach”

 

Let’s get one thing straight, you cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at someone.

 

WHO definition of health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

 

Nothing in this statement says you need abs. I know just as many people who are unhealthy in a smaller body as they are in a larger body. People whose mental health is completely wrecked because they obsess about calories and body fat. Who can’t socialise in case there isn’t something on the menu that doesn’t fit their macros?

 

What worries me is the number of people who have had their own transformations and are now a trainer and instead of learning how to be the best possible trainer they just spout the same methods that made them lose weight.  Your weight loss advice is giving people disordered eating patterns.

 

These types of trainers can be found:

 

Posting tons of before and after’s and throwbacks

Are fat-phobic

Are very stuck in black and white thinking

Will encourage disordered eating patterns such as cutting out all whole grains

Believe their diet is the best diet and will tell anyone who listens:”I lost 45kgs on Keto”

Often struggle with secret or binge eating due to their excessive food restrictions.

 

 

If you are thinking about buying a training service

Consumers it is time to step up and take some responsibility. Turn on your bullshit detector.

Stop buying from people just because they have abs, it mostly comes down to genetics!

And anyway what is so inspirational about having abs??

Yes, there is skill and mastery in building and transforming your own body, but doing it in a healthy sustainable and maintainable way is not something that often gets talked about.

No, we don’t need 10000 thousand photos of your abs and butt to prove that you can transform someone.

 

There are loads of trainers who use science and research in their methods and who have a damn good body because of it.

However they

1: don’t feel the need to post about it every 5 seconds

2: often post to share information and value

3: are human, they talk about themselves their failures and their learnings

A good personal trainer does not have a look, they have skills and education, they are dedicated and compassionate, they know how to help someone grow and change.

If you are stuck and need a good one reach out to me, I can help you.

 

 

 


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Working in a gym and I often hear the conversations about shredding, bulking, leaning up and cutting daily. Clients and trainers talk about food, diets, calories, macros, weight and restriction constantly.

Trainers and clients celebrate dramatic weight loss without a question of how or why. High fives are given for double sessions and smash and grab training, reinforcing the idea that clients need to be leaving the gym barely able to walk after the session.

Yet on a weekly basis, I am having conversations in private with clients, trainers, and staff about their screwed up relationship with food, their bodies and themselves. This is not a mere few people struggling, this is more and more people on a weekly basis who are trying to get fit and healthy that have gone too far and is no longer healthy for their bodies or their minds.

Struggles include obsessive exercise, binging, fear of food, carbs and fat, obsessing over the scale or body fat percentage and spending hours comparing themselves to others both on social media and in real life.

These may seem like not such a big deal but these all-consuming thoughts can be absolutely debilitating to someone’s social life, ability to create healthy relationships, mental health and their belief in their own self-worth.

As someone who has been on the other side and worked as an Eating Disorder counsellor, I have spoken to hundreds of people who are struggling with this daily.  These thoughts and feelings do not just go away by themselves, it can take a lifetime to build back a healthy relationship with food exercise and yourself.

 

Why do we as health and fitness professionals need to know about this stuff?

Clients who are struggling with disordered eating are highly likely to be accessing a gym environment. As health fitness professionals we are in a unique position where we are trusted, we are relied upon for advice and we can create a safe place for clients to ask for support.

We are likely to see our clients regularly enough to be able to notice some of these concerning behaviours and to suggest someone gets help.

It’s important for trainers to look out for and recognize the warning signs when people are starting to develop negative thinking patterns around their food and body and know what to do about it.

A reminder that someone struggling with an eating disorder does not have a “look”.  What is important to realize is that someone struggling with their relationship with food or their body does not have to be underweight in fact most individuals are in the normal weight range. A sufferer can be any shape or size, male or female, young or old.

 

Giving nutrition guidance

Trainers without proper nutrition training should not be giving nutrition advice beyond their scope of practice.

The scope of practice does include behavioural based changes, eating more whole foods, 4-5 cups of vegetables, reducing processed and packaged food.

For the majority of our clients following these guidelines is enough to make a physical change.

But our clients want dramatic changes, they want to see abs and they want to see them now. So combined with pressure to “get results”, old fashioned information, trainers feel the pressure to encourage clients into more and more restrictive behaviours.

No one should be recommending extreme low-calorie diets,  cutting whole food groups, or severely restricting without any reason.

Similarly, trainers should not be encouraging clients to do the same diet they have done because it worked for them. Just because you lost 12 kgs on Keto does not mean your clients should be doing the same.

 

Red flags

One or two of these behaviours may not be a concern, but noticing more than three is worth exploring more with your client, or listening in to how they speak about themselves  when you speak with them.

 

Client’s behaviours’ you might notice

Going to the gym every day, sometimes twice per day without rest days.

Pushing through classes despite injury or sickness

Solely focused on an aesthetic goal or weight goal

Reduced socializing, withdrawal and isolation

Weighing themselves daily and the day is dictated by the number on the scale

Avoiding social situations totally due to not being able to eat off the menu

Spending hours weighing food and obsessing over calories or macros

Spending a lot of time in front of the mirror analyzing body fat

A lot of selfies and photos of abs, leanness on their social media stream

Spending a lot of time on social media comparing themselves with others

Compulsive exercising-such as running in 40-degree heat or in rain or storm conditions

Cannot take a rest day even when on holiday, or have a serious life event such a funeral or wedding that they don’t attend

Constantly cutting out food groups and then more cutting and cutting – no flour, no gluten, no sugar

Abusing laxatives or diet pills

Steroid or legal steroid use

Extreme weight fluctuations or rapid loss and regain cycling

 

Conversations or language clients may use

The negative way they speak about themselves, or inability to see efforts as a success

Labelling food as good or bad

Feeling guilty about missing a training session because they didn’t have a chance to burn calories

Constantly talking about how much better other people’s bodies are

Talking about feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment

The subtle signs in the way they talk about themselves as not good enough or useless

When they say consistently they hate their body

Feel that whatever they do it is not good enough

 

What can we do if we are concerned?

Be prepared with how you will open the conversation, don’t judge the behaviours or make comments on weight or appearance. Find a quiet place to talk, the gym floor at peak hour is not ideal. Invite your client to sit down with you after a session or grab a cup of coffee together.

Have some resources and referrals ready, even if the conversation is met with a brickwall you can provide your client with information to get support when they are ready.

 

Three conversation starters

Start by being curious and asking open-ended questions. All it takes is asking questions without judgement and creating a safe place for a response.  Even if you don’t feel you have the skills to start a conversation simply asking, “Is everything ok” and then listening can go a long way.

 

I’m hearing that you spend a lot of time comparing yourself to other people’s bodies, how does that make you feel when you’re spending a lot of time in that headspace?

 

I’m reflecting that it seems like it’s so hard for you to eat differently or eat more is that something that worries you?

 

How do you feel about the new changes you are making to your lifestyle, is this something that feels easy or is it stressful and taking up a lot of brain and thought space?

 

Wait and listen to their response.

These things will affect people differently, and for some, they won’t feel like what you’re noticing has much of an impact. However if your client says its feeling pretty stressful right now use this as an opportunity to suggest something that might feel less stressful using your professional judgement.

For others, it might be that they’re so stuck in it they don’t realize that it affects them negatively and this question gives them space to reflect on if it is a problem for them or not.

These kind of question gives your client an opportunity to reflect on how their actions can impact on their feelings, mood and daily life.  Your client may say I’ve never really thought about it, or they may say it makes me feel really horrible and I hate it.

From here you might be able to provide some resources or encourage them to speak with a counsellor or Eating Disorder support services.

You are not expected to be the counsellor but by knowing what is available you can point them in the right direction to get the support they deserve.

 

Where to refer

Ask them to speak with their GP to link them in with their local psychologist. Ideally, a psychologist who as training in eating disorders or body image concerns.

Ask them to make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist so that you two can work  together to create a better relationship with food, a non- diet or Eating disorder trained clinician is best.

 

The national Eating disorders service in Australia is:

Butterfly’s National Helpline:

Call 1800 33 4673,  webchat.

Open 8am – midnight AEST, seven days a week.

They can also link you in with a specialized provider in your area.

 

Where to from here

One of the biggest challenges for someone struggling with food or exercise is that it can take time to reach out for help. There’s a lot of fear and shame around these thoughts and behaviours.

Letting go of these behaviours can feel like a loss of control, a step backwards, and a return to what may have been a place where they felt very unhappy. As a trainer we can provide support and encouragement that seeking professional help whilst scary will be worth it in the long run.

If you notice somebody or if the somebody is yourself there is definitely help out there.

Just know that it isn’t always going to feel this way, that change is possible that you can build a healthy happy flexible relationship with food, with your body and yourself and that there is support out there.

 

If you are a Fitpro who wants to know more about helping your clients heal their relationship with food, exercise and their body subscribe to my  Mind Body Peace movement. 

Or join our online FB group


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You might have heard of this thing called orthorexia before, but what is it and why are we worried about it?

Orthorexia about an obsession with eating only healthy and clean foods. Orthorexia is a subsection of an Eating Disorder but it is currently not a diagnosable eating disorder as it is not listed in the DSM 5. However the longer these thoughts and behaviours are around the more likely  it is a diagnosable Eating Disorder will develop.

Orthorexia sits in the middle of the spectrum between healthy regular eating and up the other end an eating disorder, and somewhere in the middle of the spectrum is a whole lot of grey, or what can also be known as Disordered Eating.

 

Signs someone might be struggling

Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice

Noticeable increase in consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics

Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices, such that the someone may eventually consume fewer than 10 safe foods

Obsessive thoughts about the relationship between food choices and health concerns – digestive problems, low mood, anxiety or allergiesIrrational concern over food preparation techniques, especially washing of food or sterilization of utensils

 

What might lead to somebody having Orthorexia

In my experience as an Eating disorder counsellor Orthorexia most commonly begins with someone wanting to make changes to their diet to lose weight, for health reasons or reasons in line with their beliefs or ideologies eg- cutting out meat to support the environment.

What this triggers is distorted thinking about food leading to more and more food and foods groups being cut from a diet until someone is eating only from a very minimal range of items or foods.

 

My experience with Disordered Eating

I’ve done a couple of those eight-week challenges, bikini body king of things. I always do quite well because I am an A type and recovering perfectionist so I get really obsessed with things like that.

What is often part of those types of challenges is a very restrictive form of eating- cut carbs and eliminate dairy, as well as encouraging black and white thinking. Sugar is evil and only every brown food over white food.

When you spend a lot of time in that kind of environment and mindset these thoughts can become ingrained and part of your beliefs. Additionally, you start to believe that if you can restrict from the bad foods, you must be a good person. And indeed the more you restrict the better you are.

I found that my whole identity and worth was very much wrapped up in what I ate and how I ate. These thoughts are often very interlinked with feelings about our bodies and yourself. By eating the good foods we will remain lean and if we eat the bad foods we will gain body fat which is bad. Staying lean was the end goal no matter the cost.

I felt I was good for avoiding the office cake, and I felt wracked with guilt and shame if I ate some. I avoided social situations if I wasn’t sure there would be food I could eat, and I spent hours of my day thinking about food and what I was going to eat. Read more here.

What fuels these thougths

 

I have seen on Instagram lately influences really pushing #Cleaneating as a lifestyle and receiving likes and validation about their dedication and commitment, as well as comments on their body and leanness. This validation only fuels the cycle so that they feel forced to keep up this restrictive lifestyle and stay a certain body fat % even when their health might be falling apart.  You can read about the story of one vegan influencer who’s hair was falling out and period had stopped before she was able to reach out for help <the blonde vegan>

Thoughts around food and body image come from people’s fear or really kind of deep insecurities about their worth, their body shape or size, or feeling out of control in other areas of their life, which come out as a form of control around food.

 

Why don’t people get help

It’s very scary for someone who is experiencing that because it comes so all-consuming.The thought of trying to change these eating patterns can become very overwhelming and it feels like there is no way out. The fear of what may happen if “non-clean” foods are reintroduced often keep someone stuck in this eating pattern for a very long period of time.

What we know is the longer that they stay in these thought patterns, the longer that the harder these to break them.

To unpack these layers helps us to understand perhaps what we can do to help one another or what we can do if we see signs or symptoms for ourselves as well.

If you are struggling reach out to your GP, local Eating disorder support service or therapist.

If you are a fit-pro looking to learn more join the movement: Subscribe here, or join the MindBodyPeace FB group.


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We are surrounded by images of bodies every day, and we know that these images can impact and distort the feelings we have about our bodies and create feelings of unworthiness and dissatisfaction. But what about the messages we received from the ones closest to use, how do they show up?

On a daily basis, we are seeing up to 600 advertisements a day and 1000’s of images of bodies on social media. This forms in our mind a picture and messages about how we should look, what we should wear and what our bodies should look like.

These images are actually a representation of only 5% of the population with the average woman being a size 14 – 16. They promote feelings of dissatisfaction and unworthiness, mainly so you will go and buy whatever product that is being promoted.

But for some people these images don’t really seem to stick, they float by and slide off like Teflon, and for others, every image of a woman exposed is triggering.

It may have something to do with what they were exposed to as a young child, the messages from family, friends and their world around them.

The messages we receive when we are children are what shape our world view. They help us form part of our identity and our beliefs about the world, ourselves and others. The messages are mostly part of our subconscious thinking and our brain likes to make things easy, so we look for information that supports our world view, rather than challenges it.

This is great because we don’t have to process 1000’s of thoughts every day, however it can create somewhat of a mental filter where we look for information that supports our belief and dismiss information that challenges it. These beliefs are so subliminal it can be hard to unpack out where they are coming from.

Take a moment to stop and reflect what are the messages that we have about our bodies and where have they come from.

 

What is the first memory you can think of that was a message about your masculinity or femininity?

Was it a comment about being a pretty little girl? Or a big and tough boy?

Were you told that is a girl’s toy, or that only boys wear blue?

 

This sort of comment could have come from anyone, a family member, an uncle, grandma, grandpa, parents, sister, and teachers. When we are growing our own identity these role models create a lot of influence in our lives. We take their opinions seriously and take them on as our own.

 

 

What did you hear being spoken about bodies, your own and others?

Did family members shame or judge others fain gaining?

Was weight loss celebrate and commented on?

Were people commented on based on their hair colour, skin colour, height?

Do you remember messages about what a real woman should look like:

Not too big, not too curvy, not too small?

 

And what about comments about real men:

Tall dark and handsome, strong and fit, sporty, not too fat and not too skinny?

When I reflect back to my childhood these are some of the comments, conversations and messages that I can remember. These are some of the messages I remember.

 

It’s ok to be big as long as someone else is bigger than you

Fat people = lazy =lazy = bad

Girls should look after themselves, do their hair and make themselves look nice

Women should keep small, nothing worse than a large angry woman.

Men should be men and do manly things (whatever that means)

 

 

Maybe your mom told you when you’re a kid that you’re “always going to be this short and fat, it’s your genes”

Or your dad told you when you’re a kid that you aren’t going to be popular if you didn’t “grow your hair and wear makeup”

 

And when you received those messages from the ones you care about around you how did you fit in the picture? Did it make you wish you were someone else in a different body? Or did it make you feel tall and proud because you fit just nicely into that ideal?

Now I wonder just how often does this message show up for you in your life now?

 

Is this part of the way you see the world?

 

Is it something that pops up for you now and then, makes you feel shame, hollow inside or not enough. These are the sort of messages that we get told, that we internalize, that live in our unconscious mind.

As adults, we can fall into the old traps of reliving the feelings we felt comfortable in as a child.  Forever dieting and trying to be smaller because we were told women should keep themselves petite to be appealing for the opposite sex.

Feeling guilty when we don’t work out because real men are strong, capable and handy.

These messages are insidious. It is not until you can see them and recognize the impact they have on lives that we can let the possibility for change come in. We can recognize these messages as not necessarily our own, but ones we have inherited. It is then that we allow space for a new view, a new way of thinking,  a new filter to our world view.

 

Ask yourself why these statements could be TRUE rather than finding evidence to dismiss them.

What if you could be irresistible to the opposite sex just as you are?

What if you could be a strong and capable man just as you are?

What if you could be perfectly happy within in yourself, but also capable of change and growth into something more?

Is there a possibility you could see things differently, a possibility for seeing the world in a different light?

 

The first step you can take is just being aware of those messages. The inner dialogue that runs inside your head and makes you feel small or worthless.

Recognize how they are holding you back.

Start being able to challenge these thoughts with your own messages, your own feelings and thoughts about your body, about your self and about others.

Ask yourself what do YOU think, and when YOU answer listen in carefully.


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Learning to move your body in a regular, mindful and enjoyable way is fundamental to our physical and mental health.  Here are my top tips to fall in love with movement again.

 

  • Reset your mindset. We are surrounded by messages that fitness equals abs and it is very easy to start a fitness routine with an aesthetic goal. But exercise gives you many other benefits like reduced stress, reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, reduced likelihood of injury, increased heart and bone health. If you have only ever thought of exercise as a way to burn the calories or keep yourself, small start on working on shifting those thoughts to include all the health benefits.

 

  • Find a trainer, group or gym that is inclusive and supportive of everyone having access to exercise and health. You may have to look hard but being part of a group who have similar goals, to feel healthy without focusing on diets or restriction will give you the motivation to start and to keep going.

 

  • Learn to love your body for all the awesome things it can do! I highly recommend strength training as a way to see just how strong you can be, to feel empowered and to learn to love everything your body is capable. You may also fall in love with dancing, netball, soccer, running, bushwalking; the options are endless if you start experimenting.

 

  • Don’t do exercise because you feel like you have to. If you’re going for a run because you feel like you have to burn off what you ate you will end up hating exercise and food and the vicious cycle will never end. Instead seek out activities that you do enjoy and do more of them. Remember the things you did as a child that you enjoyed, or think about taking up a new hobby.

 

  • Be kind and compassionate to yourself. If you have had a chequered past with exercise it takes time to heal these wounds. Recognize where some of these thoughts may have come from in the past and notice when and where they come up for you again. Seek professional support or someone you can talk these feelings through with give yourself space for writing and processing. Understand that by letting go of some of these old thoughts you can make space for freedom both in movement and in your mind.

If you want to check out some other body positive personal trainers tips you can read the full article which was shared by Body matters here.

 

If you are searching for a trainer who can support you to love moving your body in a non-judgemental way, get in touch with me now.


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Is this really the best we can do?

This week I have had a number of people speak with me in private about how fitness has completely ruined their relationship with food and their body.

This saddens me, but also makes me very angry.

What makes me more upset is these clients could have been better supported so that the negative thoughts and behaviours that were consuming them were stopped before they got any worse.

What makes me angry is some of these disordered eating behaviours come directly from highly restrictive meal plans, weight-based 8-week challenges and exercise prescribed to “burn calories”

From my work in the field as an eating disorder counsellor, I know that the negative thoughts that can pop up in 8 weeks, can take a LIFE TIME to repair, to bring someone back to a place of neutrality around food and fitness.

If you are noticing any of these behaviours in yourself and recognizing that these behaviours are making you feel unhappy and worthless please re-consider.

Let me tell you if this is you, there is a better way, and you do not need to feel like this every day.

 

Weighing yourself daily and your mood being dictated by the number on the scale

Spending hours obsessing over calories or macros

Feeling guilty or avoiding social situations totally due to your food fears

Spending alot of time in front of the mirror analysing your body and body fat

Feeling guilty about missing a training session since you don’t have a chance to burn calories

Being distracted and not able to sleep because you are so hungry

 

So what can we do? Here are my suggested steps in the right direction.

Training facilities and trainers need to have a though screening and intake process assessing someone’s relationship with food particularly if they are going to be giving any sort of nutrition advice

Trainers need to understand the warning signs when people are starting to develop negative thinking patterns around their food and body. And secondly, they need to be ok to speak with their clients to ask them to take a step back or speak with someone who can help them.

We all need to understand that there is no “look” to someone who is struggling with their relationship with food. You cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at someone.

If this post brought up any challenging feelings for you, feel free to reach out to me

If you are a fit-pro who wants to level up your knowledge on building a healthy body image, join the Movement subscribe here or join the MindBodyPeace FB group.


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Integrating exercise or movement back into a routine when you’re recovering from an Eating Disorder can be challenging, here are my top tips to help you get started.

 

1. Start slow, and have a plan and stick to it. Work on integrating one movement session into your normal routine and feeling comfortable with that before building to the next one. Work out the time frame you want to exercise for – 45 mins to 1 hour and plan what you will do during this time.

Don’t start haphazardly as you’re more likely to overdo or under do it. After each session review and reflect on what feelings came up for you? If you have a support team share your feelings with them.

 

2. A lot of people have found Yoga to be very beneficial during Recovery. Yoga can help to quieten the mind whilst also bringing awareness to your body position, muscles and movements. It can be challenging to sit in silence but it gets easier with time and practice. If you can I would recommend adding yoga into your schedule once a week either in a class or there are many classes you can access online.

 

3. Don’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing, movement doesn’t have to be in a gym and it doesn’t have to be hot and sweaty. Think about movement as something that brings pleasure and fun and take the focus away from calories burnt.

Some activities that you might like to consider are trying a dance class, hip-hop, salsa, contemporary. If you can try something outdoors bushwalking, kayaking or SUP.

If you like sky high movement Ariel silks, acrobatics and even adult gymnastics are really fun options.

 

4. If you are thinking about going into a gym environment a group class can be a fun environment with music, choreography and a good social environment. They are time capped and classes usually go for 45 minutes or 1 hour.

It is important to be aware of your triggers, avoid classes that focus on calories burnt, heart rate monitors or competing against each other. Also be aware that some instructors will also use food or body shaming as ways to motivate clients, this is not okay, if this occurs I suggest you leave the class.

 

5. For resistance training, I highly recommend getting the support of a trainer who has an understanding of eating disorders. Resistance training is great for strengthening bones, muscles, ligaments and can help to make a mind-muscle connection which creates mindful movement.

Having a structured program can help you to track your progress and also keep you from feeling confused or overwhelmed by all the machines and weights. Growing in strength and feeling what your body can do over how it appears can be a wonderful part of recovery.

 

6. Ditch the fitness trackers and avoid spending too much time in the cardio area, the constant display of calories is not beneficial for anyone. The benefits of taking a walk outside in the fresh air include mental clarity, reduced stress and anxiety and improved focus. Set aside 30 minutes and see if you can focus on the smells, sights and sounds around you. There are also some mindfulness apps that focus on ‘mindful walking’.

For more tips from trainers all over Australia, you can read the full article here.

Have you downloaded my Free DIY resistance training program? 12 weeks of progressive training you can do from your living room.


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Are you a high achiever on the brink of collapse?

In my field of work as a counsellor and personal trainer, I am fascinated by high achievers, by A types, the seemingly successful, driven and ambitious men and women. I speak with them on a professional level, I listen to them speak on podcasts and at conferences, I have dated them, and in recent times I can admit becoming one of them.   They exist in many different environments, in fitness, in business, in competition, and politics or even in family life.

 

The one thing I have learnt in many conversations and my own personal relationships and experience’s is that this badge of achieving, which is carried with pride, can also become a troublesome and heavy burden to carry.

 Your identity becomes wrapped in the pursuit of more

I’ve noticed when these behaviours: drive and commitment, the relentless pursuit of gaols, the stop at nothing attitude become part of someone’s identity is when difficulties begin. The identity of being a high achiever, competitor or perhaps being the smartest or most successful becomes all consuming.

 

We know the types, corporate high achievers whose relationships take a back seat and consequently are completely falling apart.  Or the bodybuilders who are addicted to steroids because what they see in the mirror is never good enough.  And finally, the weekend warriors who punish and drive themselves relentlessly through injury and illness who never rest.

 

I can see where they are stuck, completely backed into a corner where they feel they have an image to uphold, that they need to show up with the air of success and having it all together. Slowly but surely this corner becomes one of high stress, high anxiety, and holding it together becomes impossible.

 

No matter how hard they go or how successful they are, it will never be enough.

 

On the outside all looks fine, the mask they show the world is happy and smiling.  Their social media stream looks picture perfect but behind the smile, the feelings of being overwhelmed and shame persist. These striving behaviours have become an identity and creating change feels impossible.

 

A 2-dimensional identity

This complete engross in a 2-dimensional identity of success makes admitting there may be a problem, talking about vulnerability and asking for help incredibly difficult.

Soon embarrassment and shame grow, and along with destructive ways of coping.

 

What if I stopped, what would others think of me?

What if I asked for help, would I be seen as weak?

How can I even begin to show up differently when so many others are relying on me?

 

Slowly but surely standards start to slip because perfect is impossible to maintain. Deep seeded fears bubble up and accumulate.  Overflow starts to happen and slowly but surely the walls begin to tumble and things start to get messy.

To stop listening to that voice that tells you every day you are not enough.  To stop chasing that validation and success that you will never find.

It takes awareness to recognize there is a problem, but courage to take action.

Receiving help

When the dust has settled and it comes time to receive help it can be harder still because the old way of bash, crash, push and grind is no longer working. After all, these methods of operating created this difficulty in the first place.

There is no greater strength than reaching out, than taking that first step, than wanting things to be different and having the courage to act on those thoughts.

Change takes time to readjust, to allow space for a new identity, to allow space for thoughts, feelings and difficult emotions, not just a 6 week turn around, but months or perhaps years.

It takes time for new pieces of the puzzle to be added to the sense of self, to shift the thinking from black and white to shades of grey.

To let go of the old way of functioning and embrace the new.

Learning to stop takes time.

Learning to lean into kindness and compassion for self can be hard. Once you start that journey of unpacking, unpeeling the layers and seeing yourself in different light things will start to shift. Your priorities, your values may change.

You don’t need to wait for the walls to come tumbling down, you can start to make changes now.

If any of the above resonates with you contact me today and learn more about my lifestyle coaching and personal training.