16yr ago I decided that I was going to make movement a part of my everyday life.
There was no expectation at the start. I just knew I wanted to move a little everyday.
I started by walking around and around our house once a day for 30min.
My body hurt for the first few weeks. My hips ached, and my legs throbbed. I wasn’t walking overly fast, just to my ability.
Everyday got a little bit easier, I hurt a little less after each passing week.
I noticed straight away how much better I felt mentally and after a month there were other benefits that were showing up.
After 6 months of consistent walking everyday my mental health benefited immensely. I gave up smoking and felt a sense of change and freedom.
I also began to grow in confidence feeling proud of sticking to this new-found movement.
My body changed too. My hips no longer ached, and my legs no longer throbbed. They felt stronger and more flexible.
I noticed taking the stairs up to our house became easier, getting in and out of the car became easier and little things like putting my socks and shoes on were a simpler task than previously.
My newfound confidence and self-belief lead me to join a gym!
I was also terrified but felt at ease with the trainer who had inducted me.
Another trainer told me she was going to show me my program. I remember looking at her and thinking WOW, you look SO strong and fit. She had lots of muscle definition and walked with a sense of purpose and confidence. It was infectious.
She asked me if I had every used weights before.
Of course, I said no and then proceeded to tell her I was Hella unco, so I hope she is patient!
Patient she was, and she showed me the program. I was to do that 2-3 days a week and pick a class I thought I might try and do that a couple times a week too.
I walked out with muscles that I never even knew I had, feeling worked but man was I PUMPED!!! I felt like I could conquer the world and wanted more of this feeling.
Weight training was fun and awesome, and I felt like a complete badass in with all the other strong women.
I went to a cardio class the next week after watching them the previous week while I was lifting my weights.
Want to know what happened next? Read on….
So most of you probably guessed what happened when I went to my first aerobics class.
I can’t even remember what it was called but resembled something along the lines of “Grit and HIIT”
It went something like this;
Turned up about 15min early and went to the ladies about 3 times because I was so nervous. Turns out the very first trainer who inducted me was the trainer who was taking that class. I felt a little at ease with that but still nervous as hell!
All the “fit” looking women started finding their spot in the room. I decided I was going to head up the back of the class preferring to be out of sight or, so I thought.
The music starts and the warm up commences. It was pretty easy, so far. I’m thinking, “yep, I got this in the bag. Look at me go!!”
Somewhere along the lines the warm up finished and the class started. The music got louder, the women got more pumped up and we were away!!
Well….I am not the most co-ordinated person, I acknowledge that however I could not for the life of me keep up. When everyone was going right, I was going left and when everyone was standing still, I was trying to catch the hell up without falling flat on my face. And one more time leffffftttttttt as the instructor uses her right arm for us to go left and off I went riggggghhhhhhttt and smack bang into this “‘fit” woman. I almost took her down and tripped over myself, apologised profusely and started giggling uncontrollably. As I look up at the instructor she is holding back laughter while shaking her head staring right at me!!!! I was SOOOO embarrassed and when the class finished I got out of there ASAP!
I never did another group fitness class at that gym again.
I went for another 6months or so going in and doing my weights program.
I can laugh about it now as it is years later, but it still haunts me to this day.
As a trainer who takes group fitness classes, guess what? I NEVER choreograph them to music (except maybe the odd beat on the spin bike) because I know how it feels to not be able to stay on the beat or keep up.
So, after sticking with weights at that gym for a while I fell pregnant with my daughter.
I was so scared to be pregnant again as my son’s pregnancy, birth and beyond were a struggle.
I decided I would continue with my then “weight loss and strength” journey throughout my pregnancy.
What I didn’t plan for was the morning sickness. I was SO sick for the first 14 weeks with her that I could hardly move without vomiting and could not eat a thing, with the exception of ginger biscuits and KFC or Red Rooster hot chips. That was all I could stomach for 14 weeks.
I lost 6kg in that time and remember feeling a sense of satisfaction because of it. (ridiculous I know but I am being totally authentic here)
Fast forward to her birth and all went really well. Nothing like my first pregnancy or birth.
I took my huge almost 9pound baby girl home and was determined to continue on with my health kick.
Straight back into it! No resting, I had work to do on this body and my god it was going to conform.
Little did I know that 6months after my daughter was born.
Little did I know 6 months after the birth of my baby girl I would be battling some significant health concerns which would lead to questioning everything about who I am, anguish, courage, surgery, growth and change. This would take many years.
Early 2006 I went to the skin doctor for my annual check-up. He was checking my scalp when he exclaimed that I was losing hair like an 80-year-old woman and I best get some good quality vitamins. I did as he asked but my hair just continued to fall out.
I continued on my body transformation trying everything to get it to conform to my ideal weight. I ate exceptionally clean and pride myself on being very healthy and strong. I was exercising every day, sometimes twice a day making sure I broke out into a good sweat and felt depleted afterwards.
On the outside my life looked great. People would comment and say how disciplined I was and how amazing I looked. They commented on my weight loss and told me I was amazing. I felt a sense of absolute pride and satisfaction.
The inside painted a completely different story. I was constantly tired, my brain was foggy, I was aching all over, my hair was still falling out, my body breaking down, my moods would swing wildly, and I was always cold.
I remember taking myself off to the doctor every year or so to get tested for thyroid disease as it is in my family. The same thing came back every time. I was fine, my iron was low but everything else was great. I was a picture of health according to my GP.
Eat some red meat and it is expected that you be so tired you are a young mum, she would say.
So, I continued thinking that these were the sacrifices I had to just put up with to be thin. I was otherwise fit and healthy, so I just needed to suck it up and get on with it. Being smaller was my big picture goal.
Each step on the scale was a record of how well I was doing. Each step there was a new goal to reach.
When was I going to be happy with the results?
This exhaustive process of trying to get my body to conform to the smaller ideal went on for YEARS.
Fast forward to 2009. I had a little scare where I was getting heart palpitations and feeling dizzy.
I again visited my GP and she tested my heart via an ECG and took bloods again.
While I was there I told her about my ever-increasing blood loss at each period and how I was concerned about the amount of blood I was losing.
Everything again came back as normal with the exception of my iron was a little low…..again.
Doctor; Again, eat red meat. You are fit and healthy, your heart is in tip top shape and those fitness classes you are taking are working for you. Keep at it.
As far as the periods go, well you are getting older (I was 37) these things happen when we age. I wouldn’t worry.
I was dismissed YET AGAIN.
Why didn’t I question this? Because I was so wrapped up in the fact that I was the fittest and healthiest (so I thought) I had ever been in my life and that was all I was consumed with. I was blind to anything else, including my declining mental, emotional and physical health.
I was at this stage the smallest I had ever been but even though the number on the scales read that, I still thought I was fat and fat is bad, right? 😳.
I was not happy with what reflected back at me.
Was I ever going to be?
Trigger warning, diet, restriction, disordered eating/exercise, periods.
From 2009 to 2013 I fell deeper and deeper into restricting foods, exercising ridiculously and trying to get smaller.
My whole life was planned around “healthy” foods, when I was going to the gym, what I was doing at the gym, measuring and weighing myself and anything I ate.
To be honest I was totally obsessed and then I decided I wanted to become a personal trainer. Because I had all the knowledge and all the right answers for everybody, right? Wrong…..So, so wrong…..
I graduated early 2013 and opened MEE Personal Training. And what a complete ride it has been to now!!
Funnily enough me becoming a PT was the catalyst for change I needed and where my disorders came to a head which lead me to seek the help I needed.
As I was coaching that year and learning at the rate of knots, I saw so many women in so much pain, hurt, anger and emotional turmoil over their bodies. I related so much to their angst and really wanted to help them feel better about themselves.
At the time I was also getting help for my own disorder and working through everything that came with that.
I didn’t want the women who came to me to suffer any further so the way I trained and coached changed.
I stumbled across this whole new world of fitness one day. Fitness without the fitspo and go hard or go home messaging. One of inclusivity, acceptance, community and body positivity. This!! This was where I fit in. This was what I personally was looking for and what I wanted for my clients.
*Sure, if you look back on my really early posts you will see the usual fitspo side by side photos of before and after, yet I don’t wish to hide/delete them as they tell a story of complete transparency, vulnerability, growth and change*
This is what lead me to eventually rebrand to MEE Active and continue to where I am today.
All of the above also helped me to find space to seek answers for heavy periods and other health issues.
Because I was no longer focussing on controlling my diet, controlling my exercise, controlling my weight and being “perfect” I had space to really start the journey to healing the other lingering health issues.
This has been a MASSIVE journey of SELF for me.
I have opened up, told my story and shown vulnerability to hopefully help other women reading that it is ok to reach out, it is ok to start healing and it is ok to seek the medical help you require.
And my overall message to you:
You are amazing and enough just as you are.
If you would like to join me in my private fb community where we discuss all this and more click the link here; https://www.facebook.com/groups/1931555433788865/