The other day a client said to me, ” I used to see the people with perfect bodies and feel jealous, but now I feel respect.” As summer approaches and clothing becomes smaller and less, the bodies we perceive as perfect are even more visible. Those of us still working on our weight loss goals can feel jealous and insecure and even feel like our efforts will never be enough. The interesting thing is, if those people who we think look perfect knew just how much work we have been doing and how far we have come, they would be right there with us cheering for us and supporting us and inspiring us. We do not know their story. We do not know what battles they have fought or are fighting. A thin, fit, toned body does not mean that everything else in their life is just as good. Many of those people have been overweight, even obese. Many of those people struggle every day with food choices and beat themselves up over it just like you and me. Most of them worked hard for the body they now proudly display. They do not deserve jealousy or judgement. They deserve our respect for what they have accomplished. If you have participated in the battle that is weight loss, you will know exactly what I mean.
Why do we feel like our battle with losing weight needs to be so private? For me, the answer lies in my career choice. Because of my job as a coach and trainer, I feel as though everyone expects me to be perfect since I am coaching and helping them reach their weight loss and fitness goals. The thing is, I am human just like you. I have had my fair share of trials and injuries and illness and I didn’t deal with them all as ideally as I would have liked, but I recognized my errors, and am working to repair the damage I did to my body, mind and spirit. I am embarrassed to be a fat trainer. That insecurity has been confirmed at appointments with doctors who are more than willing to attach any and all diagnosis’ to my weight. It has been confirmed in the shocked faces of someone I haven’t seen in a while and their lack of questions about what I have been up to as if they already know, because I am fat. I have seen the looks from other fitness professionals and felt the judgments of friends and strangers alike. I do not know for certain if all of these were perceptions due to my own insecurities or actual judgments, but the feeling of low self esteem and loss of confidence in my knowledge and skills as a fitness professional is very real.
I know I am a great trainer. I know that I have the knowledge base and skills to help anyone willing to be helped. I know that I love my job. There is no better feeling in the world than helping someone realize their own strength and potential and reach goals and take their life back. I also know that I am overweight and that impacts my entire life, but being overweight does not have to define me. I work every day to improve my health. I fight every workout to do a little more and push a little harder. I count calories and manage my nutrition with precision. I also go on vacations and splurge now and then. I have a piece of birthday cake at my family’s celebrations. I am not working only to create the best version of myself that I can, but to create the best version of myself that I can maintain and that allows me to enjoy all that life has to offer. I look around at all of the beautiful people in this world who are fighting a very real battle of their own and wonder if they feel judged.
I have been guilty of feeling jealous of that gorgeous, fit, toned, body by the pool. I have also learned to appreciate how different we all are and how much more beautiful the world is because of our differences. I have been that fit toned body and never really appreciated it. I am now working hard to get my fit body back, and I appreciate the progress I see every day in myself, in my clients, and in all of the people around me. My client was right. Those people who have the strong, fit, toned bodies we see as perfect do not deserve our jealousy but instead deserve our respect.