I’ve learned in my experiences that the nature of change is dynamic. Personally, over the years, I’ve made many changes; and something of value has accompanied every one of them. Therefore, I view change as a process with no end; but many opportunities for growth. I am honored to serve my clients in their process of change in their lives, to help them to uncover their healthiest selves.
My journey to wellness has taken a shift in my own behaviors and thinking processes. I’ve transitioned from black and white, all or nothing thinking, and quick fix strategies to sustainable behaviors grounded in loving my body, myself, and my health instead of destroying them.
I did all the insane high intensity workouts, the 21 or 30 day fixes, magazine programs, popular exercise and weight lifting DVDs, running until I was a physical fraction of my former self. None of it made me feel complete or good. I would always find myself back looking for comfort in food binges. The exercise I was doing was not serving my body well. It wasn’t building strength, or adding muscle, and after a while it felt more like a prison sentence than an activity for my health. Sure I was “skinny”; but I now question why we, as women, think it’s a good goal to want to get as small in the world as possible.
Looking back at my old pictures now with a trained eye, it was obvious why I ended up with so much hip and leg tightness/ pain, shoulder and neck pain. I had added all this intense exercise on to a 40+ post-partum body. I had a very weak anterior core from not ever doing foundational strength training, and also carrying and birthing 3 girls. My hips were weak and unstable from running and then driving home those compensatory patterns by lifting weights improperly. My shoulders were unstable, and like the majority of gym goers I see exercising by themselves without a knowledge base; I took my regular posture and instability and built shoulder and neck pain.
This was 6 months after my second daughter was born. My weight peaked at 210 pounds.
I couldn't walk for the last month of her pregnancy, due to gaining too much weight in the previous and then this pregnancy. Pregnancy was a license to eat for three years and I didn't exercise.
I didn't realize at the time how unhealthy I was - I just remember what a struggle it was to move.
After my third daughter was born I decided to "whip myself into shape" I lost 80 pounds in a year. Running everyday, and doing every DVD on the market I could find. This was the start of the breakdown of my body.
You can see my right shoulder was internally rotated. My pelvis was also rotated which caused sciatica pain in my hip and leg. Since I only worked from a few centres of my body, like most people who haven't been shown proper exercise posture, I began to look hunched over. It's a common posture that people who run excessively and don't balance with strength training, end up with.
Notice how far forward of my body my spine is. This can become a typical posture for some women who exercise a lot without good spinal control. The hips and upper back lose mobility, and the spine moves excessively. I was doing "body building" which encouraged exercising with an anteriorly tilted pelvis.
By this time I had the previous mentioned pain, postural deviations in my pelvis, TL joint, and shoulders, shoulder and neck pain.
I had gained a foundational level of strength by this time, so the majority of my pain was resolved. Neck pain persisted for quite a while though.
I still had some postural issues - rotational, one shoulder more elevated than the other. Because of all the running and cardio style weight training that I had done, I had lost a lot of muscle mass. All of that type of exercise caused adaptations.
It took consistent work to change the postural deviations that running and improper exercise created. My programming was specific to continuing to increase overall strength and muscle mass, until I look like I do today.
Now. I have maintained the same level of body fat as the other pictures (18 percent) but I have gained over 10 pounds of muscle. You can see the difference especially in my hips, glutes and back. I have full mobility in my hips and upper back, and my core and hips are strong. I can lift up to 1 1/2 times my body weight. Best of all, I am pain free. My program is a balance of lifting weights for strength and muscle growth 3 to 5 hours a week, and 30 minutes of steady state aerobic activity 3 times a week.
Also, please compare this picture to the above pictures to see how my alignment has changed. My spine is in a neutral position now, and is being supported by my core musculature.
This may all sound really terrible, but there actually was a silver lining. I’m a firm believer that there is a reason for everything. My own journey led me to focus my studies on post- rehab and foundational strength training. I have spent years learning, both from book and practical knowledge in education, as well as in healing my own body, and training others who have come to me with their own issues.
I now absolutely love lifting weights. It is my passion. I no longer restrict, punish with exercise, quit and restart, and binge eat. My focus is on fueling my body so that I am able to lift the challenging weights. I am pain free and move without restriction. I can do any activity I chose, with ease. I also no longer spend hours upon hours a week exercising with a goal to stay thin. Lifting weights done properly only requires a few hours a week. That leaves me much more time to enjoy my family and career life. How I look is now a non-issue, and has been for years.
Lifting weights with a purpose, gives a tangible evidence of success. Weight training progressively is an achievement that is measured in the progression of the lifts. A program booklet tells a story of how much is gained, over the course of time. So does the dramatic change in strength and definition.
Properly programmed weight training for strength and conditioning results in a healthy, truly fit body and a lifestyle that promotes accountability in all aspects of life. Achieving proficiency in strength work also transfers onto other areas of life. Physical achievement is far more meaningful than “losing X amount of pounds”. The confidence gained from being able to transform the body, and take on greater skill levels, also transforms the way we view ourselves. No matter what the challenge ... it can be done with a good plan, support, and knowing that we are achieving because we are capable. We are worth creating whatever it is that we desire. There is just so much to be gained when we focus on taking care of ourselves, instead of tearing ourselves down.
245 pound deadlift from floor.
6 reps of 135 pound back squat