MoMondays

My talk from MoMondays – February 20th, 2017:

A little bit of backstory – for several years, I’ve struggled with self-esteem issues.  I’ve done a LOT of work on myself, making a conscious effort to become more confident, more mentally strong, and to get out of my shell.

A year ago, I decided I wanted to do a fitness competition…the one where I’d need to get super skinny and ripped, and then pose on stage in a blingy bikini.  I had been wanting to for a couple years, ever since I became more exposed to the fitness industry, and a year ago is when I finally felt mentally ready.

Going into it, I knew it would be intense and would take a lot of hard work and discipline…but I did not expect to be faced with the challenges that came up for me.

So this is how it went down:

I committed last February (2016), for the competition coming up this March (2017).  For the first several months, I was hitting the gym regularly and cleaning up my diet.  Then life happened, I let myself get distracted from my goals, and very gradually I started losing progress.  In October, I started to binge eat everyday, far past the point of feeling full, and I was in complete denial of it.  How I saw it was that I was still meal prepping regularly so my main meals were healthy… but I ignored the fact that I was munching on cookies and chips and noodles and perogies late at night.  Over the next few months, I continued to gain weight and by December, I realized that I was too far off track to compete in March without it being an incredibly stressful and unenjoyable experience.  On December 31st, I made the official decision to not compete anymore.  I realized it was going against all the things I promote on my blog…like well-being, happiness, and self-care… The competition was no longer important to me.  My health and happiness were.

Unfortunately, my rough patch didn’t end there.  The restrictive diet and intense training got the best of me and I started to have minor health issues and major emotional struggles.  It wasn’t just the fact that I gained weight nor the fact that I couldn’t fit a lot of my clothes anymore (though that part was frustrating too), but I started to feel different.  

  • My energy was low and I started to depend on coffee.  I never used to drink coffee.
  • My gut health and digestion went downhill.  After every meal, no matter what I ate, my stomach would balloon out and feel very uncomfortable.
  • I became insecure again.  All that self-esteem that I had worked so hard to build up over the past several years was gone.  It wasn’t all just about the physical aspect, but I felt insecure about my credibility…as a Health & Fitness Blogger, a Wellness Coordinator at my work, and a Personal Trainer in the making.
  • I just didn’t feel truly happy, and it affected how I went about my days, my weeks, my months.  I would have moments of depression.  I found myself crying out of nowhere, just because I was so tired and frustrated for feeling the way I felt.
  • My entire body became super tense from the anxiety, limiting my flexibility and certain movements, and then I started to have issues with my back and shoulder, preventing me from training.

To try and remedy all of this I was seeing my counsellor, naturopath, dietitian, chiro, RMT, physio…I was going in for acupuncture, cupping, and IV therapy…I tried taking time off the gym to let my body rest… all of this helped a LITTLE bit, but it was mostly a very tiring process having several appointments a week with no sure answer of what was wrong or what I could do to get me feeling back to normal.

It’s only in the last couple of weeks that I have started to feel progress, perhaps because I really wanted to have something inspiring and insightful to share tonight.  

  • I started counting calories for the first time ever, using MyFitnessPal app, and it’s made me aware of how much overeating I was doing.  
  • My chiro also started doing Active Release Therapy on me, to help with the scar tissue that built up from weight training.
  • I’ve been doing everything I can to alleviate any stress or anxiety – like meditating, writing in my daily gratitude journal, going to yoga, practicing deep breathing, running my diffuser with essential oils, and other “herbal” remedies.
  • I’ve been making a conscious effort to be gentle with myself, to be patient and kind and avoid any negative self-talk that I have been SO good at in the past.
  • I’ve been seeing my counsellor and at my last appointment, she said something that really resonated with me, actually, it kind of blew my mind.  She said to continue to workout regularly and focus on making myself feel good and enjoy the workout…rather than exercise to try and lose weight.  Instantly, I was excited to hit the gym.  A couple days later while I was studying my Personal Training textbook, I read to model positive reasons for exercising (feeling good, improving health and fitness level) rather than for negative reasons (looking good, losing weight) because that tells clients that they aren’t good enough…and that’s exactly what I was doing to myself.  When I was trying to get my weight back down to where I was before, I was only focussing on that, rather than enjoying my workouts like I used to, and that is why my progress suffered and my stress increased.

So that is basically what my health and fitness journey has been about for the past year, and honestly, I was hoping I’d have my shit together prior to this evening, but it’s still a work in progress…and that’s okay!  Through this experience, I learned how important self-compassion is.  It makes all the difference in the world when I’m nice to myself, rather than filling my head with negative self-talk all day long.

As tiring as this process has been, and as much as I just wanted to give up, I knew that it was happening to me for a reason…because really, EVERYTHING happens for a reason.  I have learned something every single day, whether it be about myself, the way my body works, the health and fitness industry… and what kept me going was my WHY. I so strongly believe that health and fitness changes lives for the better, in more than just a physical way, and I believe that my soul purpose is to inspire others to lead a fulfilling, happy life through health and fitness.  When I start to feel frustrated for falling off track with my goals, I remind myself that everything I learned from my experience over the past year will benefit those around me and my future clients.  I’ve now experienced some mental and physical challenges, and can help them prevent or conquer similar challenges that come their way.

I am super excited to feel healthy and strong again, inside and out. I am super excited to get past my anxiety. And I am super excited to inspire others and be a role model for them.

And I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all my friends and family who have been there to support me tonight and throughout my journey. I am ridiculously blessed to have you all in my life, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you are interested in sharing your story at a MoMondays event in Vancouver, let me know and I’ll get you touch with the organizer 🙂 These are real stories by real people – the more vulnerable you let yourself be, the more you can inspire others.

xo,
Sheena

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