Are you someone who looks at others and wishes you could have some small part of their life? Do you come up with excuses as to why they possess that particular trait or lifestyle and you don’t? We often time think that the others are born with better genetics, have more money, aren’t as busy, are cheating, or are simply fake in the lives and bodies they present on social media.
Some people surly are liars and cheats. With things like synthol, PED abuse, photoshop, angles/ lighting in photos, filters, censorship, credit cards, plastic surgery, pharmaceutical abuse, etc. It can be really easy for us to start to feel a little less valuable when we see someone who seems to be excelling at something that we are working so hard to achieve.
I too get tired and frustrated at all the theatrics we use to present ourselves in a altered appearance. So I wanted to bring my story to you. I think if you know where I am coming from, and see that we are more alike than we are different, then you will hopefully find comfort and understanding.
“Be the change you want to see in the world” -Gandhi
I don’t think my story is anything special or particularly inspiring. However, it is a common one that many people can relate to. Small talk conversations with strangers on the airplane always bring up the question of “How did I get into personal training and strength coaching?”. I guess you could say it all started before I even existed.
I am lucky enough to have parents who were physically active growing up. They both participated in track and field in high school. On top of that, my mother enjoyed hiking, tennis, and skiing. My father played basketball and lifted weights for fun. To this day my dad still enjoys to run, and my mom can easily handle major landscaping projects that most women would hire out. (She is a true strongwoman)
Some of my earliest memories were that of my younger brothers and myself sitting in our basement watching our father work out in his 1990’s home gym. We had a mini trampoline, a small bench that had attachments for leg extensions, preacher curls, and leg curls. The weight room also ironically had a boom box that played tape cassettes. I remember two of them as the favorites; the Rocky Balboa soundtrack, and Top Gun.
Those early memories were mostly of my father because he would show off and make us cheer him on in exuberance. After all, no man alive could possibly be more fit and strong than my dad?!?! I remember my dad flexing his biceps for me and my brothers, the three of us would applaud and cheer him on. He was the coolest person I could think of. I wanted to be just like him one day. The funny thing was, it was really my mother who used the weight room most often. Her workouts did not turn into a performance for me and my brothers, so they did not leave the same impression on my young mind. Either way, my brothers and I grew up knowing what the gym was, and with a desire to be strong like our parents.
I was never the fastest, most coordinated, or favorite kid on the playground for pick up games. I prefered to sit in a pile of dirt and watch the grass grow, rather than getting hit in the face playing tetherball or tag against the other children who were physically superior to me. To say I hated sports was an understatement. I remember crying to my 4th grade teacher begging for her to let me stay inside and alphabetize her bookshelf rather than being forced to go outside and play with the other kids. I grew up more sedentary than my peers and I found a lot of comfort in nature and reading books. This could have been the beginning of the story of an obese child who grew up to be an obese adult, but that wasn’t in the cards for me.
I never had a weight problem, despite eating adult portions most meals. In fact I had quite the opposite problem. Long gangly limbs paired with a body so lean I often would wear baggy clothes. If the clothes fit my circumference properly, I had the problem of jeans being too short and wearing crop tops instead of t shirts. Kids would tease me for my clothes, my skinny frame, and my poor coordination. To this day I still feel insecure running around people.
Physically I was never gifted with athleticism or muscular genetics. I was a skinny, fairy sedentary kid who didn’t like playing games with other kids. It really is a wonder I didn’t get obese, I have my mother to thank for that. I don’t know how old I was, but at some point in my childhood I started getting really interested in candy. My mother in her infinite wisdom, decided that instead of just telling me no. She had me research and write a short report on diabetes! I for a short time after that I went around the playground like I was the diabetes police. Warning other kids that if they ate those Skittles, they would die. This did nothing to help my cause of being the awkward outcast. Yet it did help me learn early on that just because everyone else is doing something, that does not make it good for you.
That led to my little political crusade in 4th grade. I campaigned at the State Capital for the Onion to be our state vegetable instead of the sugar beet. I won! That is a story for a whole other post though.
I tried my hand at a few sports growing up. My experience with gymnastics and dance is now a topic sure to bring about a roar of laughter from my family at the dinner table. Swimming and horseback riding were two I found I enjoyed because I saw myself progress with them.
Come middle school I was still awkward and was dreading gym class. Yet I was bound and determined to do my best at every task. I was more concerned with following what my teacher said rather than being cool. (Since the option of being cool was already a lost cause). So when the gym teacher said we were going to run laps for 5 minutes, I actually did. Despite my fear and poor coordination, I ran my little heart out. My female peers opted to walk in packs of two or three so they could socialize. I did not quite realize this until I reflected back as an adult, but I thought I was actually better at running than the other kids! Finally I found something I was good at! (or so I thought) So I poured myself into running in that gym class, day after day. I would run faster and faster as the months went by, sometimes even passing the boys! Few others were really even trying, most kids were actually walking or shuffling, but in my mind I was a demigod with wings on my ankles. I felt so powerful and confident in that class. I don’t remember much from middle school, but I do remember that gym class.
There were a few times later in the year where some of the girls would try to run with me. One girl said something like “You are inspiring and I hope that by running with you I can lose weight.” I don’t remember how that ended, but that might have been my first time filling the role of “trainer”. I remember the confidence I felt from running, I remember the feeling of empowerment when I realized I didn’t need to be liked by the other kids to feel good. Little did I know, that these early experiences would so powerfully shape my life.
Stay tuned for my story part 2, Discovery. About the middle pages in my story of life so far and the early development of my career.