This weekend when I was reading Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts, 2 passages in the memoir really stuck with me…
“Let your passion be your purpose”
“Make your mess your message”
Think about that for a minute. Small statements, brief and to the point. But implementing those 2 sentences can be scary and overwhelming. And applying both of them when they intertwine with each other is terrifying. So what do you do when your passion is also your mess?
Health, fitness and living an active lifestyle is my passion. I love the way I feel when I get my heart rate up, feel the burn in my muscles and reach goals that I set for my body. It’s empowering and makes me feel alive! And that is why I made my passion my purpose when I became a personal trainer. The amazement I felt when I saw my body do the things it did when I challenged it was something I wanted to see in others. Being a part of people making healthy choices and being active wasn’t a “job” to me. It was like being witness to something magical. Clients seeing changes, their body doing activities that they thought they couldn’t and the new sense of pride and appreciation for a body that has always been there, they just didn’t know it. My passion for health and fitness is MY purpose. It’s a part of my life every single day. Between training myself, training clients, talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it, hell, even dreaming about it (yes – I do dream of new way to torture my clients) – I AM LIVING MY PASSION.
Now, enter the “mess”. Everybody has something. Family drama, health issues, addictions, whatever. We all have some sort of mess in our life like it or not. So, we can hide from it or we can bring it out in the open and talk about it. Sometimes just the act of talking about it, the mess becomes less scary. And sometimes your message reaches someone else who needed to hear it. And that is why I am making my mess my message.
Over the past few months, I have been dealing with a few of life’s surprises that have added a lot of stress to my plate. I will go into more of this in to detail in the upcoming posts, but my life feels out of control. Anxiety, PTSD, family illness – just to name a few – have become stressors in my life that have made me feel like I have no control over. As someone who needs a sense of control, this has really thrown me for a loop. So I turned to the only thing that I knew I could control to help me deal with the stress – working out. At first it worked. Having a panic attack? Go for a run. Argument with the husband? Go to the gym and lift. More bad news about a sick relative? Add a few intervals during cardio. Soon I noticed I was running 12 miles at a time, lifting for 2 hours, doing 60 minutes of serious intervals and eliminating rest days all together wasn’t enough to keep the stress away. It was just adding more stress. I knew I couldn’t do 4 hour workouts every day, so I did the next thing I knew to keep some sort of “control” in my life. I started regulating my food intake. And again – it just added more stress. I stayed in this holding pattern of being exhausted, over-trained, under nourished and mentally beat up for months. I knew what I was doing was destroying my body and my metabolism but it was the only way I knew how to have some control over the stress. I was ashamed and I was scared. How do I get myself out of this cycle and get back to a healthy balance without totally destroying my body?
On the weekend of July 18th, I got my answer in the form of 52 very STRONG women. I attended STRONGCAMP in Minneapolis with the intention of getting great workout ideas, having a few laughs and get to meet some cool people. What I got was a life changing experience. (I have an upcoming STRONGCAMP post – so you will get the awesome details there) When I was there, I finally realized that taking on all of this stress and beating my body up because of it wasn’t doing anything for me except leaving me exhausted and broken. Seriously – is running 5 extra miles going to make my bills go away? Will adding on 5 extra sets eliminate make my father in law better? Can living on 1700 calories a day make my panic attacks go away. THE ANSWER IS NO!
When I got home from STRONGCAMP I was angry at myself for what I had done to my body. But instead of turning to my old habits, I called texted my Coach before I REALLY had time to think about it and chicken out. I told him what I had been doing and that I needed his help to get back on the right track. To my surprise, he wasn’t angry, disappointed (the WORST word you can EVER hear) or even irritated. He was compassionate, caring and most of all, concerned. After a LONG talk, a game plan and a few tears, I knew I was in the right place (mentally) at the right time (NOW) to make the change. I know I have work to do to get back to a healthy balance with working out and heal my metabolism, but I am ready for it.
With all of that being said – here is the message I want everyone to get out of my mess. Ladies, gentleman, boys, girls, whoever: Quit beating your body up over stress. Whether it be the stress of money, love, life lost, being thin, being ripped, being “beautiful” in societies eyes, or as a means to getting rid of stress. It’s not worth it. Taking out issues on your body is only going to add more problems to the list. Try to find balance within your life. It’s hard and I am the first one to admit that. But by asking for help of putting your “mess” out there, you may find a way to get through it in a healthy way.