Big Is Not Beautiful.
Here’s the deal, big is simply put, not beautiful. No matter what the thought police try and sell you, no matter how sweet and kind that person, he or she, may be, when it comes down to facts, being overweight is killing you. There is no fat but fit; that’s a myth. Now before you run screaming for antifa to come burn my house down for fat shaming, actually read what I am saying. I don’t hate fat people. In fact, I don’t hate anyone. I find hate is usually self reflective. The hate we direct outwards is typically a sign of our own inner struggle.
As a trainer and an athlete, seeing people who are overweight makes me sad. I see squandered potential, a slew of health issues, early death, and friends and family suffering...much like that of a drug addict. Poor choices, like anything in life, have consequences. Being fat is one of those choices we make, no, it’s not your genetics, that will kill you. While there are genetic markers that make us predisposed to storing fat, it takes work and calories to become fat. Put down the snickers and go for a walk.
As I’ve come out of my several year hiatus as a trainer, I have been taking on more and more clients. One of my new clients is severely obese. She is depressed, she is self loathing, and she tends to tear herself apart more often than she builds herself up.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t hate fat people, in fact, working with overweight people is one of the great joys of being a trainer. We offer them an avenue for self empowerment and as they see the changes being made in their appearance, their health, their attitude, we get to be a part of that. We get to see the smiles over take the frowns and tears and we get to see the hopeless attitude turn into one of, “let me do just one more” as they climb several flights of stairs where before they couldn’t do it at all.
Once I started working with her, I asked what she liked, what she didn’t like, what her goals were and what her fears were. We got to know each other and I learned of her frustrations with other trainers who took her money and had her stretching or using resistance bands for her workouts. She left angry, confused, and feeling a little more than taken advantage of.
When she came to me, she was at an end. She was ready to give up. “They won’t let me squat or use the bar and I really want to train like those figure girls!” She was aware that this would take years of work, skin removal surgeries, and a serious curb on her eating habits, but it’s what she wanted.
I took her over to a bench and asked her to sit down. She did. iI asked her to get up, and she did. I asker her a few more times to sit down and get up, and she did. I asked her how her knees felt and she said they were fine. Apparently no one else had considered starting her from a box or a bench. I made some minor modifications so her stance and put a 12lb body bar on her back and asked her to squat that for a few reps. She did.
As we continued this session, I noticed a shift in her face. The frustration and fear that she couldn’t had been replaced with excitement and the knowledge that she could.
After a few sets with the body bar, I moved her bench into the squat rack and put the bar on her back. I could see the nervousness in her eyes. I placed my hands on her shoulders and reassured her that I was with her, she was safe and she could do it. She squat. She squat and continued to squat until she had done several sets of 10 with the bar, something she was told she couldn’t do and believed.
We continued her workout and by the end we were both laughing and sweating.
Before she left, she asked if she could change her evening session over to work with me again. I of course, acquiesced.
When she came back that evening, we went over her game plan. The next obstacle was stairs. We have a double flight outside of the facility, each of which is 12 stairs each. I warmed her up and got a sweat going and walked her right out the door and towards the stairs. She looked at me scared…”I can’t..” she started. I took her hand and said, “you can!”
For the first time in years, she walked the stairs.
She got almost to the top and started panicking. I told her to look at me and I breathed with her. She calmed down and took the final 4 steps. We had a celebratory fist bump and then we did it again, and again, and again until she had successfully climbed both flights, without stopping, six times.
We went back inside and finished her workout, chatted some more and as she was walking out she turned around with tears in her eyes and said, “thank you!” “I hated myself up until this moment and now I know I can do it!” She gave me a big sweaty hug and I fought back the tears of joy I felt for her. I gave her a quick fist bump and told her to get out because I was hungry. She laughed and waved and drove off signing.
It’s people like her, moments like these that keep me driven in the business. I love lifting but that’s my thing. Seeing people feel empowered because they know they have the power in their own hands, to get up and do the work and change things, that’s life affirming for me as well.
We all have a chance to make a difference in our lives and in someone else’s but we never will if we are sedentary. Get up, get out, do something, anything, and take charge of your life. One walk can turn into one hike and one hike can turn into a lifetime of fun and experience. Twinkies won’t give you that. Stop making excuses and start making decisions.
Don’t get me wrong. I make just as many excuses as the next person and I don’t always have the greatest self talk either but when I get over myself and get my ass out there and engage with the world, with my body, with anything aside from TV and a bag of chips, I feel 100x better and I know you will too.