Some people go to dinner with me and feel uncomfortable with what I order. Some are surprised and gasp, “You eat that?” Some love running into me at the grocery store and while chatting with me, casually eye my cart to see what I buy. Others are constantly watching my weight to see if I am gaining or “losing even more”. Some love to talk about it positively and cheer me on, and others wait for me to burn out, fall off the wagon, or just give up.
Changing your lifestyle is NEVER EASY. Never. Ever. If you follow any type of fitness professional on social media, they will tell you the same thing. Once you choose a healthy lifestyle, be prepared to feel ostracized, left out, and lonely. At first. It won’t last forever. Remember that old saying, “Birds of a feather flock together?” Yep, it’s true, even in health.
You see, I used to drink. I used to binge eat. I also used to weigh 98lbs well into my 20’s after two kids and never worried about my weight. A diet was the last thing that would have ever applied to me. THEN, divorce, a job change, and a desk job with a break room of available junk food happened. Give me a few years and by the end of my 20’s going into my early 30’s, fifty pounds happened. I really don’t even know how it happened, but it did. No one said anything really, maybe I carried it well, but on a frame of 5’3, I am not sure how I did. OR, it was the whole birds of a feather flock together, and no matter how big I got, if I was still doing what the masses did, no one cared. Want to know why? My weight gain didn’t bring any attention to them. As long as I continued to eat what they did, not exercise, complain about the same things, I fit in. THEY fit in. The longer I stayed doing what I was doing, then EVERYONE was happy. I was being an enabler and I didn’t even know it.
Jump ahead to 2011 when I moved into my current house. Something about that move injured my back so badly, I was bedridden for weeks. The pain was excruciating and I honestly felt like I had broken my back. Months of physical therapy, x-rays, MRI’s, and time off of work, it ended up being an SI joint issue with chronic inflammation that we could not get under control. Several blood tests later and mixed results of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation of some sort, the end result was autoimmune disease that we will just call it rheumatoid arthritis, since that is your most consistent lab result.
I was sent to a dietician for an anti-inflammatory diet suggestions and my mom is an expert in this field and she helped me a ton. Pulling out the diet soda (major diet coke addict everyday at 4 pm) and taking out sugar (remember above-binge eater?) put me through the WORST 8 weeks I have ever experienced. Pure HELL. I am still traumatized and even in typing this all these years later, I can still remember the horror of those 8 weeks. It was the equivalent of someone coming off of hard drugs. The withdrawal, the depression, the shakes, the cravings, the suicidal thoughts, the vomiting, everything you can think of, it hit me. In hindsight, I had no idea my future held becoming a nutritionist, and I can now see experiencing that helped mold me into the nutritionist I am with compassion and wisdom of how NOT to get people off of sugar. But I had no idea how much of an addict I was until I went through that.
Have I had sugar since? Yes. Have I had a soda since? Only a few times when I have had migraines that I can’t get rid of. Have I had fast food since? No. Have I had alcohol since? No. (But I actually haven’t had alcohol since 2006 and that’s a separate blog) Have I binged ate since? No.
Part of that experience was so traumatic that I will never ever go back to my old ways. Once you can stick with something long enough, you no longer want the old ways. You realize the new ways really are actually better.
Over the course of my very strict 8 weeks, I lost 30 lbs. just by taking out the soda and the sugar. Clearly, it was a big part of my daily “food” consumption. I started reading books on inflammation and food choices. This lead to doing what was right for my body and giving it the foods that it actually wanted. I learned to listen to what my body wanted from the neck down, NOT what my taste buds wanted or what my brain was trying to trick me into thinking I wanted.
But I still had 20 lbs. to go, so I started exercising. It took a while, but the other weight slowly, and I mean as slow as molasses, started to come off. The food part was way, WAY easier than the exercise part, for me. Exercise hurt. And I mean it literally hurt, my back still wasn’t completely recovered, and in the meantime, I had reinjured my left knee. Exercise wasn’t what it was cracked up to be! It sucked. I hated being sore, I wasn’t looking as cute as I thought I did in my workout clothes, and it left me tired. I did not understand those people who craved to workout. I thought they were all liars. Like really, who craves a workout? I craved ice cream.
Fast forward about 8 months and although I would have rather cleaned public toilets than exercise, I begrudgingly stuck with it and people started to notice. Not only did they notice for some reason, the whole being healthy thing can actually be as contagious as the whole let’s all go for drinks and order nachos. So, people started wanting to partner up and do it together. I figured, why not have buddies in this torture!
One year later, I opened Perfect Union. I still continue to work on myself and although since 2011 my personal goals have changed, I still somewhat hate cardio, I still hate to cook, but my passion for people has continued to grow.
I learned in my own journey that hating cardio, hating doing something I don’t think I can do, and hating attention on myself were parts of this journey that were unavoidable. That almost broke me. Really. It was this close to being a deal breaker. Until I realized that MY journey was for me, not anyone else.
You see, the sooner you realize you are doing this for you, not them, you will be successful. Your life will change, and emotional happiness will be a door left wide opened for you to walk through.
The name Perfect Union came to me one day while just sitting on my bed. I kept asking myself, what is it about this studio I am creating that I want to be different. I knew God was giving me all the ideas and my heart and passion and my personal success in my own weight loss to reach others and I was trying to figure out my mission statement. What did I want to adhere to, that was truly my heart and soul, for this new business. And in doing that I realized that in order to be successful with your own journey, you needed three different avenues: 1) the relationship between you and your trainer, this had to be a family relationship someone you trusted and felt comfortable with. Someone you could share life with that made you feel safe, comfortable and not judged. 2) The relationship that you have with food needed to be a healthy one. Food needed to be looked at as medicine not a friend or comfort or drug (remember I learned that lesson already and wanted to teach others) 3) the relationship you have with yourself needs to be #1. How do you treat yourself, speak to yourself, and do you love yourself? If someone had all three of these areas intact, then that would be a Perfect Union of health! And BAM in my mission statement came my business name, Perfect Union.
So, no mirrors, positive self talk only, instructors who love you unconditionally, fitness classes that I love and never feel like hours of running no where on a treadmill (no offence treadmill lovers please don’t send me hate mail), and a nutritionist who from the bottom of her most inner soul wants you to experience freedom from food bondage.
That is Perfect Union. That same nutritionist is constantly taking classes to learn more, offering free monthly seminars and now a wellness weekend to just keep reaching as many people as possible.
Instructors that plan playlists, themes, and workouts to keep you smiling, happy and having fun while working out.
A studio that gets creative with Cinderella rides, hikes, and Spartan Races to keep you feeling empowered because YOU CAN DO ANYTHING.
As for me, I have personal goals for business and my body that are always evolving. What started out as “I don’t want to be on anti-inflammatory medicines and I need to lose 50 lbs.” has turned into “I love weight training and really want to build a physic.” But it takes forever. Losing 50 lbs. went WAY faster than it takes to shape and create the body of your dreams. It takes patience that I don’t have, it takes eating a certain way, it takes saying NO to certain things, and it takes discipline. It’s constantly learning, constantly evolving, and constantly trying to see what works best for me. It takes eating a lot food to build muscle not fat, which means counting macros and finding the best blend that gives me energy and stamina, builds my muscles and doesn’t make me bloated. It’s basically its own part time job. But you know what? Any lifestyle is. Being a vegetarian takes saying no, turning things down, and brings attention to you. So does Paleo. So does being on Weight Watchers. Anything you are going to try that isn’t part of our cultural norm of “drink and eat what you want” will bring attention.
You have to be prepared for it. You WILL have someone who disagrees. With hundreds of self help books out there, someone will disagree, trust me. With so many different ways to work out, styles of gyms, and eating plans, someone will think theirs is the only tried and true way. And it could be. For them. Not You.
Remember when I said, “when you stick with something long enough that you will feel so good you won’t ever want to go back?” Its true. It’s a real phenomenon that happens with health.
I am living proof. What do I say when someone has an opinion about how I live my life? Whether its too much exercise, eating too much, eating too little, you have to splurge sometimes-I could go on and on. My answer is, “ After years of searching for what makes me feel the best, finally loving my body and feeling emotionally the happiest I have ever been, is actually what I am doing right now. But thank you for sharing your thoughts with me, I hope it continues to work for you” Some one does not have the right to argue with your well being. What works for them may not have worked for you. Kind of like those crazy treadmill runners, they love it, I despise the false sense that my feet are moving but I am in fact not actually going anywhere. I have clients that will never come to a class they need a dumbbell heavier that five-pound for. I don’t understand that either. They look at me and scratch their heads and say, “YOU WANT BIG MUSCLES???” Well heck yeah I do! And yet another reason we offer so many different types of classes here.
I want a place that we all support each other in just the love of loving ourselves, and embracing that you love cardio and I love weight training. Who cares if it’s different because we are both loving ourselves and wanting to do something healthy.
Why all be the same? How boring would that be??? You pick your Crayola color and you own it! We can’t paint the world colorful if we are all the same color.