On my walk home from the gym today I felt so good and I started thinking… why is that? And how long have I felt this way? What did I do to get to this point? How can I help to inspire others to crave this feeling? What is it about exercise and a healthy lifestyle that makes me feel SO GOOD? And what exactly does being ‘in shape’ mean??
Well, first things first! I have experienced living at the opposite end of the spectrum, being overweight, unmotivated, eating WHATEVER I feel like depending on the day, drinking way too much alcohol, late nights out, being inactive and MISERABLE! Was it a good place to be? NOPE! Was it easy to live like that? Well yes and no (it is easy to be lazy though!) Would I want to go back to feeling that way? DEFINITELY NOT! How did I get there? Long story short, after university and playing collegiate volleyball (10 years ago), I started teaching and felt very alone. I had a lot of responsibility as a teacher and I wasn’t enjoying that position at all! I had to make decisions about what to teach each day, what I would assess the students on, worry about whether the kids would listen or do what they wanted that day, the list goes on! So after 1.5 years of not enjoying my life as a teacher I hit a low point, and during this low point I decided not to teach anymore…and moved to Ottawa on a whim to find a better life/career for myself.
My first job in Ottawa was working as a hostess at a famous Irish Pub…keep in mind I knew nobody in Ottawa (except my sister) so in order to make friends I would hang around after my shift with co workers and drink, and eat, and drink some more and would stay up really late 4 nights a week. This lifestyle seemed fun at the time BUT it got the best of me and I became more and more out of shape, unmotivated and miserable. Luckily the kilt I wore for work was adjustable so I never actually was able to tell just how overweight I was getting. This all came to an end when one day (actually she told me many times until I finally went) my sister said “hey why don’t you go to the gym? You don’t do much other than work, eat bar food and drink booze and stay out late. Doesn’t seem like you are very happy with yourself either.” Well good thing she cared about me enough to tell me this and pushed me to go to the gym because that is when my life started to head in the right direction again. After many failed attempts of meeting with a fitness advisor at Goodlife, I finally was able to set up an appointment that worked with my schedule and his. We sat down to discuss the services they offer, then he gave me a tour of the gym and he asked about my fitness background, goals, etc and then somehow convinced me to hire a personal trainer. I remember leaving the gym after that appointment feeling sooo excited (and scared) with my decision to make a change and start working out again! At first I was a little nervous about how much it cost per month but after a couple of weeks I soon realized it was TOTALLY WORTH EVERY PENNY! My trainer was Julie and she was the one who convinced me to apply to be a personal trainer…I was like WHO?? ME??? But I am sooo out of shape! But she told me that with my education, my experience as a high level athlete, my caring personality, my ability to relate to different people and my passion for helping others (I have a teaching degree after all!) that I would be an ideal candidate to become a personal trainer. She also promised that she would help me get in the best shape of my life! So, I applied, had an interview and within a few months of working out at Goodlife with her and getting to know the staff and getting my CAN FIT PRO certification I was hired!
It was during the first year that I really really became OBSESSED with (in a good way of course)..ok hooked on exercise and although it took me almost 6-9 months to get a handle on my nutrition (and to have less nights out at the bar!), the fat was shedding, my body was changing, I saw muscles I had never seen before. I felt more confident! I stopped wearing old volleyball t-shirts and baggy shorts and discovered Lululemon (eek!) Tight fitting yoga pants and clingy tops were my new fave items to workout in- I wasn’t trying to hide my body anymore. Other people were starting to notice the changes in my body and in the way I carried myself….I felt so good! And kept getting better and better, the best part of this new and improved lifestyle was feeling confident and alive! And I was eating more-more protein, more vegetables and less CRAP (ie deep friend food, packaged, low fat foods etc) I felt like I had a purpose…not to mention the reward I felt from being a personal trainer and seeing my clients change their lifestyles the same way that I was! These were some of the best years of my life. I even did some crazy things like run a few half marathons, competed in my first fitness competition and even ran a full marathon during my time at Goodlife. I was always setting new goals and working so hard to achieve them in my work life and my personal life.
Next thing that I discovered…yoga…at first I was very resistant as I didn’t like how boring it was, I found it weird that we would chant randomly in class, I wasn’t ‘good at it’ and couldn’t seem to stop my mind from wandering the whole time. In some classes I felt like it was pointless to just sit and hold poses for an hour or more. I kept saying “this isn’t a workout! Why am I doing this?” Then I had some wonderful yoga teachers who started teaching me that the importance of yoga is not to get somewhere or to become the most flexible but to take a moment to dedicate some time for yourself (which I had no problem doing in the gym) to calm your mind and feel grounded.
WOW! What a difference when you look at it that way!? I became so hooked on yoga and the way it made me feel when I practiced yoga regularly plus it was so beneficial for my body that had been working so hard lifting weights and running that I decided I would sign up for a 200hr hatha yoga teacher training course! I wanted to learn more about the practice of yoga, and again, I was thinking…ME?? Teaching and learning about yoga?? But why?? Well it was the best decision I ever made as I met some wonderful people throughout the training and I also learned SO MUCH about myself, how I view myself and others and what is really important in my life. And the best part? Yoga is the best way to bring me back to earth, it calms me down when I feel myself getting carried away or over committing myself and getting too busy. I can now share my practice and what I learned with others. It was at the very beginning of my teacher training that I had an opportunity to branch out from Goodlife and start my own personal training business. And with a few sleepless nights and long talks with my boyfriend at the time and my friends who had started their own personal training businesses (plus convincing my parents that it would be a smart decision and that I would be successful) I took the plunge and started Get Fit with Les. Now we are 4 years into my fitness journey at this point….imagine 4 years has gone by and I am still hooked to the gym, eating healthy and practicing yoga, heck it is what I do for a living! Do I have moments, days or weeks when I feel like eating a really good meal (burger and fries or pizza) and skipping the gym? OF COURSE, I AM HUMAN! And I do it without feeling guilty or beating myself up about it.
Ultimately though, in the grand scheme of things I have realized that it is my PASSION to help others overcome their obstacles and teach them how it is possible to live a healthier and more active lifestyle. I LOVE IT! I love love love love love what I do and could never imagine myself doing anything different. My clients are my inspiration and are the reason I love what I do so much, seeing them get stronger, leaner and more confident as they achieve their goals is the most rewarding thing in the world.
Changing the subject again (and back to my story lol) during year 2 of Get Fit with Les I decided to train for another fitness competition since I had more time to myself (after ending my relationship) and was determined to show people how I could transform my body in hopes that it would help my business grow. It worked, I charted and shared my progress week by week in hopes of inspiring others and it worked. I was the busiest I had ever been, training 40 hours a week on top of all the hours of training and cooking I had to do to prepare for my show. It was so rewarding, I have the pictures to prove I did it and I learned a lot about myself (and the fitness comp world) through the process.
Did I do it to win? No. Did I do it to challenge myself? YES. Is it the healthiest and best way to get in ‘awesome’ shape? Not really. Is it something I would recommend to others? It depends…Do I know how to get myself (and others who are interested in doing a show) as lean as possible aka ‘my best’ shape, OF COURSE! Is it worth the sacrifice to my health and my personal life? To me? NOPE! Looking back, I am glad I had the experience of doing two competitions but it isn’t really for me. It is so hard on my body to get that lean and in my opinion, sure I looked amazing but was I ‘healthy’ and in ‘great shape?’ Not at all, I was tired all the time, had digestive issues and let’s face it, I was starving myself and in a massive calorie deficit.Not an ideal state to be in… Long story short, that will be my last competition because I have realized that as much as I ‘loved’ being super lean (like imagine me 30 lbs lighter than I am now?)
it is not sustainable nor do I have the desire to lead such an extreme lifestyle to look AWESOME for 1 week, heck 1 day. BUT I have huge respect for anyone who does a competition and continues to compete. Big props to you! But all I can say about my experience now is simply been there, done that…enjoyed the challenge but I’ll pass for now…
Sorry this is the longest post ever and good for you for continuing to read this…where was I? OH YEAH! What do I love about working out so much and how did I get to this point? I have realized after many years of training for different ‘goals’ and having many different trainers and going through a variety of experiences and times in my life plus training hundreds of individuals with their own stories and obstacles to overcome that what I enjoy most about working out is the way I feel AFTER MY WORKOUT (and I’m sure my clients would agree with me on this one)!
Not only do I feel like I have accomplished something but my body is saying THANK YOU. And it is even more fun when I can workout with others (like my husband in this picture, poor guy, he has to put up with me and my crazy ways!)
My food choices on days I work out are always WAY better than on days when I am not exercising. I sleep better when I have a great workout. There are so many different ways to exercise, there are endless types of workouts, a variety of ways of using equipment, difference places to train, etc that I never run out of things to do at the gym and I never get bored! I have realized that being active, eating healthy, having a positive mindset and surrounding myself with people who are supportive makes me so happy. I have finally accepted my body as it is without constantly wishing I could make something look smaller, tighter or skinnier. I am so content with my current state it is crazy but this doesn’t mean I don’t have bad days, or days when I feel ‘fat’ and eat excessive amounts of Chicago Mix popcorn 😉 but again, I am kind to myself during the moments, and have to remind myself during these low points of how far I have come! All I have to do is think about where I started (yep, that wasn’t very fun back then) and that I am human. So while I am content with where I am right now this doesn’t mean I stop challenging myself each day to continue to improve and be better. My parents always told me that they don’t care what I do, who I date, or who I hang around with as long as I am happy. What makes me happy? My husband, my family, my friends, my business, my clients, and my fitness!
So many things to be grateful for but the most important things are the things I have learned along the way…my journey. I feel blessed that my fitness journey has brought me to such a happy place and it keeps going. I am not sure where I will be in 3, 5, 10 or 20 years but one thing I do know is that I will always be active and doing what I love…which is inspiring others to workout.
Why?? Because it feels good and there is no right or wrong way to do it! You can do it anyway you want! You’re never too old, too big, too short, too slow, too lazy or too broke to exercise….so why not JUST TRY and DO IT! I chose to stop complaining about my life 7 years ago and look where I am now…it has taken a long time to get here but I had to start…and if you haven’t yet or you’re still struggling to find your way to becoming a ‘fit’ person (whatever that means) aka find your happy place (mentally, physically and emotionally) you should think about the following… 1- where are you right now/what are you currently doing? 2-how committed are you to change your ways? 3-what help do you need to get there?…4-what are your goals? 5-what steps do you need to take to get there and more importantly how do you get started and keep going?…We all know that ‘getting fit’ doesn’t happen overnight so are you in it for the long term? I hope so! The best advice I can give you is to keep your goals simple…and just start….small…without turning back….without feeling sorry for yourself and making excuses or complaining. Just take it one day at a time and if you need help don’t be afraid to ask (or pay for it!) That’s what I did and it was the best investment I ever made!
So if you are reading this and think…well she is personal trainer, working out and eating healthy must be so easy and second nature for her…well I must confess…it is not easy! I still struggle with food (as most of us do) but the main thing is I am very aware of what my triggers are and I don’t deprive myself or follow an extreme diet as I know that all or nothing approaches always end up as nothing! Do I have the least amount of body fat and 6 pack abs? NO and I never have nor is that my goal! Do I wear a size 8? HECK NO! Am I happy and comfortable in my own skin, my size 10/12 jeans and embrace my curves? YES!
Do I love the way I feel when I workout and when I eat healthy foods? HECK YEAH! Do I enjoy a good burger with fries and a milkshake once in awhile? SURE DO! Am I addicted to the gym and working out? SURE! Is that a bad thing? NO because I take rest days and am fully aware of the importance of balance! Honestly, I might not have the ‘perfect body’ according to some people in the fitness industry (who cares!) but what does ‘perfect’ or ‘being in great shape’ mean anyway? What does ‘perfect’ look like? In my opinion ‘being in great shape’ means being happy with who I am, what I do, who I spend my time with and with what I have…this to me is PERFECT! But, we all have to start somewhere…we all have our own story…so what is your journey like or going to be like? It won’t be easy…but it will be worth it….you have to find something that you love to do…and do it! It might even be not ever working out in a gym but that’s ok! As long as you’re moving and smiling while you do it!
Ok! My rambling has come to an end…I could go on and on and I’m not even sure that what I have written makes sense….but I hope that you have enjoyed it at least