When I first started my business as a nutrition coach, I said yes to everything. Every opportunity to see a new client, to speak to a new group of people - I was there. Which I believe is how you should start a business: get out there, get experience, figure out what your true passion is and what the heck you want to do. I was still living in Portland, OR, at the time, as I had just finished my masters program. I met a lot of people and learned a lot of lessons, one of which struck me yesterday like a bolt of lightening that knocked me out of bed and threw me on the floor. Which honestly I am not at all happy to admit as I am as stubborn as they come, and have been since the day I was born. Just ask my mom.
My colleague had a friend in Portland that owned a gym and he was looking for a nutrition coach to speak to his clients once a week. I met with him, liked his training style, and we agreed that I would join one of his small training groups in exchange for my nutrition talks. I thought to myself, “This is perfect!”. I would be connecting with new people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise, as I felt like a really tiny piece of plankton in a big city sea. And since I had been making about zero dollars, I was thrilled to find some free training and exposure. It felt like a HUGE win when I was in serious need of one.
Now, the reason I remembered all of this today is that Facebook popped up yesterday with a video this trainer posted on this day 3 years ago. I saw myself in it and was like, “Damn girl! You were in SHAPE!” (You can check out my "before" picture below.) I also remembered the guy who had tattled on me for skipping stations in our circuits and screwing everyone up. Which I still maintain to this day that I most definitely did not. Anyway, as I’ve stated before, I’ve struggled with my weight and body image my entire life. I’ve lost weight, gained it back, lost it again... you know the drill.
But the point is, in this video, I was the lowest body fat and most muscular I’ve ever been. I was just happy to be strong as hell and to be squatting and benching the most I ever had. I felt good, had some energy and stamina. And heck, I was STILL insecure.
One day, the owner of the gym and I were chatting as I was leaving for the day. He says to me, “You know, if you want to succeed in this industry, you really need to start paying better attention to what you look like. People hire people that look like fitness models.” In that moment, I sort of froze like an ice sculpture, even though if I remember correctly, it was about 98 degrees outside. I calmly explained to him that wasn’t really my goal through all of this and was thinking to myself - fuck this guy! He doesn’t know my story. He doesn’t know how painfully self-conscious I am. He doesn’t know how thrilled I am to have come this far. He doesn’t know that I am just happy to be seeing the amount of weight I’m lifting increase weekly.
I was livid. I’ve always been taught not to give up on things in the heat of emotions and that every experience isn’t necessarily going to go my way. But I really just couldn’t let this go. I wish I could say I told him where he could shove it to his face, but instead I went home and processed it for 24-hours and called my mom, as any adult would do. I decided at the end of it all it wasn’t really worth my time and energy to go and talk to him, so I emailed him, which still felt pretty damn good. I just re-read the email and realized I am really good at passive aggressive emails. GO ME! I never went back and never got a response. No apology, no explanation, no trying to further explain his point. Which I sort of expected but man... it hurt.
I hate to admit it, but this situation made me question everything. Was he right? Am I too fat to tell people how to eat and be “healthy”? Was being a personal trainer stupid since I still was working on my own fitness journey? Should I just forget it all and find a new career like underwater basket weaving? I definitely holed up for awhile. I hated that I was letting this get to me, but it did.
A lot of other things have happened in the past few years to bring me here, but I’ll save them for another day. Looking back, I have helped tons of women improve their relationship with food and their bodies. I have helped people work through some hard shit. People come to me wanting to “lose weight” or “feel better,” but it always morphs into more than that. THIS is what I love. Even though it’s hard work for them, I love seeing the look on their faces when they finally take power over their relationship with food. The “AHA” moment when they start to put the pieces together. The moment they start the journey to self-love & positive body image. This is the shit I live for. And even though I hate admitting that what he said to me made me made me question everything, I hate admitting even more that I wouldn’t be here today if it hadn’t have been for those words. So thank you, Coach W, for being a complete and utter asshole, because now I get to teach women how to stand up to people like you.
P.S. This was also the first time in my life I ever got a black eye. I face-planted into a weight plate trying to do an ab exercise. And even though I was down to one good eye, I still finished that workout, which included running around the block with a medicine ball overhead. How badass is THAT?! But also, shoutout to all the people who drove by me that day and didn't point and laugh. You're the real MVPs.