So get this… everybody has dreams right? At some point in their life, young or old, rich or poor, happy or sad – everyone has had a dream. A goal. A wish. An idea of how “x” would be if “y” happened. So what happened? What thing occurred (or didn’t occur) that caused “y” not to happen. When did the dream die?
So I am not a size 12. Nor a 10, nor a 6, nor a 4. In fact, if you take a 1 and put it in front of that 4, that’s where you’ll find me. 14. Not Macy’s or Nordstrom 14. But Fashion to Figure, Torrid 14. And that’s when I’m not moonlighting at a 16. Cute and funny, curvy and confident (most days), active and creative. All words that could aptly describe the woman I am and strive to be. So why does a 34 years young woman who once walked in fashion shows as a full-figured model now pursue a career as a fitness consultant and personal trainer? Four words: because I want to.
I’d always admired runners. Envied those who did track and field. Long, lean bodies that moved with ease. I’d see them in the mornings as I’d commute to work and think I wish I was out there running, too. But I was a thick girl and the way my body was set up…. (cue Kevin Hart). Still, even though I didn’t run, I played basketball, football, tennis. I was active, but thick. In fact, I don’t remember ever being small. I was smaller than I am now, but never small. And that was hard growing up. I still loved me, curves and all – but I hated not being able to shop in the same stores as my smaller friends, my sister, my mom. I don’t have any horror stories of being teased or bullied about weight, but I do remember always wanting to be fit. To not have to wear suck-it-in shape-wear with a fancy dress, or to not have my thighs chaff under a sundress on a hot, summer day was a dream. And as the years grew longer, I grew wider. So I dibbled and dabbled in different diets, work out plans, gym memberships, bandwagon fads, soups, juices, pills, you know – stuff. And needless to say… (don’t make me say it.)
Enter the curvy girl revolution. Despite my silent battles with my up and down weight, I still remained at least from the outside looking in, extremely confident. I had become a self-published author and spoken word artists doing college tours and national features. I traveled internationally, climbed up the corporate ladder in the field of IT, developed my skills and credentials as a freelance makeup artist, held somewhat healthy relationships in love (that’s for another blog story lol), but I mean I was seemingly doing well! I even had the opportunity to walk in several fashion shows featuring full-figured women. Not just local mall type stuff. I mean real events: lights, runways, cameras, promotions, money. And it was amazing! I met some of the most beautiful, confident, strong, and talented women. Some of them I still have the pleasure to connect with, and admire. I think deep curves and wide hips are a beautiful thing, and I want my curves to stay! But when I looked back, especially at the footage from poetry and fashion shows I would do, I was always a bit uncomfortable with the silhouette I saw. I was fabulous – please don’t get me wrong. Mama stayed fly. I highly believed (and still do believe) you can look good at any size. But for me, personally, I wanted to look good at another size. A healthier size. And for me that size, fully equipped with wide hips, shapely curves, and all things lovely didn’t have a number, just a feeling.
So I went to work on attaining that feeling. And like most journeys on the road to success, my path has not been a straight one. But in addition to working out and cutting out (or back on) fast food and sugary sweets, I came into contact with JJ Smith and her 10-day green smoothie cleanse, which accelerated my weight loss and my confidence. After about a year of teetering back and forth between her green smoothies and other health tips I found along the way, I managed to drop a good 30-35lbs along with inches. I drank more water, my skin cleared up, and I gained muscle. And since consistency is one of the things I struggle with greatly, I probably would’ve had more progress had I stayed the course. But I say again, the path is not straight. At JJ’s health conference in the summer of 2015, I took the training to become a certified Green Smoothie Personal Coach and spent the following year helping over 20 individuals detox, have less brain fog, more energy, lose inches, and on average 10-15lbs in 10 days. I LOVED the way that felt. It wasn’t even all about the weight loss – those 10 days helped people feel better and have more confidence that small changes could bring about great results in their lives, if they wanted them. Even though I was still on my journey to a better me, I realized I could help others on their personal journey as well.
So that same year, I enrolled in the Personal Fitness Training Certification program offered thru W.I.T.S. at the local community college. I didn’t necessarily reason at the time that I wanted to be a personal trainer. I mean I was still well over 200 lbs, and still am, but I knew I wanted to learn more about fitness and how to push myself to reach the goals I had set. Can I just tell you that was an emotional 9 weeks of training? Not only was I the largest woman in class – I was the largest person in the class! Try sitting in a room with physically fit people talking about fitness and then dealing with your own internal feelings of “why are you even here?” I definitely had to overcome a few challenges to make it thru. But I did. Even with continuing to work my 9-5 and keeping up with my spiritual volunteer work, I studied hard, paid attention, and aced both my written exam and practical. The only thing left to officially become a Certified Personal Trainer was a 30hr internship with a more experienced certified trainer and a quick class on CPR.
And here it is, almost a full year later and I have just now finally started my internship. In fact, I have til the end of May to turn in these final requirements or my entire course will be null and void. I know what your thinking: Why did I wait so long to get it done? Sadly simple: I let my own fears and insecurities get in the way of finishing what I started. Even though I was confident in the beginning, as I backslid in my nutrition and workouts over the months, I allowed negative thoughts to creep in and remind me that fluffy girls aren’t personal trainers. Sure, I inquired of a few gyms on the recommended list – left voicemails and sent emails to potential bosses. Even reached out to trainer or too I knew personally. But when they weren’t returned for whatever the reason, it was as if they, too, were looking at all this chunky and saying to me it couldn’t be done. A bit over dramatic, I know. But it is what it is, and it held me back. The further away from my classes I went, the less likely it felt like I could be qualified to train.
However, sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and deal with it. Negative thoughts or not, I spent a lot of money and time and energy in those classes and I was so close to the end. I realized I had motivated a lot of people on my journey – and they were rooting for me and waiting for me to succeed. Shoot, I have a list of people right now who are waiting for me to start accepting clients. So I got on with it. I put out a call to all my Facebook friends to shout out their favorite trainers. I sent out messengers, a call for help, and followed up. And even though I still received a few no’s, that eventually led me to the awesome Patrice Jones, personal trainer at Shytimba Extreme Fitness. And with our crazy schedules, it was a rocky start for us as well now that we’re connected, she has been nothing less than amazing. I’ve already shadowed her on a few training sessions and eagerly look forward to doing and learning more.
So what to say to wrap up this incredibly long backstory? Follow your dreams just sounds way too corny. That just won’t do. But what I will say is set a goal and embrace the journey. Sometimes in order to get where you want to be, you ultimately will go thru a few different rounds of what you thought you wanted to be. I know I did. And that can be a hard realization. To put so much into something and then realize hey, I think I want to do something else. But it happens. It’s happening for me right now. I’m a thick, fluffy girl who loves her curves but also wants to be more fit. One who doesn’t much care for a thigh gap but wants to run a 5k without stopping to walk. I am excited. I am scared. I am optimistic. I am a lot of things. But I think what I most am is determined. And as I continue on this journey of fluffy ‘n fit, I promise to take you with me for the ride.
xoxo from your future Personal Trainer,
Yes, it’s true. Secret’s out. This frequent flier of the clear blue (but oftentimes turbulent) skies has a deep-seated, text your loved ones goodbye, pray ten times before takeoff and seven more times in the air fear: flying. From DC to Brazil to California to Rome, each and every flight in my lifetime has caused me a guaranteed and certain anxiety. Early morning, late night, well planned out, or last minute – it doesn’t even matter. If I’m going up, so is my heart rate.
Even as I write this now, I’m nervously shifting in my 22A window seat (cue Eryka Badu) pondering my life and hoping that I’ve made Him proud. Cause what else do you ponder at this insane altitude watching the lights flicker on the earth below somewhere between Texas and Baltimore? I tried to go to sleep, as I almost always attempt to do before takeoff, but like so many times before – I’ve failed. So now I’m up, my Beats by Dre pumping NeoSoul into my eardrums, doing their best to drown out the turbulence and my own overactive imagination. They are failing as well.
The question, though, is why do I put myself through this anguish? I mean right now the ride is relatively smooth and I feel like I am in no immediate danger. But there have been flights where I have cried real tears and where the poor soul next to me has grabbed my hand to reassure me that we would live. (Yes, he really did – I must have looked as terrified as I was.) So why, again, do I do this to myself of my own free will every chance I get? It’s simple:
Because what I really want is on the other side of fear.
And isn’t that so often the case? Think about it. What would you do in this very moment if you weren’t afraid to do it? Where would you go? Who would you talk to? What would you say? Who would you become?
And I’m not referring to the healthy fear, the one that protects us and guides us to make wise decisions. That fear of being run over that keeps a lone child from crossing a busy street. That fear is helpful. That fear can save lives. But what about that other fear. That negative fear that causes us to not go for that promotion or opportunity, to not approach that person we’ve been eyeing from afar, to not say I’m sorry, or that I love you first. That kind of fear is stifling, debilitating. That’s the kind of fear that would’ve kept me from seeing the castles in Portugal, from swimming with the sting rays in the Cayman Islands. I may have never gotten the chance to freeze my tail off in Paris or scare myself silly in London’s museum of wax. Yes I had to nervously board a plane to attain all of these experiences, but I felt the fear and then did it anyway.
What fear are you feeling at this very moment? (Mine is that the captain just announced our descent.) But what about you? Is there something you’d like to do/say/be but an unhealthy fear is getting in the way? Why not re-evaluate and then make it happen. As I wrote in a previous post, arrange and rearrange. People often say that life is too short to be unhappy. I say life is too long. Some people go 30, 40, 50+ years carrying shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’s that tear them up inside. That’s too long. Too long to be sad. Too long to be unhappy. Too long to be afraid. My aim is to live a determined life; to set fearless goals, and then work fiercely to attain them: spiritual, physical, and otherwise. And as I prepare to utter my next “oh Lord, please let this plane land safely cause I don’t wanna die” prayer, I sincerely urge you to do the same. (Not the prayer part, just the goals part… though prayer never hurts. But that’s for another blog post :))