I still don’t know it all. With a Bachelors in Exercise Science, certified by the National Strength & Conditioning Association, and over 10 years of training experience, I am still continually growing and learning alongside my peers.
As a young girl I wanted to be “pretty.” I participated in beauty pageants and would only dress up as a princess for Halloween (multiple years in a row). I wanted to be a thousand different things as I was growing up: actress, model, doctor, lawyer, etc. They were professions that seemed beautiful and bold.
Around the age of 9 or 10 I ditched the tiaras for tennis shoes.
I traded all of my “pretty things” for t-shirts and baggy shorts. I became an athlete and loved being on a team. Team sports were my preference, just as group training is today. Being a part of a team gives a sense of belonging, almost like family. It can’t be forced or faked.
As a personal trainer, I have the opportunity to shape people, both physically and mentally. An added bonus is living in athletic wear and messy buns. My work can be emotionally and physically exhausting at times, yet day after day it’s worth it because of the team we’ve built.
I have the opportunity to cut through the absurd advertising that social media and the media in general presents to the public in terms of health and fitness. I get to show people the truth to what fitness actually is and that is whatever YOU choose to make it.
What’s Actually Important
Fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. With all of my past experience in the field I can confidently say there are three solid components to focus on.
As a species we need to move our bodies daily. It can be whatever form of activity you choose, but it must be every day, for both the sake of bodily functions, as well as developing the habit of consistency. You can walk, run, bike, swim, lift, yoga — whatever you want, just DO something. There are a number of health conditions that can be greatly improved by exercising as little as 90 minutes per week, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and cancer.
One way to add more movement to your life is finding a trainer — someone with knowledge, experience, and credibility. If it’s not in your budget, contact them anyway. A good trainer will be able to give you some guidance and direction on where to turn for quality information.
Some of those resources may include online training options, local fitness classes, or referring to other professionals that may better suit your needs.
Staying hydrated is a big component to healthy living that is often overlooked. We hear: “Are you drinking enough water?” The question we should be asking is: “Are you hydrated?”
We’ve all got busy schedules, which makes it appealing to grab something fast and cheap to eat. A busy morning might look like a box of donuts and a liter of apple juice. But whole foods will always be a better choice in terms of your health and your waistline. Plus, they’re incredibly hydrating.
Start your day with water and whole foods. Fresh fruit and yogurt are great breakfast options. And, rather than gulping down your fruit servings with juice, switch to water. If you need something a little fancier or more refreshing, try sparkling water. By slowly switching out some of the processed items for the more nutritious ones, you eventually develop the habits of a healthy (and hydrated) lifestyle.
Buying or borrowing a cookbook may help inspire you to incorporate whole foods into your life. But it’s okay to keep it simple early on. Ease and simplicity allows for greater adherence to your goals.
In this day and age, rest and recovery have fallen by the wayside in favor of “fitting everything in.” We’re tired, hungry, and overworked. There is little time and attention given to really resting. Generally we do not allow the body and mind to fully recover from the day. We’re tired because of “the grind” and hungry because we aren’t actually providing our bodies with the nourishment they need (i.e. movement, water, and sleep).
Rest and recovery can be shutting down the computer or turning off the TV at a decent hour. It’s having a glass of water or a cup of tea rather than alcohol, and maybe enjoying your favorite cannabis product.
Smoke & Mirrors
As women, many of us have a skewed idea of what fitness should look like. Social media Influencers have us thinking fitness comes by way of “fit” teas, waist trainers, and hunger suppressants. In order to be worthy of the term “fit” you need to have a six-pack and 100K followers. Errr. Wrong.
REAL fitness doesn’t come in a bottle, nor through scrolling the ’gram. It comes by committing yourself daily to a routine. Whether that’s going to the gym, a yoga studio, or the track, you’ve got to hold yourself accountable. A phrase I often use is “no one can do this for you.”
Finding a daily fitness routine involves limiting excuses and showing up, even when life gets in the way.
Another commonly overlooked aspect of fitness is cross training. Simply defined, it’s doing more than one practice of movement. Runners shouldn’t just run. They should also incorporate other exercises like strength training and swimming. Swimmers shouldn’t just swim. They should also strength train and work on their mobility. Weight lifters shouldn’t just lift. They should walk and stretch. Whatever you are or want to be needs to incorporate diversity in order to prevent injury and complacency.
Where to Start
Make a plan for yourself. Quite literally, write it out so you can see it everyday until it becomes routine. Create a schedule for exercise, as well as for food.
To be completely honest it’s going to take longer than you think and certainly longer than you want for changes to appear. Plan to commit to a fitness routine for 3 to 6 months. Most trainers would tell you you’ll start to see results in 6 to 8 weeks. This is true, but by that time you’re just getting started. Fitness is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix.
Take Up Space
My main objective as a trainer is helping my clients grow stronger each day, week, month, and passing year.
To my fellow female gym-goers I want you to show up in a BIG way. By taking up space in and out of the gym. Find a trainer skilled in “progressive overload.” You want to continually improve strength gains with weight lifting. There’s not much that compares to the weight of the burdens we bear on a daily basis. Yet when we lift weights there’s a feeling of power each time we increase reps or weight from the previous sweat session. That’s the point! It’s a matter of proving to ourselves that we can do hard things, time and time again.
When we show up for ourselves with weights in our hands and sweat on our brow, we show up for other women. When we decide that our bodies and minds are worthy of our time and energy, we show up for other women. By pushing through hard sets and uncomfortable positions, we find an untapped strength. And when we do that day after day the inner strength becomes just as prominent as the outer [physical] strength.
The first change I see in every client of mine is confidence. Confidence can’t be bought, it can only be earned. Walking this world with your head held high is truly the best view.
Show up for you. Again. And again.
Photos by Geert Pieters and Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.
Born and raised in rural Kansas, @MamaFitWhit carries a sense of small town appeal on her sleeve. MamaFitWhit is a personal trainer (in person and online) and business owner. She has a passion for health, fitness, and motherhood. For over a year and a half she has been advocating for Autism Awareness and is devoted to educating herself and others about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Education about cannabis as medicine and how it can be utilized for overall wellness is a growing concentration of hers.