On Sunday, 8th January 2017 my life changed forever! That was the first time I met Alex in the gym… You may have an idea of where this leads, but let me put you on the right track. I was completely out of my personal comfort zone, feeling fat and unhappy in my gym leggings and overstretched vest, and extremely self-conscious standing in front of the full-length mirrors in the weights’ section of the local gym. I was horrified at my reflection and did not know where to stand or what to do with my hands, or my personal discomfort.
I was trying to divert my eyes from the mirror every time I was asked to face myself and “squat”! It was not a happy day and every time I did what vaguely resembled a squat-like movement, I tried desperately not to notice the way my scrunched-up stomach looked in the reflection. I didn’t have a clue and all I wanted was for that session to end so that I could run and hide in the change rooms.
I was not going to go ever again! I’d find a way to cancel and I was sure that there were plenty of dead-relatives I could use as not being able to make the next session. During those 45 minutes, I had convinced myself that gym was not meant for overweight beginners and that I should simply stay firmly put in my unhappy, fixed-mindset, change-is-the-devil head space. Anyway, that would be far easier than going back to the gym – EVER AGAIN! But Alex gently coaxed me through that endless session, and was kind and understanding of my awkwardness. Pretty sure I am not the first person to experience these feelings, and he was aware and conscious. In fact after a few sets of the dreaded squats, we moved onto something else a little more ego-friendly.
The reason I share this is because I have to believe that I am not the only person who stepped into a gym for the first time after many years of vowing and affirming that this was the January I was going to lose some weight and get into shape! I am definitely not the only client who has felt geeky and uncomfortable in front of their ripped, muscly coach. And I am most certainly not alone when I express that the experience was hardly one that I wanted to repeated…never mind in a couple of days.
But go back I did…again…and again…and again! And the most amazing thing started to happen. Firstly, I learned that Alex was anything but judgmental, and that his passion and purpose lies in supporting and encouraging his clients as they grow stronger and leaner. I learned that he believes in being process- rather than outcomes-driven, and that much of the fulfillment he experiences in his work comes from seeing the changes that his clients achieve over the weeks and months. I guess that would make sense in the way that an artist doesn’t start with a beautiful landscape or a mind-blowing masterpiece, but rather takes their time to create something from the tools and materials that they have around them.
I have moved from being self-conscious to feeling a little more comfortable in my body as we’ve worked together. And the results although amazing, haven’t been overnight! The first months saw lots of big changes…kilograms and centimetres seemed to melt away under the fluorescent lamps, but of course these slowed down. And I kept going to the gym, following my eating plan and altering my mindset and perspective about health and nutrition. There would be days when I wanted to lie on the floor of the gym and cry because my body didn’t want to comply, or my knees (which have been bad since my showjumping days in high school) wanted to give in. And I kept going back!
And the most remarkable things have happened! I didn’t turn into a freakish looking version of myself with great, bulging muscles and manly features. What did happen was that my body has gotten stronger, leaner and healthier. And I am able to look into that very same mirror that so terrified me on Day 1 and really look the reflection that is there looking back at me. It’s got some nicely toned, visible muscles and is still quite shapely, but in a much more sexy, feminine way then I imagined it would look. So when I stood there last week on Monday, 8th January 2018, I was so proud and excited about how far I have come.
Thankfully I didn’t give up on that very first day because of the inner critic in me who wanted me to run off and hide because I wasn’t good enough, slim enough or strong enough. Instead I have stuck it out three to four times a week (well most weeks) and have learned to love, nurture and care for my body in a way I haven’t ever done. I’ve learned that exercise is NOT about punishing myself because I had a chocolate brownie, but that it’s about honouring the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental parts of self. Of course there are days when the thought of getting into my gym pants is the last hings I want to do…and I ‘d rather lie around in my underwear and eat ice cream, but the truth is I have fallen in love with the new me over the last year.
The me that is self-loving and wants to do the best for me that I can do. The new me who has persevered through the initial stages of getting my health back. The new me who values fitness and exercise. The new me who doesn’t make excuses all the time about not having time, but rather makes and finds the time because I am worth it! And it’s not that I am suddenly an arrogant, slimmer version of my past, overweight self, it’s more that I just really love the fact that I love me! And that I got over myself and went back for that second and third and forth session with Alex, and all the sessions since then.
He wasn’t with me in the gym this year on my “gym-aversary” but I know he delights in the progress and changes I have made, the growth I have shown, and the values I have developed around myself, my health and my fitness. Alex is still very much part of my process, and I rely on his knowledge,experience and accountability to see me through the next year of my ongoing transformation, because I have learned that this is not about reaching a final goal, but rather living a life where I am constantly striving for improvement and achievement. All I can say is #whatadifferenceayearmakes.