I never used to be an athletic person. I liked to dance and I did a bit of gymnastics but I was possibly the worst person in all of our school gym classes. For most of my childhood that was ok because I was naturally thin; I don’t remember ever worrying about the way my clothes looked or what I ate. Then puberty hit and I put on a lot of weight. I spent the next several years obsessively keeping it off in all the wrong ways.
All The Wrong Ways
Whereas I had never run before in my life, I started to run obsessively. I could be ill and it could be snowing but I would not miss a run. In the past, I’d always eaten whatever I wanted and not thought much about it but I began to live on 1,000 calories a day, which I meticulously counted. Often, I was eating so little that I would sometimes binge on sugary treats because my body was so starving for calories; there were occasions when I could not physically stop myself from binging until I finished whatever was in front of me. At my thinnest, I was nearly a size zero but lived in constant fear of gaining weight. I did this for nearly four years!
Naturally, this extreme attitude toward food and fitness led to an unhealthy relationship with both. Food was either a reward or a punishment. It wasn’t a nutrient or enjoyable. Working out was both an obsession and a necessary evil. It wasn’t invigorating or fun. What I saw in the mirror changed daily based on whether I’d eaten the “appropriate” calories and worked out the “appropriate” amount.
Changing My Mindset (Brazilian Style!)
What finally changed my mindset is moving abroad for a few years to a place where the beauty standards were different. I was living in Brazil and seeing women who were strong (not afraid of muscles) and eating well and often. In many ways, Brazil was promoting an active lifestyle which the rest of the world has only begun to adopt in the last few years; one of dedication but also moderation.
Living in Brazil was especially significant to me as I’m half-Brazilian, and I was lucky enough to see healthy bodies with MY shape. I had struggled for so many years because I was trying to obtain a shape that was not natural to me. Sadly, I was fixated on being thin when I really should have been focusing on getting stronger and healthier instead.
Eventually, I became healthier and happier with myself when I accepted wellness as a life journey rather than an end goal. I began to normalize my eating habits and work out regularly (not obsessively) doing physical activities that I actually enjoyed like barre and yoga (running was never one of them!) It’s no longer a struggle to be healthy, it’s just a part of my life.
I’ve since become a personal trainer and fitness instructor because I wanted to empower others to do the same. I encourage my clients to live an active life but also to ENJOY life— that’s the Brazilian way after all!
The 21-Day Stronger, Fitter, Faster Challenge
When I started my fitness journey, I was blindly following information out there that said to be healthy you need to a) diet and b) do cardio. Today, years later, people are better informed but these two beliefs still persist.
Dieting and cardio workouts will likely get you thinner, but thinner should never be the primary goal, getting healthier should be. Your paths to get there will all differ and I can’t tell you what they will look like, but I can help you get started.
The 21-Day Stronger, Fitter, Faster Challenge is inspired by my experience and those of my clients. It’s a program that is meant to help you jumpstart (or reinvigorate) your own wellness journey with the proper guidance and support. I would love for you to join me and the Yogaia community.
Chardet from Yogaia + Manduka
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