Confession: Writing this post terrifies me.
My business coach has been telling me for months that I need to share my story. That I need to be vulnerable.
I’ve been putting it off.
For the last 4 months, I’ve found every excuse possible to avoid writing this.
I’m not sure exactly why I’m so scared to share my personal journey.
I guess it’s because I’m afraid people will judge me… or maybe that they’ll see me as an imposter?
I suppose I feel this way because as a strength and nutrition coach, sometimes I feel like my life is under a microscope. Like I need to hold myself to ridiculous standards. Like I should have it all together.
When you look at the photos of me on my website or social media accounts you might see a woman that looks strong, confident, and comfortable in her own skin.
…That couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Sure, I’m just fine with who and where I am today. I know that I’m enough.
But I wasn’t always convinced of that.
My Journey From Self-Conscious Athlete To Strength Coach
I’ve always considered myself an athlete.
I played competitive hockey for most of my life. In high school, I played on pretty much every sports team. I was actually awarded a large scholarship at my high school graduation for my athletic and academic accomplishments.
During university, I played varsity hockey and competed in weightlifting.
Despite being an accomplished athlete, I still struggled with my body image. I hated how I looked. I obsessed over my body. I never felt small enough or lean enough.
It was this feeling of inadequacy that initially motivated me to join a gym. I told everyone else that I wanted to workout to improve my performance on the ice. But deep down, I just wanted to lose weight… So that I could be happy… So that I could be good enough.
From the time I was 15 until I was part-way through university I’d lift weights before class (not well I might add). I went to gym class most days. I played basketball over lunch, often skipping my meal to do so. After school I played whatever sport was in-season, and in the evening I played hockey. Overall, I probably exercised about 4 to 5 hours a day!
During that time I skipped meals and I avoided long lists of foods… until I couldn’t stand it any longer and I ate uncontrollably… I repeated this cycle, over and over.
I hid my self-hatred and disordered eating from my family and friends. And throughout all of this, I tried to convince myself that I was fine.
No pain, no gain right? Wrong.
I was exhausted, sore, and sick most of the time.
This behaviour continued until the summer before my 4th year of university. I crashed hard that summer. I could barely function. Each day, after I got home from work, I’d fall asleep on the couch. My parents pretty much had to drag me out of bed for dinner. I skipped most of my workouts.
That fall, when training camp for my varsity hockey team came around, I was still experiencing chronic fatigue. I showed up to camp in the worst shape of my life because I hadn’t been training.
I got cut from the varsity hockey team that year.
Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I wasn’t a competitive athlete. I had a hard time dealing with it. I started beating myself up. I considered myself a failure. That negative self-talk seeped into other aspects of my life as well.
I gained 25 pounds, which made me feel even worse about myself.
Partway through that school year, I saw my family doctor because the fatigue and what I thought was depression started affecting my grades. I couldn’t get out of bed for class most mornings.
After a series of blood tests, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, a form of autoimmune hypothyroidism. It runs in my family, so I had a predisposition for it. But I couldn’t help but wonder if all the stress that I was putting on myself may have triggered it to develop.
The medication I was prescribed helped with energy levels, but not much else. So, after graduation, I finally sucked it up and asked for help.
A few weeks before I started grad school, I hired a fitness and nutrition coach. Over the course of a couple of years, she helped me work through the issues I was having with over-training, disordered eating and negative self-talk.
I learned to let go of my obsession with “the numbers” and with perfection. Instead of dieting and avoiding certain foods I focused on eating more nutritious foods. I trained smarter instead of training longer. I worked on shifting my mindset.
I learned how to use strength training, mindset techniques, and balanced nutrition to enhance my life.
I also found my love for powerlifting and Olympic lifting. I enjoyed the challenge. They were empowering. They taught me to appreciate my body not just for how it looked, but what it was capable of.
Reaching new PR’s boosted my confidence. Before long, that confidence seeped into other aspects of my life.
I found peace. I was finally okay with who I was. I was enough.
It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen.
It’s definitely not “perfect”. I still have my moments…but they are few and far between.
I routinely get under (or over) the bar and lift my bodyweight, or multiples of it.
I lift because I love my body, not because I hate it.
The way I train and eat enhances my life, it no longer controls it.
I’m happy. I’m confident. I’m content.
I love my work. It lifts me up. Every day, I get to help other female athletes overcome their struggles and not only reach, but exceed their goals…. There’s no better feeling than that.
I’m not the lightest or leanest that I’ve ever been, but my life is infinitely more gratifying.
I am enough. I am just fine as I am.
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