we all know what it's like, right ladies? You're smashing your workouts, eating well, then you wake up and bam! the cravings, bloating and fluid retention hit. #thankshormones
Honestly, our bodies are freaking awesome. When you think about the amount of activity that goes on in our brains just so we can blink or raise our arm, it's mind blowing. And your liver? That organ does over 500 jobs within your body. How does one organ have that many jobs?!? Our bodies really are complexly amazing!
And our reproductive system is no different. We often think about our uterus, ovaries, vagina etc, as isolated parts with an isolated role. But wait - there's more to these organs than something to reproduce or have fun with. Our reproductive system is intimately connected to our brain, thyroid, and even our adrenal systems.
Here's a quick recap for those who need a refresher about their monthly cycle:
And how does all of this relate to my fat loss?
At the start of your cycle, during your follicular phase, you won't be retaining as much fluid as you would during your luteal phase. This is because your hormones are lower.
During ovulation, when your LH and FSH spike, you might get some bloating, maybe some slight discomfort in your lower belly, as well as breast tenderness.
Between ovulation and your next period, you'll start to get those delightful PMS symptoms. Breast tenderness (maybe even increasing in size too), fluid retention, sluggishness, all that blah stuff that we love sooo much!
It's because of these hormonal changes within your body, that it may seem like you're not making any progress. I'm going to give you one handy hint about taking your measurements or weighing in that will help you keep your sanity:
ONLY TAKE YOUR MEASUREMENTS AT THE SAME TIME DURING YOUR CYCLE.
Yep! That's right! If you don't want to mess with your head and feel like you're getting nowhere, only track your progress once per month. If you don't seem to get hung up on and upset about what your body is doing, you can try fortnightly or weekly. But pick a day, and that will be the day. That way, you'll know what your cycle is doing and how it will influence your weight and measurements. It will save you a LOT of frustration!
(Another handy hint: track your cycle. There's loads of apps online, so it should be really easy to get started. And of course, I'm here to help if you get confused!)
I remember scrolling through Instagram one day. It was very early in my PT career. There it was - the detox tea that would solve all of your problems... and probably mine too!
Cue: eye roll. Ugh. Yes, let's all drink this tea and lose weight and feel ah-maaaazing! If you can't already tell, I was very against the idea of someone marketing a herbal tea as a weight loss miracle. What ever happened to eating right and working out??
(What happened to eating right and working out? Humans got lazy and wanted a quick fix. That's what happened!)
Anyway! What I was truly feeling was frustration, masked in sarcasm and negativity. Because here was a business person using people's (mainly women's) insecurities, past failures and naïvety to make money. Or at least it seemed that way. I don't like miracle creams or wonder pills. It just seems like a trap to me and we shouldn't be taking advantage of each other like that, just to make a few bucks.
Over the next few years I wasn't the hugest fan of the word "detox" simply because of what I said in the last paragraph. However, thankfully I am an open-minded person who loves to learn new things!
So, what is the go with detoxing?
Over time I have come to learn the definition and true purpose of a detox. We all have toxins within our bodies. Even if we live in the remotest part of the world and lived the healthiest lives, we would still have toxins inside us, thanks to the normal metabolic processes within our bodies. It's just what happens! The true purpose of a detox is not to force the toxins out, but to give our own bodies what it needs (nutrients) to mobilise and eliminate those toxins through your body's natural pathways. Sure! A herbal tea will help support our bodies to detox. But often-times our bodies need something a bit more comprehensive than that, they need something specific to us as an individual.
It is my belief that if someone wants to detox, they need to do it under the guidance of someone qualified, preferably a Naturopath or Functional Medicine Practitioner (FMP). The Naturopath or FMP can order tests to see how your body needs balancing, and they have the knowledge and the qualifications to prescribe supplements to truly help your body to detox in the safest way possible.
As a Personal Trainer, I have seen situations time and time again, when women are doing everything they can "right". They eat well, they exercise appropriately, and they get adequate rest. But despite having "the trio" under control, the changes they want to see happen aren't happening. This is where the Naturopath / FMP, additional testing, and the detox come in. Because sometimes, your body needs extra help! Your body serves you your whole life, so why not show it some love, right? When we give our body what it needs, awesome things start to happen!
why should i detox? I'm pretty healthy...
If you already feel pretty healthy, that's cool! Detoxing is not compulsory at all! You are in control of your life and you make your own decisions.
If it was up to me, I would do a detox at the turn of each season, throughout the year. For one week, every three months, I would flood my body with nutrients and give it what it needs to do it's normal cleansing thing (only more efficiently, thanks to the extra nutrients). Think of it as a self-care protocol on top of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, to ensure my body stays balanced. Some people might want to do a slightly longer detox at Spring time so they feel great for Summer. It really is quite flexible! For me, it's also about disease control and making sure I am able to live a long and healthy life. I want to be able to do handstands and cartwheels well into my 80's (no joke!), and if I'm going to do that, I need to look after myself!
how will my body tell me that i need to detox?
Here's a few things to look out for!
I'm not here to tell you that if you experience these things, then you 100% need to detox. Nope. That's not what I do.
This list is for you to look at, and judge for yourself on whether or not you should even consider a detox for your future.
Because the last thing I want you to do, is to get hooked into something because you saw it on Instagram and you have nobody in your life that can guide you properly.
If you have ever considered doing a detox, or have thought it could be a positive thing for you to try, then I want you to feel empowered to do the research and figure out what's best for you. I want you to find trustworthy people and quality practitioners to help you towards optimal health!
"To detox, or not to detox, that is the question" (I'm pretty sure Prince Hamlet would ask that if he was a health conscious fellow!)
In my opinion, yes. People should do a quality detox under the guidance of a qualified Naturopath or Functional Medicine Practitioner. Because I'm pretty sure everyone wants to live a healthy and happy life, full of energy! How often you do your detoxing is between you and your Practitioner :)
*** Remember - a detox or any supplement protocol is never a substitute for a healthy lifestyle! ***
I'm sitting with some friends one day discussing life and all of its problems, and I get asked a question. A question that all Personal Trainers get a lot. Some people might consider it an annoying question, but I don't mind it.
"Hey Hannah, in your opinion, what's the best diet?"
It's kind of sad when I get this question because I know that there is frustration behind it. This person wants results. They've tried and tried and tried and triiieeed. They want someone to just help them already so they can move on and enjoy life!
Once upon a time, I would have referred them straight to my 6-week nutrition plan. And rightly so, it's a great plan! Sharyn didn't lose 50-ish kg on it for no reason! The doctors who actually created that plan really know their stuff and there is absolutely no reason why someone wouldn't see results if they were to complete one or more cycles of the plan.
However, I do things a little differently nowadays. Because while we would all benefit from eating the way that you learn in my 6-week nutrition plan, there's a little more to it than you'd expect. I ask a couple of questions first...
What's your body type?
The most recent desciptions of body types are Ectomorph, Mesomorph, Endomorph. Most people have no clue what these mean (or how to pronounce them). But, your body type is possibly one of THE most important things to know when it comes to nourishing your body and achieving your goals.
If you were to find out what body type you are, you'd probably be lumped into one of these categories. The thing is, you're more than likely a combination of all three body types. You'll have one "dominant" body type, and then the other two types will be shown much less within your body. For example, I am mainly a mesomorph, but I do have some traits of an ectomorph, followed by a two or three traits of endomorph.
Once you've figured out your body type, you're one step closer to knowing the best diet plan for you as an individual.
What are your goals?
What you want to achieve will dictate what kind of exercises you need to do. In order to reach those goals, we will need to nourish your body a certain way. Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to get stronger and build a bit of muscle? Do you want to build your stamina and endurance? It's important to know this, because if we don't feed you and train you correctly, you won't get the results you want.
So, what should I eat?
First up - I'm not a qualified nutritionist, dietician, or anything like that so I'm not going to give you an exact meal plan. What I can do though, is give you a few pointers for you to play around with.
Ectomorphs are those people who can eat basically anything and they still look skinny or lean. They have body types similar to Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gwyneth Paltrow. These are the kind of people who tend to lose weight very easily, and need to work hard and smart with both training and nutrition in order to gain weight and keep it on. These people typically don't do well long term on low carbohydrate or ketogenic diets, so they need to make sure they keep good quality sources of carbs in their diets so they don't burn out and cause chaos with their hormones..
Mesomorphs are people who can gain or lose fat and muscle reasonably easily, and have more of an athletic hourglass figure. Think Heidi Klum, and Lucy Liu. They tolerate lower carb diets better than their ectomorph friends, but they still need a reasonable quantity of clean carbs in their diets.
Endomorphs are our strong friends! They have great endurance, they have muscle, and out of all three body types can tolerate a lower carb count the best. Unfortunately endomorphs get a bad rap, because they do tend to hold onto their weight (fat or muscle) more than ectomorphs or mesomorphs, but do not be deceived!!! Just because you are an endomorph it does not mean that you can not have an absolutely phenomenal bod! Did you know that Serena Williams is predominantly an endomorph? She is proof that endomorphs do not need to despair. All you need to do is be diligent with your nutrition and training.
The most important thing that you can do about your diet, is make sure you are eating good quality food. Sure, healthy eating can be a bit more expensive at times, but with a little planning and foresight, healthy eating can be very affordable. And plus, wouldn't you prefer to spend a little more on healthy food now, than on doctors and specialists later when your body starts getting sick?
So, what does healthy eating look like?
a note on organic food...
Some people say that Organic food is more nutritious. Some people say it doesn't matter. Here's what's important:
The quality of the soil on / in which your food was grown is what gives your food it's nutrition.
The only way you will know if "this" carrot has more nutrients than "that" carrot, is if you have a nutrient testing device with you, and if you visit every food store and farm stall near where you live. And if you ask me, ain't nobody got time for that.
Organic farming generally is said to have more nutrients because of crop rotation. Conventional farming practices don't do that.
Organic farming is pesticide, herbicide, hormone and antibiotic free, and free range (in the case of animal farming). Conventional methods include the use of all these products, and animal farming can often be very cruel.
With this information, it would seem like Organic food is the best, most logical choice. However - do what is right for you. Do what is within your budget. Buy what is locally available for you. You have a good brain, and are capable of making the choice on whether or not you will "go organic", without judgment. And if anyone judges you, well, you don't need that in your life.
So, what is the best diet?
"The best diet is the one that fits the individual, that's also healthy for the short term AND the long term." (Dr Stephen Cabral)
There is no perfect diet, there is no "best" diet. We all need to figure out what our body responds to best not just in how we look, but in how we feel too!
If you want some helpful hints and tips on how to become a healthier eater, why not download my free ebook? And of course feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all!
I’ve been doing some serious thinking lately. About what I stand for as a Personal Trainer and how I communicate with the world.
For the majority of my career in fitness, I have focused on not only helping people change their bodies into something they are happy with, but also helping people become stronger and more capable. I have seen how focusing solely on appearances messes with people’s heads and they just end up depressed and frustrated. They feel hopeless, as if they are never going to reach their goal. This is why when people talk to me about their goals at the start of our training program, I ask them what they would actually like to do. What’s something cool that you’d like to do but have never had the strength or endurance for? Push ups on your toes? A chin up? Being able to run for 5km? Having something to focus on aside from how you look, helps you to break away from the frustrations of the scale.
I want to enable you to live a happy and healthy life. Not to focus on a magical number that when reached, it will magically bring happiness. That magical number doesn’t bring happiness. It brings a pressure to maintain that number. It brings the possibility of disordered behaviour. Last time I checked, that’s not the dictionary definition of happiness!
I read a post on social media recently that got me thinking. Even more than I already do! ? One of the ladies I follow announced that she was no longer doing “before and after” photos of herself. She gave a great explanation why and I thought how I’d probably enjoy that too. It fits well with my principle of not focusing solely on how we look, but more so on how we move and how we feel. There is freedom in that decision.
One thing that I have struggled with, is that “before and after” photos are a great way to track your progress, especially when the number on the scale isn’t doing what you want it to. They can be a powerful motivator to keep going when you’re wondering if all this effort is paying off. It can be an amazing reminder of just how awesome you are because you stuck with it, worked hard, and reached your goal. "Before and after" photos are a celebration!
Another thing that I have always struggled with, is the thought that as a PT, my body is my business card. Yeah, it is. But there’s a lot to my service that you can’t see on a photo of me looking my best (or, not quite my best!).
Yes - my appearance as a PT matters. Because, when you look at me you decide if I am a nice person. You decide if you are willing to entrust your own body (and your finances) into my care. You decide if you can trust me with your insecurities. That is a big deal!
I’m not going to stop taking and sharing photos in an informal way. I will still encourage my team members to take photos periodically, depending on their goals, but not focus on them too much. But for me, I think I’ll stop with the “before and afters”. In the words of someone rather famous, “I am who I am”. It’s where I’m at. And I hope that one day, you’ll be here with me too ?
When I consult with people about their health and fitness goals, I often get objections. Such as:
I find that really sad. And it makes me want to ask questions (in a genuine, heartfelt way. Not judgey, because that's not how I roll.)
For one thing - we are all given the same amount of time in a day. Think about it - how much time do you spend asleep? How much time do you spend getting ready for work, and working? What do you do in the evening?
And what about money? I know what it's like to be on a tight budget. For most of my working life I have worked two jobs. I know what it's like to think "Well I'll just have to put money aside for this bill and catch up on that bill next week." Once again, think about it. Do you budget? Do you "wing it" and hope for the best? How much money do you spend on coffee or dinners out each week?
When I get told these two objections, I actually hear something completely different.
"I don't have time" can be translated into:
"I'm not sure how I feel about what you're suggesting. My life is busy and I don't want to get started on something that I know I won't finish. I know I won't finish it because I haven't finished it in the past. I'm scared I will waste my money and be no better off. I'll stick with what I'm doing because it feels safe."
"I don't have the money" can be translated into:
"I don't want to spend money on something when I'm not confident of the outcome. I'm scared I will waste my money and be no better off. I'm scared because I've been burned before and I don't know if I can trust you with my money, my body, and my results. I'll stick with what I'm doing because it feels safe."
Do you know what I hear in those objections? Self doubt. Because of what has happened in the past, you want to protect yourself from having it happen again. You tell me and you tell yourself why it won't work. But doubting yourself will not help you reach your goals. Doubt is a dream killer. Doubt prevents us from living the happiest and healthiest lives possible.
As a Personal Trainer, what I want you to know is this:
That's all. All you need to do now is start to believe it too.
As a Personal Trainer, people tell me "I struggle with motivation". That means they've forgotten their "why". Your "why" is your most powerful tool when it comes to staying on track and making progress. Your "why" is powerful, because it has emotion attached to it.
How many of you want to "lost fat and tone up"? Why do you want to lose fat and tone up? So you can look in the mirror and be happy with what you see? Are you tired of feeling disappointed in yourself? Are you tired of lacking energy? Does it scare you to think about what you health will be like in the future?
Look at those questions. They're pretty powerful, right? Don't ever, ever, be afraid to be honest with yourself and your trainer about why you want to reach your goals. Your relationship with your trainer should be one of total honesty, without judgment. They need to know your why in order to help you.
I'll be honest with you. One of my why's is directly related to my health. I believe in God, and I believe what the Bible says about God wanting us to live good, healthy and happy lives.
A few years back, in the space of a year, six people in my life died. It was a pretty heavy year emotionally. But as hard as it was, I learned a lot. I started making decisions to promote my health and that of my family. Of course there was the usual times when I would do really well and then times when I would struggle: such is grief. But the wheels were rolling and I was on the right track.
I don't have control over how my life and my health will go. But what I do have control over, is how I look after myself. That involves getting enough rest, exercising regularly, eating healthy, and making sure I have time for myself and also my husband. I believe being healthy is my God-given right, as well as yours.
I remember before I started exercising regularly, I had no evidence of any biceps, whatsoever! It really was quite sad. But the day I noticed a little bit of shape starting to appear on my upper arm was awesome! Now don't get me wrong, my current biceps are not that impressive at all, nor have they ever been, but I know how far I have come and I am very happy!
Strength comes in so many forms and it's not until you lose your strength that you realise how important it is. During the times of intense grief I experienced a few years back, I did lose a lot of physical strength and fitness in general. At the time it was daunting to think about how much work I needed to do to regain what was lost. But, I knew what I wanted to achieve with my body, and even though it was a struggle, physical strength has been regained. I want to be strong, and I know that God wants that for me too. I want to be strong enough to help my husband at our workshop. I want to be strong enough to open jars. I want to be able to do cool stuff like chin ups! I want to be strong enough to control my body in all sorts of activities and positions. I am worth my strength and so are you.
One thing I enjoy is watching sprinters run. I love the explosivity, the intensity, the all-or-nothing-ness. Imagine the adrenaline they must feel as they line up and prepare for the starting gun to fire. Having that mental focus to keep it all together, while having a body that must be ready to go in an instant must be an crazy feeling! I'm no sprinter, I'm not very good at it at all, but I do love the feeling of having my body in a state of rest, and then feeling my muscles respond to go as fast as I can - now!!!
My favourite sport in the world is gymnastics. Unfortunately I haven't been able to train as consistently as I would like, but I just love it! There's nothing quite like it! Not only do you require physical strength, control, coordination, speed, but you also need mental mastery. When you're standing ten metres (or more) down the runway, looking down at the vault, everything in your body is telling you "no, it's not a good idea to run at full speed towards that thing". Time and time again you commit (and you must commit), time and time again it won't feel right, but there will be that one time where you perform your vault just right, it feels almost effortless :) Now, that's a pretty sweet feeling! As for being upside down on a four-inch plank of wood 125cm off the ground? That commands some mental and physical control too! And yeah, it's pretty scary falling off a beam, but holding that perfectly balanced handstand is worth it.
How can I achieve these things if I'm not fit enough? How can a sprinter win a race, or a gymnast perfect their routines if they haven't put in the work and brought their bodies to a superior level of ability? Being fit and capable is a testament to how awesome our bodies are. And that is what I want. I want to say "thanks" to God for giving me an awesome body by being able to perform well in whatever I choose to pursue.
I admit it. I'm a FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I love having fun and I hate missing out! I want to be capable so that when my friends say they are going indoor rock climbing, then I feel confident in my abilities to give it a try. I want to be capable so that if my friends decide to go to a high ropes course, play golf for the day, or go to a trampoline park, then I can go too! I want to enjoy my life, and that means being capable for any situation.
Do you know what you want, and why you want it?
We have now learned about the anatomy of our hips, and also why a 30 day squat challenge isn’t necessarily the best thing since sliced bread for our booties. Let’s learn about exercises that will definitely help our entire lower body – old and new exercises alike! Let’s get to the fun stuff!!
Yes – I’m including the squat! Why? Because despite the fact that it doesn’t engage your glutes a massive amount, it’s still a good exercise. We want balance, so that means using a variety of exercises.
How to do it:
I love deadlifts!! People say that deadlifts are dangerous and can cause injury, but in reality if your ego gets in the way of any exercise, or if you just don’t perform it properly, of course anything can be dangerous and cause injury! That is common sense.
The action we want to perform is a hinging movement. Think about a hinge on a door. Both ends stay straight while the bit in the middle does the bending. This is the same for your body: your back and legs stay in the same position while your hip joint does the "bending".
How to do it:
Another helpful hint when it comes to deadlifting – don’t go past your current level of flexibility. If you can’t get the weight lower than your knees (or any other part of your legs) without rounding your back, don’t go any lower. Work within your current flexibility, it will improve over time if you’re stretching. You don’t want to risk injuring yourself because you wanted to go lower and be more impressive than the person next to you.
Lunges and other single leg exercises are awesome! Great for balance (as in, standing-on-one-foot-without-wobbling balance, and also strength balance between your left and right sides), but also co-ordination too! Nobody wants to live life feeling like a Gumpy Gilbert, right? Your training will not be complete without working your body in different stances and foot positions, so don’t leave these ones out!
Lunges are awesome because they can be used in different directions to hit all the different muscles within your lower body. Because we want to train smart and keep our body challenged, we will cover all of these lunge variations in our training sessions.
How to do it:
Glute bridges are the most basic form of the best glute exercise I have ever done. Glute bridges (and other similar exercises) are awesome because they make your muscles work when the muscle fibres are at their shortest – which is actually when your glutes work their best. All of these other exercises we have gone over are working the muscles when the fibres are extended or elongated. For efficiency’s sake, it makes sense to include both kinds of these exercises to get the best results, right?
How to do it:
It is super important that you only raise your hips off the ground as far as they will naturally go. And by that I mean, don’t squeeze, raise your hips, and then think to yourself that you need to go higher, and arch your back to do so. If you arch your back, you release your core which is a recipe for a back injury (mild or major). Keep your core engaged and the curve in your spine neutral, and you can be sure you are focusing on your glutes only.
So there you have it – four exercises that will work much better than only one! If you want to maximise your results, contact me here!
* Tony Gentilcore said that.
In my previous blog, we looked at the anatomy of our hips and the actions of the hip joint. From that, we can see why squats alone won’t achieve optimal hip function, let alone achieve the coveted “booty”.
A 30-day squat challenge will help you to build basic strength in your hips and thighs. Heck – it may even help you to start changing the shape of both your legs and butt. But there are a few things you should know about squats as an exercise, as this will affect your results.
A squat is actually more of a leg exercise than a glute exercise. The activation time of your glutes while squatting is minimal. The lower your squat, the more glute involvement you will get. But, we all reach the same point in our squat where our leg muscles take over. As our legs straighten, our legs muscles bear the load, leaving our glutes relatively inactive. This is true especially when you don’t stand up properly at the end of the movement. In a squat, your glutes work hardest when the muscle fibres are extended, and they don’t stay extended for long.
A squat is a "quad-dominant" exercise. This means that the main muscles in the exercise is your quads, or your thighs. If you have a postural imbalance caused by tight hip flexors or quads, squats may not be the best exercise for you. First, we need to address imbalances through stretching and activating the appropriate muscles through specific exercises. Physios and other therapists can help us with this. We also need to make sure you are performing the exercise correctly. If you have a postural imbalance, or your form isn’t correct, doing an exercise repeatedly over a period of time will only train a dysfunction, and it will wreak havoc on your body sooner or later. Trust me! I’ve been there and done that! This is one of the main reasons why getting help from someone more qualified than yourself is so important. At minimum, we all need someone to check our posture and assess our movement. From here we can learn how to correct imbalances, and exercise the best way for our individual bodies.
A 30-day challenge may sound good, but is it actually right for you? There's a good possibility it’s not.
What’s up next for our final booty blog? Click here to find out exactly what combination of exercises are going to get you strong, head-turning glutes!
I have a confession…
Those closest to me know my pet peeves. One of my hugest pet peeves is the myth that “to get a booty, you need to squat”. This, amongst other fitness myths, makes me fuming mad.
Why? It screams ignorance. And if it’s not ignorance, it’s misinformation. Unfortunately, the insta-famous with no real qualifications, are the loudest voices of this misinformation. But – it’s not just the insta-famous who are shouting this from the rooftops. This misinformation can also be found in many professional groups and networks. Sigh… I know this little old blog is probably not going to change the world, but if I can educate a few people, I will be very happy.
This blog is the first of a three part series, and in part one we will address why only squatting will not get you that coveted booty. We will learn about the hip muscles so you can see why one exercise alone is not going to make magic happen. Why? Because you have a good brain, and knowledge is power.
So: why is squatting not going to help you get a booty? A number of reasons. Don’t get me wrong – squatting will help, but the anatomy of your hip musculature is much more complex than to have only one movement pattern create a desired look.
The Anatomy of your Hips…
This is the largest, most superficial muscle of your butt (on the left). This is the muscle that gives you a great shape! It is responsible for movements such as hip extension (standing up straight, torso and legs in a straight line). It is also responsible for rotating your toes (and leg) outward while your torso is facing forward. Think about how dancers stand up straight with their toes pointing out… that’s their glutes working!
Glute medius lies underneath the glute max, between the upper crest of your pelvis and your hip joint (the middle image). It handles keeping your hip stable and aligned when standing on one foot (walking, lunging, balancing, etc). Raising the leg away from the middle of your body out to the side, and also rotating your leg inwards and outwards, is also one of its jobs.
Glute minimus is the smallest and also the deepest of all the glute muscles within your hips (seen on the right). It works with glute medius to move your leg away from the middle of your body, as well as rotating your leg inwards.
When you look at the anatomy of the hips, and the ways the muscles move your legs, you can see why squatting alone won’t achieve optimal hip function, let alone the ideal shape. Yes, squats will help, but it’s not the only exercise to reach your goal with.
What’s up next in part two? Click here to find out why 30-day challenges might not be the best idea to get you the booty of your dreams!
(Image courtesy of https://breakingmuscle.com/view-image?src=images/bydate/201501/glutealanatomy.jpg)
I'm not the same person I was one year ago. Especially not ten years ago.
I grew up in a good family. Just normal, everyday people. I was fortunate enough to do gymnastics as a child, but overall my teenage years and my early 20's were quite sedentary. If you told people I knew during that time that I have become a Personal Trainer, they'd definitely be surprised!
Our lives are journeys. Now, I don't like using that word. It seems a bit mammy-pamby to me, but it's true. We don't stop growing or once we reach physical and mental maturity. We stop growing when we die.
Think about it. Identity is important. What makes you, you? For some of us, this is an easy question to answer, but for many, it's quite difficult. I see myself as intelligent, fun, compassionate, determined. As females, we grow up with a focus on external appearances. This isn't a huge deal. There's absolutely nothing wrong with telling a young girl she looks lovely in her new outfit, or that she has beautiful eyes. However, if these comments aren't balanced, we can subconsciously "train" our young girls to think that it is super important to be beautiful, and that if we don't look good, then there is something wrong. I know that this isn't the intention of people, because sometimes you just don't know what to talk about with young kids, so why not talk about clothes? But I think we need to realise the importance of celebrating other parts of ourselves too. This also goes for boys, in their own unique way.
Personally, I enjoy getting genuine compliments from my husband and other people in my life about my appearance. Of course I want to look nice, I want to present well. But to have someone genuinely compliment my intelligence or my skills really hits the spot! It means so much to know that "I am more than just a pretty face". Because just like Neghar Fonooni says in the image above:
We have been blessed with amazing bodies. The things our bodies are capable of really does astound me. My body has given me the ability to think, create, perform, transform. That's pretty freakin' cool.
This is true and I am so so grateful for the ability to change. Hindsight is a great thing, and while I was happy in my sedentary teenage years and early twenties, what I have learned and applied to my life has made me so much happier. I have great satisfaction, knowing that I now have the knowledge to help myself and do the right thing by myself. And I get to help people learn what I have learned too. That's awesome!
Don't get me wrong. The changes that have taken place in me in the last 15-20 years have come with their challenges, and in a way they are still challenging me. But, if change was simple, it kinda would be boring, right?
I have a bit of an inferiority complex. Sometimes, I don't feel like a "proper adult". I look at other people my age, and they have nice clothes, fancy watches, they even have clothes that require ironing. I like being barefoot, wearing my Muppets t-shirt, relying on my phone as a time piece, and doing handstands wherever possible and whenever appropriate. But you know what? I accept that I don't conform to my own ideas of how a "proper adult" looks and behaves because I am happy, and I bring value to the world in my own unique way. If I was to have a job that required me to wear heels everyday (yuck!), have a full face of make up, do my hair (as in, more than brush it!), and wear a dress, I would not like it. I might enjoy the novelty of it for a short while but I'm pretty sure that after a couple of hours I'd get sick wondering if I had lipstick on my teeth. I love the fact that I am me, my husband loves me as I am, and that it's ok to not conform to anyone's mould.
I am Hannah. I am fun. I love gymnastics. I love food. I love sleep. I am intelligent. I like learning about the human body. I like learning about how things work. I work on cars with my husband. I love wearing casual clothes but I also love getting dressed up - occasionally. And I love the mould I have created for myself. I challenge you to do the same.