Am I cut out for this?

by Melissa on December 6, 2012

Today, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and open up about something I have discovered over the past few months. It is one of those “take a deep breath and hit ‘publish’” type posts, and I have two hopes for this post:

  1. That by writing this out and allowing the world to see, I can finally face my demons and simply move on.
  2. That by writing this, I am helping anyone else out there that feels the way I do find some peace.

One of the classes I took this semester was a behavioral modification course, and it required that I maintain a coach-client relationship with another student in the class. That made me incredibly uneasy. I secretly prayed I could pair up with a friend who had a similar goal as me. Why?

Because that would have been easier.

The instructor chose our partners for us, however, and I was paired up with a 20 year old male “client” who happened to have played a bit of college football. In other words, he was already familiar with training, is still in very good shape, and his goal was to bulk up “for the ladies”. (This totally cracks me up. Remember those days? And no, I can’t believe I just referred to college as “those days”.) He was exactly the type of person with whom I didn’t want to be paired up.

Yet, do you want to know what this partnership did for me? It hoisted me clear out of my comfort zone.

What in the world do I have to offer this guy?

***

It was just a little over a year ago that I wrote about how I accepted myself – that I had truly become comfortable with who I am and what I look like. Today, however, I am facing a tiny bit of a relapse on that. There, I admitted it. (Keep up with me here…I may get a little scatterbrained on you.) Yes, I still need to lose some pounds. Yes, I still have a hard time practicing mindfulness. On the other hand, we all have struggles, and this just happens to be mine. It always has been, and I have come to realize that it will be something I will always have to work on. Twenty-something years of mindless, emotional eating cannot be “cured” overnight, and it is natural for setbacks to happen. However, I have enough confidence in myself to get right back up and keep on keeping on. I am the “comeback kid”, right? Two steps forward, one step back. (This is not me coming up with excuses for the mistakes I make, but it is me realizing that I have to forgive myself for being human.)

I struggle. So what?

By now, most of you know the story behind what drives me and why I decided to work in this industry and what I hope to do with the certifications I receive. Now that I have the NASM certification complete, I feel accomplished. Step one of the plan is complete. However, there is still a tiny, nagging, negative demon within me, and it comes out on occasion and reminds me of all the work I have yet to do on my own body.

I do not have unrealistic goals, though. I don’t strive to look like someone else. I don’t work out in order to obtain a specific body shape. I have come a long way. Yet, the one thing that seems to trigger the negative self-talk is personal training. Yes. This does mean I have questioned whether being a PT will be good for me. The answer?

Yes.

I know plenty of PT’s, and yes, most of them look like the people that get plastered all over inspiration boards. The problem I am seeing, though, is that inspiration is still coming from an image when it should be coming from the lifestyle. It is entirely unrealistic for me to strive to look like this woman. She is nearly 6’ tall, and her genes are entirely different from mine. Do I think she has an incredible body? Abso-freaking-lutely. But I find motivation in her lifestyle rather than her body. Her attitude and energy is contagious. I have watched this woman and this woman transform their bodies. Do I think they have incredible bodies? Abso-freaking-lutely. But what inspires me most is their openness about the amount of time and patience is requires to find balance and provoke change. (I haven’t even clipped the iceberg on this one. I am surrounded by a tremendous community of beautiful bodies that house inspiring souls.)

So why is it that when it comes to seeing myself as a trainer, I focus on my own body? Why do I find inspiration in others’ accomplishments, attitudes, and dedication rather than their bodies and not find the same in myself? I do not have an answer to that question. I hope to find it, though, and that explains why I decided to hit ‘publish’ on this post.

***

This semester’s project dragged me right out of my comfort zone and made me face my fear of the fact that I do not fit the typical image of a personal trainer. It, however, made me realize that I have far more to offer others than I think. Yes, physical appearance is most likely going to be the first thing a client notices, but there are two sides to everything. At times, I forget that I have lost 70 pounds, that I ran a half marathon, or that I am a fantastic source of information. (Toot, toot!) I forget that I’ve come back from a very dark place. I’m the “been there, done that” (and still doing that) trainer. I am not here to help people try and reach unrealistic goals. I am here to help people who need to understand that it can be done, but that it takes time and no one is perfect. I do not expect to be perfect, and I do not expect to never feel negatively again. I do expect, however, to work on acknowledging what I have to offer.

I realized all of this when I was asked to reflect on what I felt I learned from this project and what I felt needed improvement. I realized that there will be a number of times when I question whether I am cut out for this or not, and there will be a number of times when I question whether I “look the part”. I am learning, slowly but surely, that there will never be a perfect coach, but there will always be perfect-for-someone coaches. So my plan is simple:

To know what I bring to the table…and use it.

(So how was that for all over the place?)

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenna December 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

You are absolutely amazing!!!! This is one of the most inspiring posts I have read in ages!! I can’t believe how much you have accomplished!! Never ever sell yourself short! You are a better pt than most because you can be relatable and understand your clients struggles so well!! You should be so proud of yourself!!! You are doing so much and will change so many lives!!! Keep working hard and being awesome!!! Spa <3

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Isn’t it funny how an open show of weakness can inspire people? I swear this is what I love most about this community – you’re never alone. Thank you so much for your kind words, Jenna.

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Ari @ Ari's Menu December 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

Anything meaningful and worth doing will come with all of these questions. All of your personal life experience really is what’s going to make you a great trainer and you’re going to be able to help so many people get out of their own dark places!

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

You know, one thing I learned the other night in one of my classes was that if a trainer ever gets to the point where he/she knows so much that he/she couldn’t get any more competent, then he/she isn’t in it for the right reasons and probably doesn’t have the passion and concern to move forward anymore. There’s so much to learn, so much to be humble about…thank you. :)

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Kathy Mower December 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

All of the things you just mentioned are going to make you more relateable to your future clients. My husband is in really good shape. Always has been and I’m 100% sure he always will be. He doesn’t understand why I don’t just get it together and do whatever it takes at whatever cost to get there. It’s not like that for me. I didn’t grow up working out. In fact, I was put on diet pills when I was 16. That was my introduction to the health world. I don’t have a deep seeded habit of working out that he does. I’m having to make my own habit from scratch. Yes, there are probably women in better shape than you but those women probably have no idea what losing 70 pounds FEELS like. The hurt and struggle and the sometimes self loathing. They don’t get it. They can’t empathize and they probably can’t sympathize either. All they see is a fat person standing in front of them that just need to get their shit in a pile and do it. They don’t understand all that goes along with it. You do and, that, my beautiful friend, is a gift.

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Kathy Mower December 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Oh and your target client will more than likely not ever be a 20 something boy looking to bulk up for the ladies so don’t worry about that.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:20 pm

He cracked me up, Kathy. lol

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:29 pm

It’s so strange to sit here and re-read this comment and know that all that you said are thoughts I’ve had – even when I’m questioning what I’ve got. Is that strange? I know the benefits of being who I am and what I bring to the table, and it’s just crazy that I can know all of that and still question myself.

I was introduced to the diet world when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I remember making Slim Fast shakes and taking on the cabbage soup diet. (No, I’m not kidding. My mom totally went on it with me.)

Thank you so much for your support, momma. Like Lisa (below), you’ve been there since basically day one of this whole journey, and to know you believe in me and see all of the above despite all the setbacks you’ve seen me go through…it means the world to me.

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Krysten Siba Bishop (@darwinianfail) December 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

YOU ARE FABULOUS!! AND YOU ARE FABULOUS JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!

I can totally relate to these ideas of self-doubt. But it is those struggles that make us stronger and even more Badass!

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:30 pm

I am actually about to go read up on your story…I’ve got it bookmarked, and I feel terrible that I haven’t read it, but all I know is I remember immediately thinking, “Jesus! She was just as beautiful as she is now! That smile!” I’m ready to just hit my goal…I want it. So bad.

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The Get In Shape Girl December 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Girlfriend, I firmly believe we were all put here for a reason, and every struggle we have ever had was for a reason. I have no doubt that all of this has lead you to personal training so you can help others.

The great thing about being a personal trainer is that over time you can come to learn what you like and don’t like, and the kind of person that you are suited to train. Then network and seek out the people you feel you can help the most.

The universe will pull you together with that person or those people and you will be able to help others be successful.

Have faith and confidence – this is all happening for a reason.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:33 pm

I love this comment…so much. “The universe will pull you together with that person or those people and you will be able to help others be successful.” I can’t wait for that. Seriously. To see my work shine through in others. <3

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Larissa December 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Great quote: “So why is it that when it comes to seeing myself as a trainer, I focus on my own body?”

I’ve struggled with this, too, and I’m not going through training that puts another whole level of pressure on what your body looks like. You are definitely the kind of trainer I would be more drawn to. Just one conversation, and I would be sold. I want to work with someone who’s overcome some significant physical challenges (like losing that much weight!), rather than someone who has a metabolism that has always kept them slim. Not to downplay all the work “thin” people have put into their bodies to be strong and fit at all! I just can’t relate to that; a trainer with a background and openness like you… that fits me.

Good luck! :-) SPA <3

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Thank you SO much, Larissa. SO very much. I’m not sure why I can look at all other trainers and NOT base my thoughts and assessments of them on their physical appearance…but then be so harsh on myself. It’s pretty much here that I’m admitting I have stereotyped the PT.

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Lorna December 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Absolutely love this post. We all struggle and I appreciate the honesty in it. :-)

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm

And I’m so glad you like the honesty. I’ll tell ya…I’ve been brutally honest around these parts. lol

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erin December 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Great post! I believe you are on to something…you are the perfect-for-someone coach and I think knowing what you bring to the table helps you to find that perfect someone.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I think that this is all it really boils down to…no one trainer is going to be the perfect trainer for everyone. There must be a connection, and I try to remember that every time I think of the very first moments I decided to start moving forward. You just need the right people in your corner.

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erin December 13, 2012 at 11:47 am

From the posts on this blog, I’d say you have a whole lot of right people in your corner. :) Happy holidays!

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Heather (Where's the Beach) December 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm

But in ways you fit the mold completely – you’ve been where your client will be. You know the struggles they’re going through. You will be very relateable to them. I hope that makes sense. You have to be confident, however. You just have to know that you do know your stuff and that you can help them. And I think that will come with time as you get more and more comfortable in that role. I won’t lie, part of why I’ve yet to even go for my cert. Will I be any good? So you’re not alone and you’ll be fine I promise!!

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Jen December 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Great post and so true! We are all meant to inspire someone and we just need to figure out what are greatness is :)

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Exactly. ;) And apparently, I’m still trying to figure out mine. ;)

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misszippy December 6, 2012 at 5:33 pm

Love this–what a great way to get out of your comfort zone and see what you are all about. Good for you!

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Thank you so much, Amanda. :)

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Pavement Runner December 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

YOU ARE DOING YOUR THING! And you are doing it for the right reasons. Running IS NOT easy for me. Yes, I can run far and I’m getting faster, but it has taken me 6+ years to get here AND plenty of setbacks. I’m not a tall, slim runner who can bust out a sub-7 mile with ease. It takes me lots of training to get there. I dedicate myself to making myself healthier and stronger, for similar reasons as yourself (the first lady).

I get more inspiration from fitness folks that have to WORK for it, rather than having it come naturally. I think EVERYONE has to put in the time and effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It isn’t EASY for anyone. Some of us just have to work harder.

YOU. INSPIRE. ME.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 9:40 pm

You know what’s wild? I totally assume that running is easy for you…you bust out miles left and right, rarely ever complaining about it. What I didn’t know is that you’ve been doing this for 6+ years. For some people it is a totally easy sport…and for me, and apparently you!, it takes more. It’s so great knowing that a fabulous runner like yourself can relate to me this way.

PS: I LOVE that you’re doing this for your First Lady. It’s crucial for a momma to be healthy for her little girls, but it’s just as important for their daddies, too. My girls are old enough now to be able to tell when something is unhealthy…I always worry about my dad and his health and making sure he’s being active and such. I love that you do that for her!

Thank you. So much.

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Jess December 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Here’s the thing — I actually don’t really LIKE the traditional ‘facade’ if you will that the typical personal trainer puts on. The “you want to look like ME, right?’ saunter, the training by having the client strive to fit a certain mold, certain body type, certain IMAGE, as you said. (and I realize I’m painting with a GIANT brush here but bear with me) I’d MUCH rather a trainer be someone who is there to coach, guide, steer — in the direction that their client wants to go: if they want to feel stronger and more confident, work on their posture and back strength. If they want to be able to arm wrestle their husband (hehe), work on their biceps. I know I’m making assumptions and making generic statements in some ways, but I guess this is my rambly way of saying YOU are the person I’d want in my corner. The person who would guide me MY way, not THEIR way, who would coach and mentor and inspire. THAT is the kind of personal trainer I see you as — less the typical ‘PT’ and more the life coach I totally see you as.

Annnd now I’m a rambly fool over here LOL
I hope this makes sense!!

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I think that’s what people are so used to seeing…the “you want to look like ME, right?” types. I know that’s what I always pictured, too, and what I love most about this community we’re in, is that we’re breaking that stereotype one person at a time. There is no mold. there is no cookie cutter. We’re all so very different.

I love your rambles. Always have. We ramble very similarly, yes?

I love you, friend.

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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean December 7, 2012 at 6:06 am

i’ve come back to this post no less than 10 times trying to figure out what to say in a comment. I can’t stop thinking about it. i still haven’t figured it out, but for now, i just want you to know that you’re amazing. that stereotypes are meant to be broken, that you’ve accomplished more already than a lot of people do in a life time…and that you should never let anyone, including yourself, make you feel like you’re not doing the right thing by following your dreams! xoxo

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

No less than 10?? :) Woah!

When I got your card in the mail, it was a reminder of just how important it is to chase dreams. It was a reminder that I have some very special people in my corner, cheering me on, waiting for me to go for my next big thing. And then I have moments where I forget about that…and find myself in a moment of weakness. It’s not fun. It’s a bit embarrassing at times and yet, I love those moments…because coming out of them is what makes it worth it.

Thank you for being there for me…and for being such a huge part of my support system.

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jobo December 7, 2012 at 1:24 pm

First – I love you for the fact that you inspire ME in so many ways, yet to see you point to me and Jess as those that inspire you body-wise, is incredibly humbling. THANK you friend.
Second – I agree with Heather, you have BEEN in your clients shoes. You haven’t always been fit and healthy. You haven’t ‘had it easy’ in that department and that is relatable and something that isn’t learned, it is innate and those stereotypical trainers and facades of those ‘you wanna look like me’ (to Jess’s point, hate those too!) are such turnoffs. That isn’t approachable. That isn’t inspiring and that certainly isn’t going to make someone progress. Inspiration and passion will. You have all of the tools and then some, to do this. I am so proud of you.

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Ilene December 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I am loving your message as always. And yes, you will make the perfect coach for the right clients and lifestyle trumps image any day in my book. Also, I believe we teach what we need to learn. this is personal for you so you will make it personal for your clients. That is how it should be.

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Christine @ Love, Life, Surf December 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Like Lindsay, I’ve come back and reread this post a number of times trying to figure out what I want to say. Basically it’s this – you inspire me. You have accomplished so much and have made so many strides. I mean, just look at the beginning of this post and the love and acceptance and acknowledgement that you have for where you are and the challenges you (all of us really) face. I second what Jo and Heather said about you being in your clients shoes – you know the struggles and challenges. Frankly, I find the typical stereotype trainer annoying because a lof of them haven’t been through that or don’t understand.

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Lisa @ I'm an Okie December 8, 2012 at 11:15 am

You may not fit the typical “image” of a PT, BUT, I think that is a big advantage for you! You are obviously healthy, and you have a wonderful story behind your “journey” to health.

You are relatable. People will gravitate towards your attitude and your story. You can relate firsthand to every single one of your clients. You know what hard work is.

you’ve got ALL the tools to be successful. Keep taking those steps forward, even if you have a step back every once in a while. Ever since I’ve known you, despite the “steps back”, you’ve always been moving forward.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:15 pm

You, friend, are one of the few people who have known me since the VERY beginning. The LEGIT beginning. The day I signed up for O2 was a great one in that I met a wonderful woman and friend like you. It means the world to me to know that after all these years and all the setbacks and such, you see me this way. I thank you for that…it means the world to me.

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Clare @ Fitting It All In December 10, 2012 at 9:44 am

AWESOME post. You’re great lady – the people that you want to work with with value you because you are smart, motivating, and a great example.

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Thank you, Clare. :)

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Becki December 13, 2012 at 8:39 am

I’m so glad you posted this. I’m also hoping to become a personal trainer and the “image” of what one should be held me back for a long time. I also still have days where I think “What could someone hope to learn from me?” but then I remember all of the people who have already reached out to me and told me that they’ve learned a lot from my experience and struggles. I do have a lot to offer and so do you! We all have those doubts and demons, but getting past them is the most important thing.

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Michele December 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Wow! This is exactly what I’m going through right now, I could have written it. I’ve taken a years worth of classes and have applied for a grad program in Exercise Science. I’m kinda hoping I don’t get accepted because I’m intimidated by the other students and my professors who are tremendously accomplished and experienced. I’m not the fastest or the thinnest or the strongest or the smartest. I think I’m just average and worried that I’m way out of my league.

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