One of the best moments of my life was meeting Richard Simmons. He actually took the time to sit down with me at his studio, and talk health. After meeting him three times, he became someone who I felt understood my genuine passion for health and making people understand how beautiful life is, and how amazing life can be if you just care for your body.
One of the worst was getting this tweet
It just stared at me from cyber space. I was bullied for being overweight in grade school, and here it was again.
My journey started when I decided six weeks ago to get as lean as I could for a photoshoot. A shoot I dreaded thanks to being an overweight kid. At 6'3" and 240lbs I decided I wanted to lose about 1.5 per cent of my body weight a week with the addition of a little more cardio, and being very careful not to eat a few of my favourite treats (Dr. Pepper and Papa John's pizza, specifically).
I was born and raised country, hence the truck in the background, and my love for a hard day's work and a big meal.
Not perfect, but I was proud. More important, I can run a mile and a half in under 10 minutes, do 18 chin ups, and 60 push ups in 60 seconds. My resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute, and at 32 years of age my blood pressure is 115/80. I could go on, but suffice it to say the measures of health that matter in my blood are all in order. I'm healthy, all the time, I get checked by the doctor regularly because I was diagnosed as a child as having leukemia. Both my parents just battled and beat cancer within the last two years.
Maybe this guy is right... maybe I shouldn't try to inspire or motivate. Maybe I should shut down www.onefitcity.com .
My original plan for this article was to talk about fat shaming. I was going to do it based on the viral photo of Maria Kang. Fortunately for me and my writing career, I got publicly made fun of, had my integrity questioned, and had a decade worth of work feel worthless to me. It also brought up memories of being teased as a grade school kid. Funny thing, October is anti-bullying month, guess this person didn't get the memo. Kindness is the best weapon humanity has against evil.
All thanks to one tweet, from someone I don't know, here we are. Instead of fighting, I decided on a different approach. Here's a unique perspective on fat shaming and bullying... mine. You can thank @CoachV_HLF for me sharing it.
I think I can be some help to both sides of this fat shaming issue. Maybe we can all start coming together on this thing and start to fix the problem. I see it often, fitness models and ex athletes who decide to go into personal training with no education. They know what they know well, the only problem is sometimes it's only half the information or wrong information. They treat everyone like an athlete and forget the basics. The basics I learned in first year University, and built an education on. There are a lot of great trainers who don't get degrees. There are also a lot of bad trainers with degrees. You need to find one that will respect you, work with you, and you trust. If they fly in the face of experts, rethink giving them your business.
This fat shaming problem is a lot like when people in love fight. They both want the best for each other, as long as what's best for the other person is what they want.
Fights usually come from a lack of compromise. That's what we see in the fat shaming debate. Most people in the fitness industry without a degree don't understand physiology, psychology, or what a healthy norm is. That means most negative trainers won't take into consideration a few things.
1) Love of fitness and it's importance in life -- Psychology
2) Commitment to avoiding "extra" foods, sugary foods, pre-packaged foods -- Psychology
2) Desire to compete -- Psychology and physiology
For some people in this world, fitness is just not a priority. It's never been, and it never will be. Those people simply will never look like a fitness model. They'd rather be at home with family, sitting down and working on artistic crafts, or doing things that require a keen eye and a talent to make this world more beautiful. They will never look for ways to burn extra calories at the end of the night, they will look to take the perfect photograph or write the perfect story. What's there excuse as Mrs.Kang asked? Nothing, they just don't prioritize it. With this group of people, if it was up to me, I'd simply ask them to go out for walks and enjoy the world for some inspiration.
It's also important to select healthy foods and eat the right amount of foods based on a lower calorie expenditure. Will these people have a six pack, probably not. Does it matter? Nope, they provide beauty and culture to the world. It's all about perspective. When fitness professional demand high intensity training, and show photos with muscles rippling, it doesn't inspire because it's not important. For this population, and understanding psychology, all you need to do is show a painting of a beautiful sunset. The only way to see those things is to get outside and go find them. Climb a mountain, hike a trail, go outside, create a memory. Biceps don't matter, experience and memories do. You can't make a good memory if your sick in bed, or unfit to hike a trail.
There are foods that man has created that are just really really tasty. Plain and simple. For some people looking to get on the cover of a magazine, they are the devil. That's fine. But as a population just trying to get along on planet earth. Someone who loves these things, is active, eats well, but isn't concerned with everything on their body being "magazine perfect," what does it matter? I'm not saying you can eat bad food all the time. Everyone needs to show restraint. I am saying that fitness models amaze me with their ability to go weeks and months without "cheating," while most regular folks watch Monday night football, Hockey Night on Saturday, and their favourite crime drama's on Thursday. Each of those days requires a snack. Those snacks take their toll on the waist line. Some people out there knowingly eat those snacks, and don't care what the mirror says. They are not less of a human, and they are not in need of being made to feel guilty.
Some people want to be on magazine covers and in the pages of fitness magazine. You can't expect that to be everyone's goal. If I could, I'd ask the world to eat local raw vegetables, and watch their portion size at every meal. Then, make sure that they aren't going over board on junk food. At the end of the day, if someone is aware of the choices they are making, the who's to say anything negative. The only thing that bothers me, is complaining you want change and more energy, but then eating sugary snacks, or nutrient void pre-made meals. If you chose poorly, your body will show signs of it. If you put things in your body, know that the results will be negative. Eat clean so you can have energy, and total health. If you want to knowingly mess that up, be my guest. I don't want to hear about the weight you need to lose, or the constant immune system problems. That's the choice!
The best coaches talk about their athletes' compete levels. For most athletes, it's ingrained and a part of their life. For many people out there, that level of compete isn't there. There is no satisfaction in being physically dominant over another person. I made this video, it's an intense workout I did with Kito Poblah, he's a pro football player in my hometown of Winnipeg.
We both love to compete, and we both push ourselves. I have my degree, I understand that there are people who don't want to feel exhaustion, they don't want to push until they come close to puking. When I get in the gym with Kito, or other pros I train, I live for it. I'll even put a training mask on and make a hard workout harder.
I give credit to athletes with hard bodies, and to fitness models who push through plateaus. It's not in everyone. To shame someone for not wanting to do that to their body, well that's not my style. I'll show them it's achievable with my youtube video's. The decision to not do it, I respect as much as the decision to do it. This world needs all types of people. As I'm out there running with a mask on, someone needs to be doing the things I'm neglecting.
The only thing I ask, and the only reason for this article was to explain that this world needs to start being good to each other. There is no reason someone should feel anything but loved and accepted. As a trainer, I want people to know that their body can be filled with more energy, and health. There is nothing better than fueling with clean, local, fresh foods, with no sugar added. There is nothing better than a strong, functionally trained athletic body that can attack the day with confidence. I understand it is not everyone's priority, but if someone is every looking for more, I'd love to help.
There is no magic pill, there is no easy way to the end goal.
I want to leave this world in a better place than when I got here. So along with inspiring health, I'd love to inspire acceptance. I hope trainers read this, and understand different goals for everyone. I also really hope that people read this and understand personal trainers really do want whats best for you. Those who are at the mountain top, and are healthy really do just want to help you get there. Their zeal can be mistaken for hostility. It's usually not, its normally frustration that not everyone is listening.
Choice is yours. I hope you chose healthy life, understanding, and a life filled with passion and memories.