Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inspiring Woman #1 - Real Women, Real Struggles, Real Inspiration Series

It's here! The first in a series of four blog posts about real women taking control of their self-image, fitness and health.  Every other week I'll bring you a story from a woman just like you and me who is just trying to love her self, be healthy and take back the notion that we have to be "perfect" to be fit and healthy.

Meet Brittany Arroyo:

Brittany is a nationally certified personal trainer (ACSM) out of Viera, FL and has been dedicated to changing her body and self-image through heavy weightlifting. 

Brittany has a history of eating disorders and being unkind to her body.  Through her fitness and wellness journey, she has been at war with the most powerful "muscle" in her body: her mind.  

Brittany counsels clients, friends and family members about health and fitness issues and has shared what she herself and others deal with.  She also gives her personal philosophy on coaching clients with diet and exercise.

Below is Brittany's personal and candid narrative of these trials and triumphs.  

Disordered Eating/Body Dysmorphia 

"I have a long past of disordered eating and body dysmorphia. While I am much healthier now, I find myself constantly berating myself (too fat, too many calories, not strong enough, not pretty enough, the list goes on). I say things to myself that I would never imagine saying to a loved one or client,  and yet since I've started working in the fitness industry, I've heard many women (and some men) say these things aloud about themselves. Most of the time it's in a joking manner, but I recognize the hurt and pain behind it, as it is my own. 

My struggle is with myself; how do I preach body love and acceptance when I don't accept and love my own body? On the flip side, how do I encourage healthy living and weight without creating unhealthy thought patterns and habits in the process?

I don't remember a time when I've felt comfortable with my body. I stopped eating in high school.  It got to a point where my parents intervened.  They said, 'get better or we're getting you professional help.'  I did go to therapy, but I wasn't ready to deal with it.

People pass judgement that mental health is internal.  As a society, we're bombarded with images and media. Appearance is important. I was raised in a loving home with supportive parents.  I was always comparing myself to others.  I think about it everyday.

I have a PT client in her 50s.  She's really fit but wants to look better.  She told me she's had liposuction and cosmetic surgery.  She only weighs 120 pounds yet still sees a fat person in the mirror.  I want my clients to accept and better themselves.  I want them to stop seeing unmet unrealistic expectations as failure. 

I need to find balance. I'm working on that and self-awareness.  I didn't even acknowledge the problems and the thought process until 1.5 years ago.  People want to train with me because of the knowledge and experience I have.  It's funny the way other people perceive us is not how we see ourselves.

Unhealthy Patterns on Nights and Weekends

"I struggle with not falling into the binge/restrict cycle. I eat super clean on weekdays, all day long and then night-time or the weekend rolls around and I lose my dang mind. I struggle daily to find a balance between being 'on' or 'off.'" 

Teaching Healthy Habits

"Tracking and calorie counting can lead to obsessive behavior.  'Cheat days' can be very detrimental.  I give general guidelines that will work for most people.  2-3 meals a week, eat whatever you want.  I try to screen people and be aware of triggers or red flags with clients.  I keep track and find out the WHY behind why people want to lose weight or get fit. 

I feel like disordered eating is very common.  We've come to accept strange habits as normal.  Juice cleanses, restrictive food habits and 'trendy diets' are all accepted as normal.  Hollywood perpetuates them.  Every person is a personal trainer and expert.  There's so much misinformation on the internet. I only read articles with scientific notation.  If there's no study to back it up, it's just conjecture.  I give resources with legitimate professionals in the industry."   

Working Out is 'All or Nothing'

"I am fairly good about this one.  My clients and friends, not so much. I find many people think they need to workout 7 days a week for an hour or more or else it's useless and they might as well do nothing. I try to emphasize that something is always better than nothing and more is not better but better is better when it comes to fitness.

Most of my clients think that if they can't do the perfect workout, then they shouldn't bother.  Effectiveness of your workout is more important than how long it is.  I give clients at home workouts to do in their off days.  Quickie workouts to create a habit. 

Set a minimum amount of days to workout, whether at home or they gym, and stick to it.  2-3 days at a minimum is my recommendation."

Brittany's Biggest Epiphany

"Lift weights.  Nothing will change your life more than to put weights on a barbell and lift. Lifting weights is the key to looking better, feeling better and thinking better.   I'm most proud of being able to deadlift 1.5 times my body weight and squat over 200 lbs.  I feel strong and powerful."

---Brittany Arroyo, ACSM Certified Trainer
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Committed to continuing education. PT is a science and exercise changes all the time.

Thank you to Brittany Arroyo for your candid testimony and advice to women and men.  Trainers are people too and no one is perfect.  When we stop comparing ourselves to others, we can start to achieve balance.  

Please join us in two weeks for our next profile of and inspiring woman.

Inspiring Woman #2

Perri G - Wife, Mother and Full-Time Chauffeur

Perri became a mom at age 40.  Blessed beyond measure, she struggles with having time to workout, eat well and achieve balance with her mom, wife and work duties.  I think a lot of people can really relate to Perri's story.  She and her husband are trying to be good examples of self-love and healthy body image to their son.  I hope to help Perri find solutions for her busy life, and in turn, help you make exercise and meal planning a priority in your own life.

Thanks for reading my blog this week.  This project is really important to me. I think we need to be talking about our body and food issues.  The only way the rhetoric will change is if we demand it to.  Love your body.  Love your exercise.  Love yourself.

Yours in health,
Coach Stephanie
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