For so long my identity has been tied up in being a fitness trainer. At one point in my life I felt like that was my passion. And it was. But that was back in 1997 when I first started and was a lot younger. Now, I’m 45 and have been on hiatus from training clients since 2010 because I felt that the spark was gone and I needed to take a break to see if continuing in that field was really what I wanted to do. It wasn’t an overnight decision but one that had a lot of factors built into it. The irony to my story of becoming a fitness trainer is that I am also someone who has suffered from body image issues and and an eating disorder since elementary school. Of course, when I first became a trainer I saw an opportunity to finally address these issues but not in a healthy way and of course, I didn’t. I must admit though that as the years went on, my mind set shifted from doing extremely unhealthy things to achieve what was a never ending, never satisfied hamster wheel of trying to achieve what I thought I wanted to look like to ultimately liking what I look like, accepting my body fat percentage and finding new gratitude and appreciation in my athletic physique as well as encouraging and motivating my clients to truly except who they were and not pay attention to the number on the scale but instead to focus on their athletic ability and the things that they could do on a daily basis that was above the average person. Even with this shift in my mind set, in the back of my mind I still struggled, to an extent, with feeling pressured to look a certain way. Although mild, it was still there. At that point I had to really consider if being in the fitness field was truly conducive to my ongoing issues about body image and food. So I took a break. That was 6 years ago and since then I’ve taken on other endeavors in the social work field. Not becoming a social worker, but helping to re-train social workers on how to interact with families in a better way. Yes, completely different than Fitness. While I’ve been doing this work I’ve come to realize that while I still think somewhere deep down I have a passion for Fitness or at least an extreme enthusiasm for it and the desire to teach others about it, it’s not my calling so as a result, I’ve been at a crossroads ever since. I know that when you try to force something, it won’t work and people really DO need to find what it is that makes them happy. I’ve come to accept the fact that Fitness may not be my passion anymore, but it doesn’t mean I can’t be involved in it while pursuing other career choices. However my dilemma comes with the fact that I have allowed my identity to become being a trainer and being connected to the fitness world. It was one of those jobs that when people found out that’s who I was, it never failed to get a response that resembled that of envy or one of being held in high status. Although I have other interests that I would love to pursue such a psychology, technology, etc. I’m finding it really hard to do what one might call, reinvent myself. Its not just about reinvention, but also about letting go of the old and allowing the new to take place. Time is ticking and I know that I need to buckle down, focus and move forward. After all, I’m not getting any younger, I have too much potential and there’s so much left for me to do.
I heard something recently that really struck a chord within me: your identity is not in WHAT you do, but in WHO you are. For the last 5 years I’ve been somewhat at a crossroads. When I left Stanford Athletics as a fitness trainer back in 2009, I was fortunate enough financially to be able to take a couple years off and really think about the direction I wanted to go. Having been a fitness trainer since 1997 and during that time made my way up to a fitness supervisor, a fitness manager and then eventually branch out on my own with private clients and working at different clubs in different states, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue in the field or not. I realized that although I have a passion for fitness, I don’t think it’s my calling. In 2011 I branched out into a whole new field in the Social Services field as a Community Partner/Stakeholders, helping trainers re train Social Workers as well as being a part of inventing the 23 model behaviors Social Workers are suppose to start implementing when engaging families. I got so much out of working with the Social Workers and seeing a first hand look at all they go through and how overworked they are but mainly, I got joy from knowing that we (the Community Partners and Trainers) were teaching them a new way to interact with their families that could lead to kids being kept out of thet system as well as giving the skills, tools and power to the parents to help make that happen. It was a nice change from the pressures of FEELING like I have to maintain a certain superficial look when working in the health and fitness field and having my eating disorder kick into overdrive!
My dilemma however is this: their isn’t a lot – if any – of positions I can branch off into from being a Community Partner as this was a 5 year grant given to specific counties to see why Native American and African American kids STAY in the system so long and how we could correct that. Although I’ve had this experience that’s been outside of fitness, I still feel like my identity, who I am, is tied to me being ‘Trainerchick’. The fitness trainer for 12 years who has worked for clubs, a top notch college in the Athletics Dept. and who was able to have enough private clientele by referral from current club clients to be able to pay the bills strictly from that. Lots of pluses there, but do the negatives outweigh all those things? The eating disorder being kicked into hyper drive? Putting pressure on MYSELF to look a certain way and even when I reach that look, STILL not being satisfied? Yes, all these things are conundrums I’ve been pondering for going on 6 years now and I wish I could just find ME, start fresh and finally be happy.