As some of you know, while I have been living in Seattle, I have also been studying online through the Global Academy of Fitness. I have almost completed my Certificate 3 in Fitness and will be moving on to my Certificate 4 in a couple of weeks, as well as having finished my first Semester of my business diploma. I didn't want to admit it but I think we all know that I won't be going back to teaching. There's a couple of reasons for this and I'll explain down further exactly why I left uni in the first place.
So I'm due to return home in June 2017 and I've been thinking about what I want to do. I'm hoping to finish my qualifications by the time I get home so I can score a job in the fitness industry. I've always been into fitness and learning about exercise and I'm so proud of myself for finally pursuing it. I have no idea what type of job I want so I have definitely been thinking about it a lot lately. My plan is to start personal training when I get home and eventually, I can see myself starting my own business. But this is where I was questioning myself. Do I want to open a gym? My own boot camp? Group fitness classes? There are so many options but I am also really set on having a focus group. This is when I started thinking about having a business just dedicated to women, or women who have just given birth, or mums still trying to lose their baby weight etc. But then I thought about the younger people in society. People my age. People, both men and women, who suffer from mental illness. Who suffer from body image issues. Who suffer from Self Esteem issues. People who are too afraid and intimidated to walk into a gym and start training around all of these fit and healthy people. I don't think it is spoken about enough but I truly believe that exercise can be such a beneficial form of therapy. No, it may not be the same as speaking with a psychologist and being treated with different medications, although I believe it can really help you both physically, mentally and emotionally. There are so many people in today's society who suffer from an internal battle with themselves and I aspire to do whatever I can to help change that.
I myself have never been diagnosed with a mental illness. Although, I believe I have experienced some forms of anxiety. I have also dealt with a range of self esteem, body image and confidence issues throughout high school and even still to this day. By starting to exercise and gaining knowledge on how beneficial physical activity can be, I have really noticed a difference on both my physical and mental health. When you exercise, your body releases all of these chemicals called endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body. When I return home, my goal is to help people achieve this and understand where I am coming from. I think exercise plays such an important role in the way you feel and how you perceive yourself.
In 2013, I graduated high school and was accepted into a Bachelor of Primary Education. I was stoked. Little did I know that uni would make me so mentally unstable. I honestly don't know where it came from. In high school, I was totally fine with sitting in a classroom, answering questions, completing assessments and getting things done on time. In my first Semester of uni I would feel nervous every, single day. Sure, starting classes in a new place would make you feel that way at first but the feeling never disappeared. I don't struggle to make friends either so that wasn't an issue. I would be on edge all day waiting for my class to start. Even the classes where I knew I wouldn't have to answer any questions out loud, or speak in front of the class or any of that stuff that could make someone nervous. I knew something was wrong but didn't really speak up about it. In my second semester I made sure to be in classes with my friends but the nervous feeling still wouldn't go away. People told me that first year was always the hardest but then it got to second year and I was still so unhappy that I decided something needed to happen. I remember saying from that first semester I would defer my degree at some point but I just never went through with my plans. That was until one day I was so anxious about uni and everything going on that I had a "fuck this" moment and decided to sign up to be an Au Pair. I attended a meeting a couple of weeks later and was so set on moving overseas and getting away from it all that I started my application process without telling anyone. I don't think anyone believed me when I said I was set on moving overseas because I always talked the talk so much, that I never actually walked the walk. Well, a couple of weeks later I matched with my host family who said they would need me to start in August 2015. I wasn't planning to leave until January 2016. I was emailing back and forth with my host mum and basically said that I couldn't be their Au Pair due to my university commitments. She said she understood and wished me the best. All of these emails were taking place one afternoon while Ainsley, Carly and I were completing our assignments. I had this sudden change of mind and thought to myself about how unhappy I was at that point in time and if I didn't give this a shot now, then when would I ever? I remember Ains and Carly tried to get me to talk about it and weigh up the pros and cons of leaving in a couple of months or waiting until the next year to go. But I didn't want to talk about it. I just knew I had to go with my gut feeling. So I emailed by host mum back straight away and told her I had changed my mind and we organised a skype session immediately. A few weeks and skype sessions later, I had matched with my host family and was on my way to organising my visa for America. A year and a half later, after that sudden change of mind in Ainsley's living room, here I am living in Seattle and I couldn't be happier.
It wasn't until I reached Seattle that I got so serious about training, eating right and learning even more about fitness. I have also learnt so much more about myself in this past year and I honestly think this experience has had such a positive impact on my mental health. Like I said before, I am about 1 week away from graduating my Certificate 3 in FItness and I am currently training 5 days a week at LA Fitness. I learn more and more every day and love trialling out new exercises and work out plans to see what works best for me. My body image, confidence, self esteem and mental health in general have improved immensely and I cannot stress enough how important exercise is for you. I want other people to see this and I want to work with clients so I can help them achieve the best version of themselves. I am still a work in progress but I want to provide inspiration and motivation for people to do so. Social media is currently filled with transformation photos of people all over the world who have started training and improving themselves physically. I want to focus on the mental transformation of people and how much better exercising has made them feel. Personally, I don't exercise to lose weight. I can see people mocking me for saying that but I have my reasons and I'll explain further. You see, I used to do this and I was so stupid at the time because I was facing a lot of body image and confidence issues. Now, I exercise to feel good. If I don't get my daily work out in, I don't freak out about it and cut down my calorie intake or do anything like that. I just don't feel as good as I would have if I did get the chance to exercise that day. I will always have more chances to exercise. But, at the moment I make it a priority every single day to get some form of physical activity in. It makes me feel so much better about myself. Like I said before, I don't exercise to lose weight because I hate having to reach a certain weight goal and beat myself up over it if I didn't get there. If I feel like I should be losing weight then I will work as hard as I can to do so but I will never, ever again beat myself up over the fact that I haven't reached a certain number on the scales to determine how healthy I am. I struggled with this for years and I am so happy, and proud of myself now that I understand how a number does not determine your health status and more importantly, your self worth. I will not allow my physical appearance to determine how happy I am. I will however, exercise to make myself feel good.
I'm so done with people having to feel like they have to reach all of these physical transformation goals highlighted on every form of social media possible. I'm talking about these transformation photos posted every where. Sure, they have worked hard and definitely need to be proud of themselves for all that they have achieved. But if you're like me, some people will get so obsessed with their physical appearance goals that they forget about how they should be feeling mentally. I turned into a perfectionist and it was horrible. Now that I am focused on how exercise actually makes me feel, I have never been happier.
My perfectionism started in Year 8. I had been competing gymnastics for several years and starting obsessing over my body. You wouldn't believe it now, but I'm pretty sure I was the 3rd shortest girl in my grade. I had also been quite skinny my whole life. But in Year 8 I started obsessing over my weight and food intake. I was training up to 14.5 hours per week at gymnastics so I would need a lot of fuel to get me through those tough workouts. But instead, I limited myself because I wanted the scales to stay the same or I wanted my number to decrease. I ended up having to take 6 weeks off school because I became too sick. I was so thin and so weak that my body couldn't handle anything anymore. I was almost diagnosed with chronic fatigue and was on the verge of anorexia. I remember laughing when my doctor told me this because anorexia was just something I had read about and didn't think it could happen to me because something had to be wrong with you mentally. Looking back, I definitely realise how screwed up my mental health was and I hate myself for putting my body through that. My lowest weight that I "achieved" was 32.9kg. I remember secretly weighing myself up to 20 times a day in hope for that number to change. My self worth was one hundred percent revolved around achieving a certain number. The amount of times I cried because I didn't see what I wanted to is uncountable. My doctor recommended these immune system tablets and protein shakes to try and get me back on track but I refused to take them. The number of fights I had with my mum about having to drink that protein shake was ridiculous and I apologise mum. Today, I am easily over 65kg (double that weight) and would happily down 2 of those protein shakes a day because my mindset has changed completely. I know how much my health as well as my performance in the gym could benefit from supplements like that. Fast forward to Years 11 and 12, I ended up quitting gymnastics and I started Pdh/pe and Food Technology. I think this is what spiked my love for Health and Fitness. At the end of Year 12 I started to become self conscious again about the amount of exercise I was doing. I didn't play a sport and I hate running. So I then finally decided to join a gym and it has been one of the best things I have done. I remember the first day I trained in Jetts Fitness in Figtree and I was so self conscious because I didn't really know how to use anything. Now I look at myself training in LA Fitness in Seattle and it is amazing how much I have learned. How much I have learned in regards to exercises, workout plans and how it makes me feel. I am so much more confident, my self esteem levels have improved and overall, I am just so proud of myself. This is why I want to share my experiences and help others to get a better hold of their own mental health.
To all those girls and guys out there who have dealt with/or are dealing with mental health issues, who are too intimidated to walk into a gym and start training, who feel like they can't make time to work out, who have experienced perfectionism, who have struggled with body image and self esteem issues, or has faced anything along the lines of what I have then I am here for you! I have been there, and I believe a lot of people in today's society have been there too. I am truly passionate about this and want this to be my focus when I return to Australia. My goal for now is to take on board all of the feedback of anyone who reads my blog. Please, please, please don't hesitate to reach out to me or give me feedback on my thoughts and ideas. I would love to help people and I would also love to work with people to come up with personalised goals and workout plans if anyone is interested. As I said before, I am still a work in progress and I am constantly learning but I would love to share my knowledge and passion with anyone who is interested.
I have almost graduated my Cert 3 in Fitness and will be looking for clients to help me complete my Cert 4 in Fitness so if you are interested then hit me up so I can work with you in designing a plan best suited for you and your schedule. Like I said before, any feedback (both positive and negative) will be taken on board. I really appreciate your time taken to read this and if you like, there should be boxes below for anonymous and non anonymous comments. If you are really interested in talking to me a little bit more then you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You and goodnight!