I spent years trying to achieve a “perfect body”. Whatever that is.
And when I became a personal trainer back in 2005 I felt an incredible amount of pressure to have this “perfect body” more than ever. I believed if clients were going to trust me and invest in my services I had to look damn perfect doing it. Who cared about knowledge – people wanted to see a tight ass and 6-pack abs right?! I’ve always had a small frame, but by no means have I ever had a 6-pack, and for some reason I felt like this was a failure. On the weekends I enjoyed indulging in “bad” food, but would be ridden with guilt like I had no control. How can I be a successful trainer if I can’t stay fit and eat healthy 24/7?! It was a total mind F#&k.
In the pursuit of this “perfect body” I began taking diet pills, workout enhancement drinks, trying every restrictive diet toted as “the best one”, doing colonics, and simply abusing my body by spending way too many hours in the gym, and not eating enough to compensate for this caloric expenditure. I was so unhealthy, unhappy and frustrated. I thought I was doing everything right?! After years of this mental and physical abuse I insulted on myself, I was riddled with:
- A low thyroid
- An extra 20lbs on my small 5’1 frame
- Loss of period for almost 2 years and Doctor’s telling me I was going through menopause and would never have children
- Debilitating constipation and digestive upset
- Unhealthy self-image and relationship with food
- Inability to lose weight no matter how hard I tried (how much could a girl workout and how little could she eat to achieve results!?)
- Messed up back from over-training that would lock and cause extreme pain
It was a trying time in my life to say the least, but one I’m grateful for. I learned SO MUCH from this experience: more than any fitness magazine or course could teach me. It was profound and I evolved personally and professionally because of it.
The irony was that during this time my fitness career really started to take off and it taught me something: people loved me, my training and my approach to fitness and health regardless of what my body looked like. Although I was struggling on the inside with how I looked, I always exuded confidence, a playful attitude and really invested in my client’s well-being. They could see that I really cared and had knowledge to share. Business was booming even though my stomach was expanding. This is what I learned during that time:
Women want to feel powerful and in control of their health and fitness.
Women want support from a like-minded women, not judgment.
Women want to feel like their effort is enough because they are doing the best they can.
Women want solutions within their busy lives, not obstacles to be fit and healthy.
Women want to feel badass!
Yes we can wish away cellulite, an extra 10lbs, and get frustrated when we bend over and see some skin hanging, but who’s to say we’re not strong as shit when we’re doing box jumps and push-ups off our toes!? How powerful does it feel to say “no” when a gentlemen asks at the grocery store if you’d like him to carry that 20L water jug out to your car for you? Who cares what the scale says when you wake up full of energy and ready to take on the day; it doesn’t define you!! We don’t have countless hours each week to get an ass like Kim Kardashian or ripped abs like Ryan Gosling. It’s not realistic, and deep down women get that.
I’m not saying women don’t struggle with self-image, but we want to feel good about ourselves no matter what. Being fit doesn’t mean we have to fit into the jeans we wore in our early twenties. Being healthy doesn’t mean we have to eat bland salads and chicken every day. Being a healthy role model for our children doesn’t mean we have to look perfect, but rather just take care of ourselves and do the best we can. It’s a women’s revelation, and it was my business revelation to coin the real girls approach to a badass body.
I’m happy to sit here and say that at 33 I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m the happiest and most confident I’ve ever been, and I’m pregnant with our first child. Something I never thought I’d be able to say. When I started to focus more on my health, vitality and energy, weight loss was just an awesome by-product of this pursuit, not my focus.
I’ve learned lots over the years, and know that this is a lifestyle I can maintain forever. I workout smarter, not harder. Eat cleaner, not leaner. I only invest 1.5 hours into my fitness routine every week, and I can show you how to do the same. Life is busy, but you can still feel healthy, fit and badass around that.
It gets me angry when I think of how society molded me and made me believe I wasn’t good enough as I was when I was younger. I’ve transferred this anger into something that has motivated the f**k out of me so I can help every other woman out there feel like the most badass version of themselves.
I hope one day I get to have you in my tribe ;)
Showing you the real girls approach to a badass body,
Ashley Dale Grant