Why You Should Give a Damn About Me

Truth? Maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe you shouldn’t take the time to read what I have to say. After all, what makes me capable of helping you? I’m not really a skilled writer (though I like to tell myself I am), I’m not the strongest, the most intelligent, I don’t have a PhD, nor do I have 50, 000 followers on Instagram. But…I have been through a hell of a lot in my life, when I am passionate about something I put everything I have into it. I’ve experienced everything from drug addiction, disordered eating, amenorrhea, anxiety, depression, weight loss, weight gain, obsessive tracking, food allergies/intolerances, fad diets, skin issues…the list goes on. The last four years of my life have been pretty much solely dedicated to researching anything and everything to do with the human body. I’m a Strength Coach, Holistic Lifestyle Practitioner, and soon to be Fascial Stretch Therapist. I love training athletes, Powerlifting and Olympic Lifting inspire the hell out of me — but those deeper issues I mentioned will always have a place in my heart. This is where the name Barbelle Act comes from. Weightlifting, in multiple forms, has truly saved my life. It has helped me overcome so many things and continues to allow me to find purpose and strength. Whether or not it can for you — that is to be determined. But I will provide you with everything I have been through and learned and you can decide for yourself what to take away from this.

I grew up a 90’s kid, in a world that was accustom to margarine, prepackaged food, and sugary lunch snacks. I was a competitive hockey and baseball player and never had to worry about what I was eating. We had family dinner every single night that consisted of some kind of meat, vegetable, and carbs like mashed potatoes or rice. We always had snacks after — whether it be ice cream or cookies. And not once do I remember ever worrying about what I was eating growing up. Food was just there. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Oh, the joys of being a kid in those days.

I remember the first diet I ever went on. I was 15 years old and one of my best friends and I decided that we wanted to lose a few pounds for the summer. This was a whole new world for me, I had never even contemplated dieting. In high-school my friends and I would always get a bacon cheese melt on a bagel for breakfast, poutine for lunch, chocolate brownie cheesecake squares for a snack, would eat a block of cheese with a bag of pasta before dinner, and drank pop all the time. And not a single one of us were overweight. Yet for some reason we decided that it was time to diet, time to get ready for the summer and “tone up”. We started researching into how much girls at our age should be eating (that number was f-cking crazy), what was “healthy” and “unhealthy”, how to get flat bellies, and “slim thighs”. I can still remember the first food label I ever read, it was for Dare Vinta Red Pepper crackers and I was BLOWN away by how many calories were in 3. That night we went for a run (well more of a walk), each ate those 3 crackers, waited an hour, and decided that we hated diets and loved ice cream too much. It was absolutely freeing.

Fast forward 4 years. I met a guy. You can guess how that went. You see, growing up — despite being an athlete, I really enjoyed dabbling in drugs. Started off simple as most of the time it does and I played around with smoking weed and cigarettes. This led to cocaine, ecstasy, ketamine, lots of drinking, etc. This boy that I met had started using painkillers, and since he was doing it and I wanted to date him I started as well. I was naive and didn’t realize that you could in fact get physically addicted to a drug. I always thought addictions were mental. We started by doing it just on the weekends, then every time we saw each other, and before we knew it — we were taking painkillers every single day. I woke up one day physically ill and had no idea what was happening, it was only then that he told me what actually happens to you when you continuously take them. You can imagine how I felt in that moment. There was no way I was going to tell my parents what was going on (even though I very well could have), so I was left to deal with it myself. I went that day to get on Methadone, but the wait list was 8 months. 8 god damn months. I’d have been dead in those 8 months. Long story short I decided to move cities so I could go somewhere that could get me on it right away…and that 2 and a half years is a dark path that ultimately led me to where I am today. My metabolism slowed, my sugary carb cravings went through the roof, and I gained about 50+ pounds (my eyebrows and skin looked fantastic though). I can and will go into more depth about this particular time in my life, but for the sake of this post I won’t right now.

I met a new guy nearing the end of my treatment, replaced methadone with exercise, and started feeling emotions again (methadone essentially made me comatose). This started my “journey to skinny”. I saw a Naturopath because of an acne-type rash I developed on my arms (deemed keratosis pilaris by modern medicine), who determined that I had developed allergies and intolerances to all the usual suspects. You can imagine what cutting out gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, and yeast and adding in cardio/interval training every single day did. Needless to say, in less than a year I had gone from a size 10 to 00. I remember the day when I bought a pair of 00 jeans and XXS small shirt, put them on, looked in mirror, and burst out into tears. I hated how I looked. The clothes were falling off of me. I couldn’t look myself in the eyes. All I saw was fat even though I had stomach veins, arm veins, and a thigh gap bigger than Ontario. I. Still. Hated. Myself.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that things will come along when you are ready. It was at this time that I began looking into lifting weights (the first weights I ever bought were 2 lb. dumbbells and I was afraid they would make me “bulky”), and a friend of mine was working at a local gym. I ended up getting a job there as a Personal Trainer, which led me down the path I am now. There are so many separate posts that will expand on each of these points in my life and go more in depth into how it can help you, but for now I just want you to know who I am, I want to be as transparent as possible. I can distinctly recall the first time I put a barbell on my back, I was shaking because it felt so heavy. Although that gym left me with a bad taste in my mouth in terms of training, I am so fortunate to have had that opportunity, meet some incredible people, further my knowledge of nutrition and training, and ultimately just get my foot in the door. A plethora of negative things came along with that job, since it was the time of low calorie and restrictive diets, competitions, and the clean eating movement. I remember when one of the trainers gave me grief for eating a banana, labeling it “bad for me” and “detrimental” to weight loss (side note, I couldn’t f-cking lose more weight, buddy). This is where I learned about cheat meals, IIFYM, counting macros, and my restrictive eating led to binging due to feelings of deprivation. I developed severe food anxiety, was cold all the time, my hands and feet were yellow, I was injured and sick every other week, had sciatica, and lost my period. For 4 years I lost my period. 4 f-cking years. My metabolism was so damaged, my mind was stressed beyond belief, and I had no sex drive. I spent so long in such a restrictive and low calorie diet that I’m sure you know what happened next. I ate all the things, I put on weight faster than I burned it off and before I knew it I had put on 50 lbs again. And it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I left the fitness industry and decided it simply wasn’t for me.

I went back to school to finish my Business Entrepreneurship and Management degree I started while I was on methadone, having no idea what I wanted to do with it but just needed something other than training. About 6 months later I ended up getting a job offer training Elite hockey players and chose after much thought to give it another chance. And that right there is a tie for the best decision I ever made. I found purpose in my training. I was able to work under some of the best in the industry and see fitness how I saw it when I was a kid. It wasn’t about aesthetics (which is actually just a byproduct of doing what you enjoy), it wasn’t about diets…it was about eating to fuel your body and your performance.

I have a love/hate relationship with this industry. I get so pissed off at some of the things I see and read, our minds become so saturated with negative and false information. I finally decided it was time for me to put my two cents in and do something about it. I have so much knowledge and experience I want to share with anyone I can. Whether it is eating disorders, stress, programming, nutrition, addiction — I am confident that I can help in some way or another.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I appreciate it more than you know. Please pass this page on to anyone you think could benefit from it; women, men, young, old…there will be something here.

I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite quotes which is applicable to so many, and I will talk to you soon with a specific post.

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” — J.K. Rowling

-A


Originally published at barbelleact.wordpress.com.

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