I felt like a fraud….
Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Melissa, a personal trainer and nutrition coach from NYC currently living in Los Angeles. I’ve dedicated my life to empowering other women to find their inner superhero. I want every woman to feel confident in her skin, embrace life’s ups and downs, and live life boldly and unapologetically.
But I didn’t just snap my fingers and end up here. The reason I’m so passionate about helping other women is that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re not good enough, not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough. I spent years dieting and spending countless hours in the gym only to still be unhappy with the girl staring back at me in the mirror. I thought when I became a personal trainer that it would somehow “fix” me. After all, I was in the gym all day, so obviously I was going to be in the best shape, right? Um yeah, that’s not exactly what happened.
I thought I was doing everything right. I ate clean, I trained hard, but I still didn’t look the way I thought I should. I felt a bit like a fraud; here were all these people looking to me to help them and I couldn’t even help myself. The problem was that I was looking for outside validation. I stopped paying attention to what I really wanted. I had become so fixated on this image of what I thought I should look like, that I never stopped to ask myself if that’s what I wanted.
As women, we’re conditioned from a very young age to believe we need to look a certain way. The media does a great job at bombarding us with images of “perfect” women and make sure to use phrases that instill in us a sense that if we don’t look like that, we are somehow a failure. Why do we continue to allow this? It’s heartbreaking to see young girls compare themselves to the women on the covers of magazines. It’s no wonder disordered eating is so common, and the billion dollar diet industry thrives off of our feelings of unworthiness and desire for the “perfect” body.
It took years, and will always be an ongoing process, but I realized that I needed to love and accept myself as I am. Beating my body into submission wasn’t doing me any good, it was only making me miserable. Rather than looking in the mirror and picking out what I saw as flaws, I started forcing myself to focus on what I did like and compliment myself. It’s so easy to compliment someone else, so why is it so difficult to compliment ourselves?
I’ll admit it wasn’t easy at first and it felt a little weird talking to myself, but it helped me to stop hating my body. Instead, I started to realize all the amazing things it can do. Who cares if I have cellulite? My legs are strong mother f*ckers. If that means having some cellulite, then that’s fine by me. I’m sick of trying to live up to an unrealistic standard. I’m never going to look like the photoshopped models in the magazines; no one does, including the models.
So I made a decision to give my body a break. After more than a decade of dieting, I made a promise to myself: no diets for one full year. That decision was both incredibly liberating and terrifying. One year? That’s a long time. But I knew I needed it. During that year I started powerlifting and realized just how strong I really was. My weight fluctuated, but I learned just to let it be. I ate well and still tracked my food most of the time, but I wasn’t so strict; I ate pop tarts before my workouts, enjoyed pizza on Friday nights, and never had the urge to binge. That year ended up being nearly two and ended up being one of the most eye-opening experiences. Instead of focusing on what my body was/wasn’t I started focusing on what my body could do. It’s amazing what happens when you fuel your body and learn to love yourself.
I think it’s time we rethink the word perfect in terms of body image. My definition of the perfect body is feeling happy, confident, and strong in your own skin. It’s not a look, it’s a feeling. It has to come from within. If you’re always seeking approval from everyone else, you wind up going around in circles and at some point you forget who you really are.
In powerlifting I found my voice. I’m strong, I’m confident, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I certainly don’t have it all figured out and there are days that I struggle but I try to remember to be kind to myself.
I dug myself out of my hole; now I’m throwing down the ladder to help other women find their strength, their voice, and most importantly, their superhero.
I would love to hear your story. Please comment below and let me know where you are in your journey. And if you’re ready to find your superhero send me an email at Melissa@melissamerrittfitness.com