I am currently 47 going on 48 years old. I am a wife and a mother. Like many other ladies my age, I battle the post-40 body of thickening in the waist and getting the “meno-pot”, as the mid-life belly is called. I sometimes win the battle and sometimes lose the battle. Fortunately the principle of reversibility works both ways – if you don’t use it you will lose it, but if you have lost it YOU CAN GET IT BACK. This is very important! But I digress.
There are fortunate people who discover their life’s purpose at a very young age. I was not one of these. Growing up, I never really had a clear vision of what I wanted to do with my life. I fantasized about many sport related careers, such as becoming a soccer player, a ballerina or maybe a long distance athlete. I also fantasized about a career in art or writing, but no-one in my family was confident that I had the talent for these. In the end, I decided to go to university and study psychology. It seemed a sensible career choice. My parents were happy and I was OK with the choice. It wasn’t something that I was passionate about, but it was interesting enough. Of course, I completely stuffed it up, fell in love with a handsome but unsuitable man, got pregnant, got married, got pregnant again and then got divorced. Needless to say, my parents were no longer happy and neither was I. I had to find a job and I became an administrative assistant called a “Girl Friday”.
For the next two decades, I worked to care for my children and over time I managed to build a career in project and programme management. I was good at my corporate discipline of project management and I am a hard worker. I stopped exercising and subjected my body to the abuses of smoking and eating over-processed junk food. I got fat and unfit, but everyone was happy that I was being a good mom and a good provider. I didn’t think of changing my lifestyle. my parents both smoked and neither really exercised. This seemed like “normal life” to me.
The catalyst came in the form of my dad contracting emphysema and my mom having a heart attack and a stroke. They were both in their fifties, i.e. not much older than I am now, when tragedy struck. About 4 months after my mom’s heart attack my dad passed away. I spoke at his funeral and helped with all the arrangements.
Lesson 1 hit home for me – WE LIVE IN THIS BODY UNTIL WE DIE. If we don’t take care of it, it cannot carry us to the desired end of dying at a ripe old age, living comfortably until the very end. Having a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee that you will not contract a dread disease, I know. I hear this argument often. It does, however, reduce the risk of such a horrid experience happening to you. Why would you choose not give yourself a better chance against this?
Lesson 2 followed – women prioritise everything and everyone above their own well-being, and the people who love them do the same. My mother complained often, she was always tired. None of us really listened – we wrote it off as “nagging”. It is like a mother and/or a wife is a commodity that is there to perform a function, and beyond that she has no personal needs. The lesson is: PEOPLE TREAT YOU THE WAY YOU TREAT YOU. Women need to prioritise their own health and well-being and teach their families and loved ones to do the same. If you act like a martyr, you will be treated like a martyr. The benefits of martyrdom is surely not worth sacrificing your life or even your quality of life?
This is the alchemy from which my fitness calling was born. I started with my own health and fitness first, and then went on training courses to understand how I can best share this with others. I learnt a lot from my own journey as well. Some of the things I tried worked well, and other things did not. My body behaved very differently now from how I remember in my early twenties. Extra weight is more stubborn and getting fit takes longer. My mom managed to regain quality of life as well through following a healthy lifestyle and excercise, which was also an inspiration to me. It is never too late to start.
Even though I discovered it late in life, this is definitely my calling. I get goose-flesh when someone achieves a fitness goal. I feel the disappointment if someone experiences a hurdle along the way. I especially want to help women between the ages of 30 and 60 to prioritise their own health and fitness. To do this I work on three components of the person:
- The mind-set that got the client into the current condition they are in, understanding why it happened and how to move beyond that.
- Changing the nutritional habits and behaviour, often closely linked to the mind-set.
- A suitable exercise program to match the client and situation.
My decades of project management experience also comes in handy with periodized planning and managing the risks and issues of each individual client. This is why I don’t call myself a personal trainer, but rather a strength and fitness coach. I aim to provide a holistic service and to help you overcome the hurdles that are preventing you from prioritizing yourself and your own well-being. If you are interested in starting your own fitness journey and if you would allow me to journey with you, please visit www.fitstrongsa.com to see the various ways in which I can help you.