The lesson Aimee Learnt
It was a Saturday morning and I was doing some run coaching. I turned around and heading towards me at a fast pace and a big smile on her face was Aimee. Aimee had been training with us over the last couple years so I had a pretty good relationship with her and as a fitness professional you develop the ability to figure out what motivates different people and what their real drivers are.
With Aimee, I know that she is a person who absolutely hammers herself in every session and when you watch her you get the feeling she’s trying to beat some inner demon, that there’s something inside her head that she thinks she can destroy by testing her physical limits.
But on this particular morning I didn’t see the demon in Aimee, the smile she had on her face represented a completely different emotional place. Before she got to me I assumed that it must have been because she was having a great run surrounded by stunning nature as she was running down a beautiful tree lined street with the river on her right hand side and the sun shining down, it was just one of those stunning days. As she approached me I said to her, ‘you seem in a great place today’, this allowed her to open up and reveal that while she was loving running in nature the place she was in came from an experience she’d had over the last couple weeks.
After working in the fitness industry and gaining the trust of many of my clients over the years I have gained many insights into things I would never normally have known or even thought about. One of these areas is how much so many females mentally struggle with image and weight issues. I know that most of us have some idea on this stuff but I’ve been shown how consuming this thinking can be for some. Aimee was one of them and the demon she was trying to beat when I saw her exercise was her image battle.
If you meet Aimee you would think that she would have nothing to worry about in regards to her image, she’s a young, fit looking woman but that doesn’t mean that what she feels inside isn’t real for her. She has dissatisfaction in herself based on her image and over the years her strategy for beating this has been to be very strict with her exercise, with the amount that she was doing and the intensity that she brought to it. Sometimes her strategy would lead her to make some unwise decisions, like continuing training when she was injured.
When Aimee started to speak on that sun filled Saturday she shared with me an experience that had helped her have a shift in her thinking around her exercise and image strategy. She told me how recently she had been unable to exercise. At first she was really worried about putting weight on so she stayed focused on maintaining good eating habits and not binging on ‘crap food’. During this time she didn’t put any weight on, she actually lost a little bit. She was amazed that she could do this without her demon beating exercise strategy and from this experience she started to see exercise in a different light.
As I rode beside Aimee she happily expressed how learning that she could maintain a healthy image without beating herself up through exercise dissolved her previous motivation for exercise. ‘Now I can just enjoy the exercise itself, today I’m just loving being out here running’ she told me.
Aimee’s experience is a great reminder that the attitude we bring to exercise will often determine what we gain from it. While in the past she would complete a session feeling dissatisfied because the demon had beaten her, now she was in a place where she could enjoy all the good feelings that exercise can offer. As she ran off with a big smile still planted on her face I could see that she learnt a pretty great lesson.
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