How I have approached fitness has certainly changed over the last 5 years since I’ve been in the industry. I first really started working out seriously in my mid-20s. I was running an outside sales company working a lot of hours, drinking 5-6 nights a week, eating out regularly, and still suffered from pretty severe anxiety and depression. I knew I needed to make a change to feel better. I felt tired all the time, miserable was an understatement, and could barely sleep. I noticed changes within about 1 month of consistently working out. I was sleeping better, my anxiety and depression were more manageable, and I just felt better. I started studying for my personal training certification immediately and got a job 10 days after I passed. I didn’t know a whole lot, but I talked and watched the other trainers in the gym and did as much studying on my own as I could. I trained as most new trainers do with circuits, some strength training, and lots of HIIT (high intensity interval training).
I was really interested in the body building community for my first few years and started training in more of that style. Body builders focus on muscle connection, lots of angles/exercises for muscle groups, and lots of macro counting. I trained implementing a lot of these principles along with the HIIT. Then, in September 2017, I was in a car accident. It was seemingly not a bad accident, but it has sent me down a whole health and wellness journey that I would probably have never tapped into had it not been for this accident. First, it was lower back pain. I tried natural remedies with massage therapy, floating, cryotherapy, and yoga. I then moved towards the doctor route seeing a chiropractor, multiple orthopedic doctors/surgeons, many physical therapists, and a spine/pain specialist. I got some relief from the chiropractic and physical therapy work, but nothing lasted. Finally, they did an MRI and saw a disc protrusion at L5/S1 that was also sitting on a nerve. 9 procedures from the spine/pain specialist later, the right side of my back was better day to day, but I had pain the the left side and nerve pain down my right leg. Sitting, standing, and driving were all painful for more than 20-30 minutes. I also was told by everyone not to workout.
I started looking inside the body to see what else could be going on. I did a food sensitivity test and eliminated those foods, saw a functional medicine practitioner with a ton of blood work, did a 4 month elimination diet, and had some relief. I had a lot of markers with inflammatory issues and deficiencies and started to resolve them through nutrition and supplements. I incorporated meditation, hypnotherapy for childhood trauma, and acupuncture. I now am seeing another functional medicine practitioner, pelvic floor physical therapist, and managing stress through acupuncture, massage therapy, self-hypnosis, and meditation, but still searching for some answers.
So how has my working out changed? I am working out again (yay!). I didn’t see the greatest relief in my back pain until I started doing big lifta again (squat, deadlift, rows, bench, and overhead press). Now, I did a dual focus on mobility and strength and didn’t just jump right into these big lifts without having been able to work out consistently for the better part of 2 years. Mobility focuses on reestablishing proper movement patterns through having the flexibility to do full range of motion and have strength/control through those movements. Basically, I was making sure that I could move how I am supposed to. Now, I have little pain as long as I keep up with my workouts, manage stress, have really good digestion, and sleep well.
So how do I think about fitness now? I wanted to explain my experiences to help people understand how I approach fitness now. Health is about the whole body, mind, and spirit. My goal is to help people change habits so they can live their best life. I try to educate everyone I work with on reestablishing proper movement patterns, strength training, eating whole nutritious food, stress management, sleep, self-care, identifying triggers, and much more. Health is so much more than looking a certain way. Getting to a certain weight won’t make someone all of a sudden be happy. Creating habits that revolve around fostering happiness and living one’s best life is really what I aim to help people with.