Being a larger body trainer in the fitness industry in 2022 has been a blessing for me in a way, believe it or not, but I have experienced a lot of fat-phobia and weight related bias from past employers past coworkers. I didn’t realize how truly engulfed I was in a toxic work and gym environment.
I kept going back to diet culture antics and conformed to society’s expectations. “Lose weight… Skinny = healthy, employment, money, etc.” Oh boy did this open me up to so many disordered behaviors. In my head these were correct because skinny was considered healthy. Exercise had always been a punishment. Like, “if you’re going to eat those fries, you’ll have to exercise even more!” I would still feel the guilt and shame of overeating, no matter how much I purged through exercise.
When I was introduced to my former boss, he thought I was there to do marketing. He didn’t recognize me as a trainer, even though he’d been told multiple times that was why I was there. Why wasn’t I being taken seriously? Of course my first thought was, “It’s because of my size” and then the downward spiral began. I had to prove myself the way no one else was required to. I let myself become engulfed in my work, slowly but surely, losing every little bit of myself. My philosophy was challenged and blatantly disregarded. Despite my training and certifications, I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about because of one thing: How big my body was and is. This had me doing things and acting totally against my morals, ethics and mission. This is the time my responsibilities at the gym increased. More and more was piled onto my plate.
Behind all this my period started to play hack on me. It got to the point that I sought out hormonal birth control to see if it would help. Oh holy hell, no, it just made things worse for me. My hormones were so out of wack. Within a week or two I began to see changes in my personality. I started to cry constantly, I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I felt like I was walking on egg shells to the point I had anxiety attacks 2-3 times a day. All of a sudden, little responsibilities at the gym, here and there would be taken because: “oh, well I don’t wanna stress you out, I don’t wanna stress you out”. I didn’t think anything of it, I was just like “whatever”.
My employer occupied my mind all of the time; that’s the reason I started therapy. I wanted to learn how to draw boundaries, use tools to help me while I’m feeling anxious in a situation and tools to help hold me accountable for myself. I honestly thought I was batshit crazy!
In my intake for therapy a lot came out. It was the first time EVER I came completely face to face with my eating disorder. The intake doctor asked me, have you ever binged? I said yes. She asked have you ever thrown up? As I was just about to say no, for some reason, I blurted out “yes!” Oh my gosh, what a weight lifted off my shoulders! She then asked “more than once?’ I looked down and quietly said “Yes.” It was the first time I was honest with the doctor and more importantly myself.
I was on the path to get the help I needed and was feeling really good. The first person I told was my boss, thinking he would be understanding and even supportive. Oh boy, was I wrong! The confused look on his face told the story. And the big question came, “will you ever be able to weight yourself again?” WTF, am I really hearing this? I said, I didn’t know, but for right now it’s a trigger for me. And when I feel like I can, I will tell you. Well that day never happened! Thank God! I thought of ways I could empower myself through this new way of thinking and especially new way of living. Radical body acceptance! “What can I do to help me get over diet culture!? I know! SMASH THE SCALE!” And I did. I smashed the shit out of it. I did a photoshoot documenting the entire event!
This was the slow change I needed to start the momentum of my true mission. I wanted to provide a safe place to experience joy in movement while emphasizing self- acceptance and self-compassion. That’s when I came up with My Joyous Adaptive Momentous Movement, My JAMM.