Why I chose to “dial it down”, with my career in health & fitness.

First off, I’d like to say, or apologize to my three followers, wait maybe it’s two, I’m sorry it takes me so long to get another blog posted, and I’m not minimizing the amount I appreciate YOU.  I do write a lot, but it’s on stickies, journals, notepads and the whole process of getting it put into computer is one that does get lost in the shuffle of my ADHD mind and life.  I’m NOT complaining, and I will aim to do better.  I had a laptop but for all you parents of ‘younins’ out there, Minecraft stole it’s heart and  soul and crucified the “heart” drive into a withering mess that even the boys at Geek squad cried a little when I took it in to be “fixed”.  Yes I mean heart drive.  (Hence why Geek Squad rejected my application of employment.)

This topic has been on my brain ever since I stopped teaching fitness classes and decided to stop paying the fee to be a health/wellness Coach.*  It’s not like I woke up one morning and said “I AM DONE”. Decision making was something I generally scored as average or as my husband might say “Good GOSH Grapes woman, make up your mind!” OK OK, He doesn’t say Grapes, I’m not sure he said Gosh either. Maybe sometimes there could be an expletive in this sentence because, I usually go to him with all my decision making conundrums, which come up frequently.   Stay tuned, because I will have some blogs that outline some of the fabulous “notes” I have written him when my feelings were “hurt”. Usually those notes end up by the coffee pot.  They are fun. really fun.

It all started when I  joined a rather large gym and took this sassy, funky, kickboxing class.  I fell in love with the first “jab cross pound pound” to some heart thumping – Lil Jon- club-remix;  where, I felt like I was at the club, but in actuality my babies were in day care and I had my Umbros on (yes I think I wore Umbros from college when I started going back to the gym, don’t worry all you fashionable gym people, I upgraded my wardrobe a tad as the years wore on, insert cute winking smiley face here). Also no one was vomiting in the bathroom from too many Hagar (sp?)  shots or my wedges weren’t sticking to the floor of sloshed Budweiser.  All the club music fun without having to soak your clothes in tide for a week.  Well, if you sweat as much as I do (apparently to the point where it causes medical concern, that comes up later in the blog :)) , you might have to soak your workout clothes in tide, just no club “stench” to overcome.

I had arrived. I was officially a bad ass. I was a dancing fighter.  Usher meets Million dollar Baby. Michael Jackson meets Missy Elliot meets J Lo from the movie ENOUGH.  I simply did not give a french fry if I was burning off french fries or if I was working out my “abs”.  It was SO FREEING. I was having a freaking blast and I really felt “okay” for the first time since there were 5000 people looking at my “hootie hoo-hoo-haw” because my first child decided he was going to hang out for a bit…. and my obstetrician look like John Stossel. So um yeah that.   Also, let’s just say  I DID NOT EXCEL AT ALL at new mommy-hood.  Like we are talking D minus, minus. I blame the fact that my parents didn’t have more babies for me to practice nor did I have enough babysitting jobs with little babies.  It’s really all their fault. (insert facetious-ism, seriously, some people think I’m being serious when I’m being diabolically ironic.)   More on that topic way later, Maybe another blog.

I felt like I had entered into some kind of “West Side story/Micheal Jackson Thriller-I’M BAD” remix video while I was kicking some serious “bootie.”  It actually was not “dance” per say, it choreographed in a way that punches synchronized so succinctly with every heart thumping bass , I literally felt I was inside the MATRIX of kickboxing and Lawrence Fishborne had me “downloaded” into some Jiu-Jitsu-Lil-Jon-Dub-Step-ReMix. I do not think I ever told the instructor this, but there were several times I started crying in her class (tears of joy) because of all the incredibly motivational cues she we would shout out during class.  I did  not turn into a blubbering post menopausal mess, I got choked up because I was so freaking inspired and I simply did not feel like I was at “the gym”.    She would say things like “You got up and got out of bed and You are here!!! be proud of yourself”  or “You aren’t here to just change the outside of your body you are here to change your body from the inside out.” I’m paraphrasing due to the fact that it was several years ago.  The bottom line is, she made me feel like I was exercising for the right reasons. “What the eff does “exercising for the right reasons mean???? Laurie Jane??”   Please, hang with me…this might be one of my longer blogs but it’s worth it because hopefully it will make you laugh and possibly alleviate stress in your life if you are struggling with a decision.

I had a tremendous amount of guilt with my membership because I did not work AND I  felt like I didn’t deserve it as a “stay at home mom”.  Looking back, I had severe post par-tum delusions after my first child, and mildly depressed after my second, I actually was just depressed. I hate typing that out because most of the world thinks that shit is controllable and it’s mind over matter. If you do think that depression can be controlled by just flipping a switch, please do more research.   I digress, the POINT I AM TRYING TO MAKE,  Is this instructor alleviated the insane, ridiculous guilt  I felt from going to the  FREAKING GYM! (I’m just not a the point where I can drop the actual f bomb in my blogs. A lot of successful bloggers let it all out…again I blame “others” for this..(diabolically ironic!!)  I’m still wondering if “shit” is too much…but I’ll edit later. Maybe).

Fast forward a couple years, taking a variety of classes, with this particular class and mixed martial arts classes being something I was drawn to on a consistent basis, I decided that I wanted to become a fitness instructor.  Yeah I know. At that time, I was 38.  I do not know what I was thinking either.  This was the best and worst decision I had made at that time.  How can that be?  It was the best decision because I truly learned how to perform a task that I did not possess natural skills to perform on a consistent basis.  I may have excelled at taking fabulous classes at a gym, but TEACHING fitness classes was almost the antithesis of taking them,  and I had to go through this process to figure out it was not something that pulled from my natural strengths and abilities.  I am not saying that you should shy away from difficult tasks, ignore your weaknesses or avoid putting yourself out of your comfort zone.  I am saying that if you are so far out of your comfort zone it is negatively affecting every aspect of your life, you may want to rethink the journey or path  you have embarked upon.

To elaborate upon it being the best decision in my life.  I learned SO MUCH about myself, the fitness “world” and how I interacted with other people. and MOST IMPORTANTLY I have a new found respect for Beyonce.  We besties now. “Hi B!!!” –  Beyonce, can move in ways that I would end up in the Emergency room if I attempted, and SING, like really SING from the vast recesses of her lungs ~WHILE-  AT THE SAME TIME – NOT LOOK TIRED.  I was say things like “punch jab punch punch kick jab etc”, while performing as said such tasks (not even singing like my bestie Beyonce or  ‘bootie’ maneuvering in any way shape or form) and would be so exhausted and “HANGRY” by the end of class, I would almost fall into my food at night.  To illustrate my “not looking tired point above”….. I had a participant ask me one day  if I was “Okay” and look deeply concerned for my overall well-being.    She recommended I get my thyroid checked because I was literally drenched in sweat and could barely speak after class.  This was kind of my first clue that maybe the outer Pluto rings of my comfort zone was not necessarily the best place for this 40 something Mom of two high spirited children and one very busy working husband.   Next time you go to class and you think the instructor doesn’t appear to be working hard enough, or start to get all critical,  think really long and hard before you give feedback. I use to run crazy 90 degree hill trail races in college and even got trophies for it, okay it was a small college, BUT STILL. I thought I was in damn good shape and it kicked my ass.  So I learned a TON about learning something from scratch and the black hole space that comes after your comfort zone. Insert Winking smiley face jumping emoticon here.

As for it being the worst decision, maybe that’s unfair terminology for myself; yet, there were many times I was in self inflicted tears of frustration because I never felt “good enough” or that I measured up to my counterparts.    I guess I should have known better with my eating disordered past that I was not as tough as I thought I was in deflecting the ‘self obsessiveness’ that the industry as a whole seem to manifest upon my psyche. I thought I could shut those voices down but inevitably the cons started to outweigh the pros.    As a competitive runner, it completely consumed me and I suffered health consequences from malnutrition and electrolyte unbalance and heat exhaustion because I did not have enough fat on my body to properly function and cool myself. Huh, Maybe that’s why I sweat so much now. Anyhow,  Sounds dramatic, but true and it will be in my memoirs..  Henceforth, so on and so forth,  I felt like at every twist and turn I had to monitor what I put in my body , I was over training,  and it was negatively affecting myself and my family.

As a caveat to my career in fitness I decided to become a “Health Coach” and used   Multi-level Marketing fitness shakes and DVDS  as an adjunct to promote this way of life.   I know it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out which company I chose to align with ; however, there are currently a
large amount of these companies.   It’s not important because the company itself had nothing to do with my decision to stop participating in this field.   However, the somewhat convoluted and  pervasive “online coaching atmosphere” of SOME of the Coaches,  in SOME of these companies, (not just the one I was apart of) did have something to do with my decision. I have re-written this section like six times. The first time I wrote it, I ended up sounding like Lewis Black on the Jon Stewart show and I have been told that extreme sarcasm comes over quite poorly, unless it’s delivered by Lewis Black himself.

Instead of providing a  montage of all the things that grated my nerves like tweezers on a chalkboard, slowly and screechy, (I’m sorry¿ was that image bothersome?) I will try to summarize in one small paragraph without sounding indignant.( Fun Fact here, I was going to use the word resentful,  but I feel as thought it’s overused.  Anyhow, I go-ogled the synonyms for resentful and low and behold the FIRST Google search that “popped up” was “resentful Beyonce”  What???  Who is resentful at my BFF??? and how can anyone be resentful at the woman who masterminded the song that every man, woman and child is screaming  at the top of their lungs in their car  (……..boyimdrankin…..grindinupindatclub..surfboardgraininondatwoooooddd) ……My apologies to your boss if  you are reading this at work and just played Drunk In Love in your office and tried to “twerk”.

I digress. Seriously girlfriend,  Beyonce!!! Stop infiltrating my thoughts with your naughty music.  I became disenchanted with the MLM fitness entity because quite simply, it was not my scene. I did not feel comfortable displaying before and after pictures of my stomach or my arms or my saddlebags or whatever body part I incessantly felt like I needed to “Fix”.**  I was tired of being asked to do a “cleanse”  or a “challenge” when quite frankly, all they did for me was made me feel like sleeping OR I wanted to rob a bakery, and then I felt guilty because I was starving. Whe I did the cleanse and was told it was a highly caloric cleanse (1500 calories?) and I shouldn’t be feeling hungry.   I NEVER EVER felt like being moderately healthy  was enough and I ended running around all wide eyed and freaked out because “OMG I did too much cardio and not enough strength or I hadn’t learned the hollow back handstand and OMG LAURIE why aren’t you more flexible you really need to focus on that what’s wrong with you???.”

My brain had become a level 10 roller coaster of negative health thoughts.   I felt like I was eating too much and I should be constantly tracking my calories and my calorie burn.  I was constantly striving to be in smaller pants or have bigger biceps but not too big just big enough to look a certain way and this swirling mass of disenchanted thoughts HAD TO STOP.  Yes the problem absolutely became MY problem and it was turning me into an obsessive health freak that had banned “cheezits” from the house.  I DID NOT WANT TO BE THAT PERSON.

Some of you might ask, why couldn’t you have stayed in the health and fitness/mlm “thangy thing” and stayed moderate and balanced.    I could not because  my career choice HAD BECOME the gasoline to the fire for  obsessive, extreme behavior.  I also did feel like there were fitness leaders in that particular industry that sent a somewhat obsessive message (IN MY OPINION) and I just did not want to be a part of that culture any longer. AGAIN,THIS IS MY OPINION.   Some of you that read this might be saying I’m a “hater”, but really it’s not that, I applaud the athletes who have overcome giant obstacles to be leaders in this very complex and growing industry. I just chose to distance myself from the message that I did not agree with on a daily basis. I am not going to give examples, but if you are curious,  Google leaders in an fitness industry and follow them for a bit, you may feel undoubtedly and incredibly inspired, I want you to to make up your own opinion if they send a balanced message or one that promotes unrealistic body image expectations.   I do not blame anyone else and take full accountability that this industry was a dangerous place for me to rest my career laurels upon on a day in and day out basis.

In closing, I would not trade the short (but eventful!) stint I had as a fitness professional? (OMG, am I officially retired, if so where my pension be hiding???? ) Seriously  the best way I can surmise this blog is with a quote I had written on my social media account in January. “I’m SO grateful that I became some of the things I was. To truly realize who I AM.. who I am NOT. and who I can BECOME.” (LJF) Sometimes you have to go through it, in it, do it, see it, be it,  to realize that you do not want to be “it”.

*mlm fitness shakes & videos, I’m not going to go all into brand-name etc, because well I’m just not..I tend to over explain and I seriously do not want to lose you on some needless drivel

**I’m NOT  disrespecting ANYONE that does show before after pictures etc, it simply made me uncomfortable in a way that was not needed for ME.

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Laurie Free View All →

Laurie Free has two high-spirited children, with the trial lawyer litigation skills, when it comes to basic hygiene, such as teeth. Her patient, loving husband has supported her through all career endeavors, ranging from teaching Hip Hop Fitness,
(and I flunked "swag school") to peppering him with questions such as,
"Why haven't you turned on the 'wifi-gigibyte-hot-spot, and can you find the Gravatar?"

She does not scrapbook and lifted the name from the show "Friends", when Phoebe told Monica she was "Scrappie". She "scraps" her way with gusto into every endeavor. Yesterday she announced "I want to be a Life Coach"
.. Maybe, one day it will be Scrap-booking, till then I hope you enjoy my blog!

8 Comments Leave a comment

    • Hey girl!! Oh yes, its been long time coming, I actually made a decision long x ago, bc I really want to write and I thought I could do both ( teach, etc & write) ,and I simply couldn’t get it all done. Im very very happy doing a 30~40 min video or jog or walk and then being done with my vBulletin exercise for the day. It was just taking over my thoughts & life unhealthy way. Thanks honey so much for your feedback and support:)

  1. I couldn’t help but notice that you alluded to my “muffin top” remark in that Barbie comment, so I came to check out the post you referenced.
    I read every word.
    I say that emphatically because I doubt many would. I’m new to WordPress, but…I know how it’s done. If it helps, scratch out the things you want to address in bullet-point form in advance, then start your draft. Try to say what you want as succinctly and clearly as you can and people will click away less often.
    What I really enjoyed about this post was how it was a totally unfiltered glimpse into the mind of a middle-aged mom. Amazing insight! (And a little scary, I’ll be honest! Heh heh)
    I noticed a lady at work today reading a book at her desk. It was open to some guy doing an insane yoga pose. I remarked on it and she said that she was just finishing up the 300 hours it apparently took her to become an instructor herself.
    This woman is no spring chicken either. Three kids at home.
    “Wow, that is AWESOME!” I told her.
    (Yeah, I threw in a few jokes about how I’ve considered joining a Yoga class too, if only for the fact that 95% of them will likely be fitness conscious young ladies, all glistening with sweet-smelling sweat!)
    Anyway, if you think you’ve genuinely reached the point where you’re physically incapable of doing this — this thing that you love — well, that’s one thing.
    But my best advice to you would be to IGNORE any of your detractors. Even if they’re the ones in your own head. It’s not “flipping a switch,” it’s…ignoring the switch altogether.
    Hmmm. Can we do better?
    How about, “Your ‘switch’ should always be set to ‘Go!-Go!-GO!’ rather than ‘No!-No!-NO!’”
    Hmmm. That also sucked.
    But I hope you appreciate the sentiment, Laurie. You’re a classy lady!

    • Thanks so much..for replying , I liked what you wrote and should have commented on it bc I saw what you were saying too, .i w as just scrolling really fast and muffin top really stuck in my head bc its a massively used buzz word in fitness biz..
      you seem to have the same “snark”, and I mean that as a compliment.
      My head is definitely my best attribute and my worst attribute. Its got me into the best of times and worst of times wait is that a book I was supposed to read??
      Thanks so much for your feedback! Im new at WordPress too, I find it hard to maneuver and I want to follow you but it may take me a day to figure out how to do that… thanks for commenting
      Yoga is a BEAST. I dabble in the poses on pintrest but I probably should have emts on hand ..:)

      • Heh heh. Yeah, I don’t think I’d seriously JOIN a Yoga class, but I might pay an actress to join.

        Why?

        Well, after she attended a few classes, I’d call her phone when I knew (in advance) that she was on a break. She would then switch to “total bitch” mode and berate me, her “boyfriend,” in a completely unsympathetic way. You know, in front of all the hot chicks who’d be listening?

        “Oh yeah?! You think that because you’re a heart surgeon you can have a poker night with the boys!? FORGET IT! And NO, I am NOT taking care of YOUR dog anymore, got it? I’ve hated it since the MOMENT I met you! In fact! We’re DONE! Officially BROKEN UP! No! DO NOT come down here and try and talk me out of it!”

        So then she’d leave in a huff, and the ladies would talk amongst themselves.

        Fifteen minutes later? I walk with my suit and a prop stethoscope. A few fake tears on my cheek? The ADORABLE little puppy I rented?

        “Excuse me, ladies? Just wondering if you had seen my FORMER girlfriend?”

        The Ladies: “You JUST missed her! Hi, I’m Stephanie!”

        :p

      • Hysterical! Yes this is absolutely what you should and need to do!! everyone in yoga is all delirious from doing all those headstands and stuff. Which I have tried. by using my grandmothers 2000 year old sofa as a “block” and really well, she must have intervened from up above bc I fell and got scared that I was going to break a bone or something. I can never try anything at beginner level. I must start out at “bad-ass” level I know it’s not necessarily an attribute.

  2. Great article. I like how is just raw thought and emotions of what you had to go through to realize you didn’t want it. Thanks for sharing

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