Since we launched MOVE, we have built an amazing community of women who are willing to take the first step, the next steps, and all the ones after that. So we've decided to start this blog to help you take your journey to the next level.
When Fitness Had Failed Me
February 24, 2019
My “fitness” journey started 20 years ago when, like many of you, I joined a gym, because that seemed to be what the masses were doing.
I was getting in some cardio on the elliptical when a male trainer approached me. He asked how it was going and commented that I would look amazing if I lost a few pounds and gained some muscle. WTF, right? I will never forget that day because that was the day that changed my life, and changed me.
With that small but mighty comment, so began a 20 year battle with fitness, food and my body. Who would have thought one little statement could hold so much power? Not me.
In an industry so filled with beautiful possibilities it makes me sad to see how toxicity slips so easily into the culture. Whether it’s subtle like my experience or as extreme as an advertisement promising you an unbelievable 8 week transformation, it’s all equally damaging. If any of this resonates with you or brings up some big feelings, it’s ok. Speaking from my experience and from my heart, there IS a better way to achieve a sustainable and healthy version of you while building an amazing, positive relationship with fitness, food and your body.
I was perfectly, pleasantly……average
I would never have described my body as “skinny” or “big”. I honestly just felt “average” and I was really okay with that. Like every one of you, I sometimes would look in the mirror and think “my hips are big” or “my body looks funny”, but to be honest, it was always just a fleeting moment, the thoughts came in, and then left pretty quickly.
I hired that trainer
I ended up hiring that trainer, you know, the one who criticized my appearance by preying on female insecurities, great sales tactic, by the way.
We worked out 3x a week with weights and I very quickly saw my body change. I was really enjoying weight training and my time in the gym. The added bonus was that I was all of a sudden getting a lot of attention on my external appearance. My body had NEVER been praised like this, it was addictive and like any other addiction, I wanted more….I thought I needed more.
Both men and women, from people I knew to perfect strangers, all were pumping me up and It quickly became my driving force for exercise and ultimately fuelling my addiction.
The muscle definition. The body.
Was it actually possible that I was starting to look like those girls on the cover of fitness magazines? The fitness industry was feeding every single one of my insecurities, and it tasted so good.
I was making the cut
I never actually noticed that with all of my hard work I was getting stronger. No one, including my trainer, seemed to take notice how strong I had become, or the fact that I could do a pull up, a freaking pull up!! It was seemingly insignificant to the fact that my back looked so muscly, while doing those pull ups. No one commented on how strong my core was when doing those squats, rather, that coveted 6-pack seemed way more important. The world of fitness became, for me, all about what showed up on the exterior and nothing more. Sound familiar?
I started weighing myself daily for validation. I was addicted to the feedback I was getting from that square piece of metal on my bathroom floor. It had so much power and would ultimately determine my mood for the day and week ahead and gave me the feedback of whether I was successful or not. What it didn’t tell me was how good I felt in my clothes or how much newly found energy I had and how absolutely great movement made me feel. I had become so strong and none of that mattered and if that isn’t toxic and unhealthy, I don't know what is.
A tiny little voice
It wasn't long before another male trainer approached me and recommended I enter a fitness competition, “You'd do well” he said. Not sure how he could have made that assessment from simply looking at me but I guess that only further demonstrates how unhealthy this supposed “healthy” world actually was.
I will admit, there was a tiny little voice in the back of my mind that nudged me and said “I’m not sure about this”, but perhaps because I was getting so much attention, or because I didn't have the confidence or “self-love” or real strength, I said ok, let’s do it.
I said yes.
I was immediately given a diet plan, which was written out on a piece of paper right in front of me (that should have been my waring signal). It was a standard, bodybuilding cookie cutter template consisting of egg whites, chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoes, brown rice, protein powder, white fish and occasionally some nuts.
Macros and calories would vary from week to week, but not much changed. I was told to weigh and measure all my foods and was given a strict guide for my caloric intake. If I stepped even an inch outside of this plan, I was “cheating”and was made to feel like I failed. I was handcuffed to 1200 calories a day with the super added bonus of one day where I would be permitted a few “extra carbs” – wow, thanks. That piece of paper was running my life, my mood, my decisions and how I felt about myself. It had me obsessing about food, secretly binging and purging on cookies or cake and then feeling so much guilt and shame. I would often write my trainer in distress about falling off the plan and was instructed to add an extra cardio session to make up for it, even if it meant a third workout for the day. I officially had an eating disorder and hated fitness.
My exercise program was written out for me each month. It included 6 days in the gym, 2 workouts a day. 1 hour of cardio in the morning on an empty stomach and weights in the evening focused on different muscle groups. I was allowed 1 rest day. ( PS - have you ever heard the expression - less is more? I'll talk about this in another article).
I was given 12 weeks to prepare for this competition which included weekly check - ins and weigh ins. I continued with my trainer 3x a week and was often asked if I was being good on my diet and if I was doing all my cardio. Sometimes I would tell the truth, often I would lie. The truth is, I was burnt out and hurt all over. I hated every minute of my workouts. My midsection was often checked to ensure I was on point for that six pack. That fear was quite often enough to keep me strict as well the reality that my body was soon going to be judged on stage, in a bikini, against 30 other women. As if wearing a bikini to the beach isn't hard enough! My body image was destroyed, just like that. I didn’t even know what I was dealing with was considered “disordered”.
I was so tired.
I was exhausted. I was overtraining and starving most of the time. I developed horrible insomnia. My period stopped, but damn I “looked so good” so all of that was ok. I would complain to the trainers at the gym how tired I was and that I wasn't sleeping yet they kept encouraging me along, saying I was almost there and looking good.
Competition day arrived, I was 14 percent body fat, and 119 lbs. I was spray tanned, had my pink bejeweled bikini and those gawd awful clear glass heals you had to wear. My face looked awful, so depleted and so tired. None of that mattered because all the stage lighting and make up and curls would cover all of that up. I was the perfect picture of beauty and strength that inspired other women.
I was so nervous.
I will never forget that day. I was so nervous. I vividly remember sizing up my competition and all I could think was “I don't measure up”, “they have more muscle than me”, “she's prettier than me”. They were with their coaches practicing their stage walk and poses. Part of me felt disgusted and like I really didn’t belong there….but I had come so far……
Who had the best ass?
In preparation for this fitness “competition” I was told that a six pack was great, but the defining moment I really needed to be focused on was that moment you turn around and show the judges your ass. Here I was, 12 weeks of KILLING myself all came down to whether a panel of judges thought my “ass” was the best……
I placed 3rd among a lineup of 20 women. I was devastated but was eager for the feedback from the judges. They told me I needed to gain more muscle and lean out even more. I felt like such a failure I immediately became tempted to head down the road of steroids that I knew many were involved with. Thank god I somehow knew better....
Enter the addiction
I went on to repeat this cycle for 6 more years. In that time I competed in 6 more competitions, never walking away with a win. I appeared in fitness magazines and through all of this, continued to destroy my body, my mind and ultimately my relationship with fitness. My weight rebounded by nearly 20 lbs after each show and my self-hate grew stronger and stronger each time. I was full on in the binge/purge cycle and used exercise as my punishment.
Where were “my” people?
During this entire time, in my fitness community, I didn’t have one single source of positive influence to help me see how destructive and damaging this was. I was feeding a billion dollar industry exactly what they needed. There weren't any of the fiercely dedicated body positive advocates I surround myself with today who would have kicked my ass and helped me see how toxic these habits and behaviors were. I did, however, have one very special soul who was part of my personal life and provided that one constant voice, which for a long time I fought to listen to. My incredible husband literally helped me turn this ship of insanity around. He cared so deeply about my wellbeing and was relentlessly committed to helping me regain control. He's literally my world and was the reason I was able to find the strength and courage to rebuild myself.
Not all bad.
Despite the years of struggle and despair, I can’t say it was all bad. After all, it launched me into a career I’m so passionate about that is part of my DNA and always will be. Although my intentions in the beginning were driven by the wrong reasons, it catapulted me into a never-ending pursuit of growth, learning and using the damage and heartache to fuel my passion and help others from making those same mistakes. For a long time, I felt ashamed and embarrassed of my career in fitness and calling myself a “fitness professional”. But today I only feel gratitude for the unconventional, less than ideal journey I took to get where I am because it made me so much smarter, and humble and gave me the focus I needed to create the space we have at MOVE.
Any of this sound familiar? Aren’t you sick and tired of a woman's worth being judged by her physical appearance? Be it your own judgment or others? It’s 2019. Enough of this ladies!
My Team and I are here to actively and passionately be a part of the change and create a movement of warriors dedicated to changing the internal question from “how do I look” to “how do I feel?” In our opinion, far more important than how a woman's ass looks in an Instagram post, no?
More on Coach and Founder Kelly
Kelly Taphouse is a certified trainer with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. After trying to achieve unsustainable levels of fitness as a competitive fitness model, Kelly became discouraged with an industry that is so often focused on outward appearances. After having a child, she rediscovered her passion for being fit and healthy. Kelly’s mission is to make women feel strong by helping them achieve their own fitness goals, from the inside out.
CanFitPro Certified Personal Training Specialist
DTS Fundamentals, Level 1
Certified Agatsu Kettle Bell Coach
Certified Movement and Mobility Specialist - MWOD
Agatsu Mobility Specialist
Pre/Post Natal Fitness
Poliquin Level 1
TRX Suspension Training
Certified Neuro-Linguistic Coach
Certified Animal Flow Instructor
Food Mindset - Eat To Live or Live To Eat
Food Mindset: Live to Eat or Eat to Live?
By Monica Radu
It is no secret that our relationship with food is complex, confusing, and in many cases just outright frustrating. We are constantly being bombarded with mixed messages about it, whether it’s the newest trend of what to eat/what not to eat, another diet/cleanse/pill, or “tips and tricks” to curb hunger. So much exposure to all of this has left us struggling to find a healthy relationship with food and has taken away our ability to trust the natural cues that our bodies give us.
So how do we work to change this and get back to a more intuitive style of eating which will make us feel our best?
It first starts with taking a closer look at your relationship with food. Do you live to eat or eat to live? Before picking one option, consider that these are two opposite ends on a spectrum. We all eat to live to a certain extent – of course we consume food in order to function and carry on through our day to day lives but the more extreme side of this is the idea that food is nothing but fuel and nourishment. There is no room for pleasure and satisfaction here.
On the other end of the spectrum is living to eat. This is a mindset where food is a central focus in your life. Every day activities revolve around your eating whether that means you are constantly thinking about your next meal or relying heavily on food for comfort and pleasure.
I can say from experience that neither one of these extremes are ideal.
I have taken on the mindset that food is to be eaten purely for its nutritional value. I repeated this mantra over and over again in an attempt to establish control over my body and behaviors. All this did was lead me to become obsessive, rigid, and unsatisfied. It filled me with shame and guilt whenever I would deviate from this strict clean diet that I believed was best for me.
The reality is that food is NOT just fuel. We are not just cars that need gas, we are human beings with far more complex needs and emotions.
It is a source of pleasure and comfort and there is nothing wrong with that. Food is a big part of so many cultures and it is something that brings people together. There should be no shame in enjoying it! There is a difference between enjoying food and being overly reliant on it to bring you comfort/pleasure. This brings us back to the importance of finding balance on this spectrum. When we are in the state of using food as a coping mechanism, it is a signal that we are missing something else.
The problem is that we have lost trust in our body’s ability to guide us on how to eat because we have spent so much time trying to fight against it. We have become afraid to allow ourselves to enjoy food because we spend so much time restricting that when we allow ourselves freedom, we are doing it from a place of deprivation and restriction so of course we are far more likely to overindulge. Once we overindulge, we end up back on the guilt train which then sends us straight back to the “I need to diet” mindset and then it all starts again. See a pattern?
Many of you are probably thinking exactly what I thought when I first heard this. “If I let myself eat whatever I want, I’ll eat everything!”
The reality is that if you have been restricting and dieting for a long time, there will be times where you lose control on the road to reconnecting with your body’s needs. For so long you have been telling your body that it can’t eat that, but has to eat this and we all know what happens when you say you can’t have something… you want it more!
It will take some unlearning and a lot of trust in the process so the best thing you can do is be patient with yourself.
It takes a lot of conscious effort to stop listening to that voice in your head that says you need to exercise to make up for that meal or eat less to compensate for eating too much. Part of finding that balance is allowing your body to go through that rebound phase after restricting and trusting that you will soon settle into a more balanced place where you can make food choices without fear and from a place where you know you will be nourished and also satisfied.
Food is such a big part of our lives and it should be enjoyed and bring you some satisfaction. It should also be a way to fuel your body to allow it to perform at its best. Enjoying the food you eat and eating nourishing foods are not mutually exclusive. The sooner we align with this idea, the sooner we can make peace with food and ourselves.
More on Coach Monica!
As Club Assistant General Manager, Group Coach, Personal Trainer AND a former gymnast and handstand queen, she loves to move and is always looking for the next fun new challenge to try!
She first discovered her passion for health and fitness after a major turning point in her life when she was diagnosed with cancer as a young adult. Prior to that she had struggled with losing weight, trying diet after diet, but it wasn't until her outlook on health changed that she saw so many positive changes in her life. After a full recovery she became dedicated to living the healthiest and most enjoyable life she could, and now has a vision to help other women do the same.
CanFitPro Certified Personal Training Specialist
DTS Fundamentals, Level 1
Diploma in Health & Fitness Promotion from Humber College
Why Strength Training is important
January 17, 2019
The Year of You
As we jump right into 2019, we have lofty goals for ourselves, our members and the entire female fitness community! And with that we are thrilled to announce monthly education we'll be sharing with you!
We get so many questions about, well, so many things related to fitness, women, their bodies and nutrition, so we figured we'd put our pen to paper!
We want to promote a culture of empowering women everywhere and with that comes education on the whys, the hows and, of course, mindset, We will focus on body love, strength training and the important relationship between your time at the gym and nutrition. Pretty much we will be sharing all of our knowledge to help you understand.
So let’s talk Strength Training……….
Here at MOVE we love to lift heavy things. That said, it is really important for our members AND all women who are thinking about strength training to know WHY strength training is as important as sleep and how we nourish our bodies and mind.
Our mission is to no longer hear from women they are worried about “bulking up” if they lift weights or believe they need endless hours of conditioning and caloric restriction to be in control of their body composition. That said we also want to to empower women with the the perspective that there is no one perfect body type and body love doesn't come from aiming to look like someone on Instagram. Knowledge is power and our goal is to give you ALL OF THE POWER!
We are myth busting and educating ALL the women about how strength training will change their hearts, minds and bodies…… forever!!!
Why Strength Training Is Important
By Alex Boras-Harmer
Let’s get to the bottom line here: strength training is the bomb.com… but why? There is an abundance of info out there on the web, but not all of it is reputable and who knows where to even start looking for legitimate advice and information. So let’s break it down and keep it to this simple summary: whatever your fitness and health-related goals are, strength training will get you there.
So what’s your goal? To look good naked? To love your body? To move better? To fight off illness or stress? To be healthier in general? To run a 10k? To play with your kids? To feel badass? To lose weight? To get a good workout in and feel good? Strength training will help with all of the above, and better and faster than any other one type of training.
Look good naked and love your body
Although cardio-intensive workouts can feel like the “harder” workout, strength training actually burns more calories overall. Strength training has a much greater level of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption than aerobic or cardio exercise. What does this mean? When you finish a workout, your body needs to do a lot of work to replenish itself and recover in order to bring itself back down to baseline. When you strength train, this process takes more work. More work = more energy needed. Calories = energy, thus more energy needed to repair = more calories burned.
On top of this, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. This is because it takes your body more calories to maintain muscle than it does to maintain fat… so strength training = increased lean muscle mass = more calories burned. The bottom line here is regardless of what your goal body is, strength training is going to give you the best metabolic boost to help you feel and look stronger.
Everything is EASIER when you’re strong
Carry your kids around? Light weight. Grocery trip with all the milk, juice, laundry detergent, and every other heavy fluid known to mankind? No sweat. Suddenly moving anything, including your own body, becomes so much easier. You become a real life superwoman.
If you’re looking for a workout in which you get the biggest bang for your buck, strength training is it. Strength training increases bone density, builds a stronger heart, reduces your resting blood pressure, improves blood flow, halts muscle loss, helps control blood sugar, improves cholesterol levels, and improves your balance and coordination… What’s not to love about any of this?
You’ll feel better, more confident, and happier
Not only will you find yourself with more energy and confidence, less stress and anxiety and a better overall mood, you’ll actually begin to think better (resistance training has been proven to help increase memory, critical thinking, and reasoning), the endorphin boost is out of this world, and psychologically the feeling of being able to pick up something super heavy is unbeatable! Ladies are you with us!!??
More on Coach Alex!
Ever since she was little, Alex knew her future would lie in helping people, fighting for a bigger purpose, and never taking herself too seriously! Although she initially explored personal training and coaching as a hobby outside of her career in health research, Alex decided to flip that lifestyle upside down and pursue coaching full-time when she realized that was where her true passions lay. Alex is a firm believer in doing what you love and that everyone has unlimited potential- they just need the right environment. With a bachelors in Kinesiology and Health Psychology from the University of Toronto, Alex is dedicated to not only ensuring that your form is immaculate, but to helping you become the strongest version of yourself, both physically and mentally. After years of competitive sport and an unhealthy relationship with food and fitness, Alex now approaches fitness and nutrition with a mindful, positive attitude and is on a mission to help all women feel proud, confident, and powerful!
Bachelors of Kinesiology (Honours) University of Toronto
Certified Mobility WOD Mobility and Movement Specialist
CrossFit Level 2 Trainer
Agatsu Olympic Lifting & Mobility Certification Level 1
CrossFit Weightlifting Level 1
CrossFit Kids Trainer
CrossFit Spot the Flaw
Introduction to Inclusion Level 1: Adapted Physical Activity
Completion of Vladamir Safanov Intensive Olympic Lifting Camp
Completion of Brute Gymnastics Camp
Stay tuned for our all of our upcoming articles and features!
The MOVE Fam xox
The ins and outs of MOVE fitness club, helping you to get MOVING.
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