I am Michelle. Mom of 3 kids (10, 8, 2) and wife to a great man-Peter!
Can I tell you a story about myself?
Part 1: My childhood
So growing up, I was the active kid, but, it’s safe to say that I was not, you know, the smallest kid and I did struggle with weight. I grew up in a home where my mom went to Weight Watchers and watched what she ate all the time. I think I was five years old when I entered Weight Watchers. I wasn’t going for myself. I was just a tag a long for my mom. Growing up, I knew exactly what it meant to count points, to get badges for weight loss, watch the number on the scale and I think it kind of shaped who I am today.
I was the athletic kid, but, you know, I was a little bit on the chubbier side. Let’s just put it that way. Kids did tease me a bit, but I think, you know at that point, I don’t want to say it was bullying, but nowadays you could call it that. At an early age I really knew that I needed to be active in order to have an outlet, to feel good and feel part of a group. That’s where I learned that physical activity was going to be part of my life. Going through high school I started the obsession over food. Picture your teen years- you’re in cliques, then there are the boys and dating and I wasn’t really into dating but I wanted to feel accepted. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was always focusing on food and my friends knew that- “Michelle is going to eat celery and carrots at the cafeteria” is something they often teased me about. I didn’t show it at the time but it bothered me why they were so invested in what I ate while they ate all their poutines. I never let it show but it affected how I was perceived with friends my whole life. Those memories stay with you
Part 2: University life and my eating disorder
As many would say, you do not want to project how you feel on your kids. Like don’t put your weight struggles on your kids. And I think as parents, you don’t do it on purpose. You just do what you do at the time and you do your best. And growing up in that environment and seeing my mom go through weight loss and feeling amazing, you know, reaching a certain goal weight, getting praised, getting badges, always counting her points. For me it actually taught me at an early age how food plays an important role in your life-maybe not for the better. I want to let you know that speaking with your kids about nutrition at an early age CAN BE POSITIVE and if you need tips or advice on what to say, please reach out to a qualified nutrition coach who deals with youth and teens.
As I entered University my obsession intensified and I suffered from a mild eating disorder. I knew I needed to fuel my body but all I could think about was getting the number lower on the scale. I went from over exercising to starving for a few days to keep those numbers dropping. It never was ENOUGH. And I think my childhood, my mom, the Weight Watchers-it all was playing a major negative role on my obsession.
Part 3: Becoming a fitness instructor
You know, I never really used exercise as a way to lose the weight. I focused on food more than the exercise. Exercise always made me feel good. I became a fitness instructor at the age of 15 and it was amazing. I loved teaching and the feeling I got being around like minded people. I finally felt like I belonged. I also loved playing soccer and used sports and fitness as a way to make me feel better about myself. It was the obsession over food that became the problem. Going through university finding a whole new group of friends and learning to cope with an eating disorder was tough. It was really tough. At this point I knew that I needed to change my life. If I was going to be successful in helping others, I needed to help myself first. I wanted to become a teacher- my sister’s teacher, my cousin’s a teacher and I thought that was my dream-until I walked into my first Health Sciences class! I was glued to the professor and all the info he was teaching. I still remember my first class. It was about how obesity can have an affect on preventable diseases. It was at that moment I knew this was my career path. I wanted to teach on a different level and promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles. I wanted to become a personal trainer and instructor, not only to just teach fitness, but to share the journey and understand and have empathy toward other people going through the same thing. That was where I knew that my life was going to take a turn and I was on the right path. This is where my business was born-at that time called Be Active!
Part 4: My First Pregnancy & Finding My Passion Again
I later got a job as a coordinator at a local community gym and took a mini pause from my training business. I learned that I had a passion for serving a larger community at this job and was determined to help as many people as I could. I later got pregnant with my first son, Gabriel, who’s going to be 10! I was so excited to be pregnant and thought I was going to be that fitness girl who was fit throughout her whole pregnancy. Boy was I wrong…no pun indented! I had an accident teaching a ball class and fell at 4 months and after two weeks I couldn’t walk. My nerve was affected, and I had to be put on medical leave and eventually bed rest. I gained 65 pounds, was unfit and very depressed. I had my first C-section at 26 and on September 16, 2010 I became a mom.
No one tells you that you could NOT have a great pregnancy. Every ad or magazine shows happy ladies with petite bellies. Not me, I couldn’t walk, I waddled everywhere, I was always out of breath and I couldn’t get up a stair if my life depended on me. This was the complete opposite of what I was used too.
After my C-section I knew I had a lot of work to do to get back to being fit. I literally lost myself in that pregnancy. Even though I was teaching and training for 5 years prior, I felt lost and I did not have a community or support system to ask questions or even have accountability with. This was my first post partum journey.
Unfortunately my eating disorder did not disappear. I still struggled with my eating. I only wanted to see the number go down the scale. I didn’t think of being fixed. I didn’t think of getting strong. I did not think — I want to be strong for my kids-only how to lose weight. I still struggled with getting down and literally used food, not exercise to get that number on the scale. I did eventually lose all my pregnancy weight. And after nine months, I got pregnant with my second son and I dove into that pregnancy with those feelings of depression. I was so excited to be pregnant but the fear of the weight gain, the bed rest, the unhealthy body were huge fears. I wanted my kids to be close in age but with not getting the help I needed for my eating disorder, I actually lost myself even further. I was ashamed of saying that I didn’t like to be pregnant. I felt unfit. I felt unwanted. And my husband was amazing. It was nothing that anyone ever said, it was all in my mind. I gained another 68 pounds with that pregnancy. And I gave birth at 37 weeks to a big healthy boy! But I had some complications from the spinal and as a result I had to be on strict bed rest for 2–3 weeks. I was cursed. That was the hardest and most painful thing I had ever been through. I was emotionally drained and now I had this new baby who needed to bed fed around the clock and a toddler who also needed me. And I was helpless. I just remember those feelings of, I want this to be over. I fell hard into post partum depression and eventually needed to speak to someone. This is what NO ONE talks about and I was also ashamed of having these feelings.
After a few sessions with a therapist, I had come to the realization that I lost myself and I needed to find what I love. And that love was fitness. In 2013, I re-branded my business name and called it Be Active Live Better. This was my saviour.
I needed to find purpose again and I longed for a community of like-minded people. I wanted to help others feel good about themselves and not feel like I did-lost. The community that grew was amazing. When you joined my class you became family and it was always inclusive. The more people I could help get fit, the more I felt like myself.
Everyone has a story. Even myself, as you’ve just read. But if you met me today and did one of my online classes, you may be like, Oh, Michelle, you’re so fit. But there was a point in my life that I hated exercise. I despised it. I felt uncomfortable in my skin. I didn’t like the clothes I was in. I just wanted to close the door and just be by myself. If this resonates with you, remember you can get out of it, you can.
I am a believer of fitness and finding your tribe because it did and it was my saving grace. I went from wanting to be skinny to wanting to be strong AF! The mindset work that had to be done continues today. It’s not something that happened overnight. I don’t wake up every day and be like, I’m perfect. It’s something that I work at every day. But having a great community that supports you and is your biggest cheerleader is one of the best things for you!
Fitness is not a season, it’s a lifestyle. Find your tribe and find something that makes you smile. Everyone has a story and just know there is always support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If you want to feel supported in your fitness and healthy journey, come join our community.
Thank you for reading my story and if you need help on starting, reach out!
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