What This Personal Trainer Thinks (Pain, etc)

I’m often asked if I judge people by their size or laugh at people. Oh my God, no. I don’t weigh clients either unless they want to be. It isn’t something I focus on. What do I focus on? Their goals. What THEY want.

I became overweight for the first time ever following a slight c-spine fracture. I was in incredible pain, my daughter was sick in a wheelchair and we were told that my husband of 2 mos was dying. This….after leaving my country. Friends. Family. Good medical care. So there we were, me in pain in physical therapy and my husband coughing up blood clots, a full plate with people expecting us to take care of them (feed them, wait on them, etc). It was overwhelming. Frustrating. We couldn’t keep up. I slowly gained weight.

I come from a culture…. a background…. a family of: “Get it done.”

As an epileptic who can’t drive, I was thinking about this while walking a 1/4 mile home with 20-pounds of cat litter on my head (Stick around, I’ll give proper instructions later on how to do that).

Many times I’ve resented those who expected me to do nearly the impossible such as come back from a spinal fracture and kick ass once again. But I watch clients struggle to do a single sit-up and I think….. no, I’m glad to have come from what I have.

Most of the people I’ve met here wouldn’t be able to survive all on their own in a country without a single person and done what I have especially after loss and being brutally raped as I was soon after my husband died. I’m sorry if that sounds arrogant but I’m the person whose (male) neighbors expected to mow their lawns 2 days after my husband died (& they knew he had).

I survived incredible cruelty in the weeks following my husband death. And physically….what I had to do….. walk miles to buy people food, carry that home, to cook that for them as the brand-new widow.

Physical fitness ALSO makes one EMOTIONALLY hardy. 

I won’t forget my father saying to me: “This ship is going down, you’ve got to tag this black. You got the clear from the doc to make your gradual return to heavy training. Let’s get back into elite shape. He’s going to die. You need to be ready for that.”

He died and I’ll admit, being in the condition I was in….I felt more capable. And capable was what I needed to be because people here couldn’t stop shitting on me and my daughter in our agony and pain.

When I’ve told this story (what my father said about tagging it black after explaining what that phrase means) to people in Canada, their reply every single time has been: “How mean!” It’s mean to be truthful? Realistic? (Ironically, these are the same people who expected me to wait on them hand and foot before and after my husband died which I think of as quite cruel).

If you’re able to withstand the pain of an especially long plank…. or deal with the pain of a hard surface boring into the palm of your hand while you do push-ups on it…. I’m sorry…. I am…. but this builds character.

No, my hands aren’t pretty. Either are my feet. But the rest of me………

I dared complain about painful wrists while training with my not-from-North-America martial arts teacher. He replied: “You need to strengthen your wrists.” Instead of giving them a rest…..that was the immediate answer.

Thank God I grew up with fitness being akin to breathing…. sleeping…. eating. You work out. You just work out. Your time of the month is no excuse not to. (In fact, working out regularly shortens your days and can make cramps, not a thing).

I was disciplined with push-ups as a kid. I watched sports. I tossed the football around. Activity was/is….life.

You don’t do it to lose weight. You don’t do it to meet a weight goal. You do it every day. For your entire life. You do what you can. And chances are…you can do more than you’re doing….

Here’s something that’s hard to admit.

I got fat and my healing from my neck was delayed because I left my country. I got married. I had my husband to drive me around while he still could. I COULD get fat.

Geez…..I couldn’t now. Even if I wanted to.

I carry 20 lbs. of cat litter on my head a 1/4 of a mile….

If you’re overweight and out of shape…. I’m sorry to say….your life has been easy. That’s not to say that I don’t understand! Hey, I was the one with a kid in a wheelchair, with a dying husband and a broken neck. I KNOW life happens. But….


Back home….it would have been:

“I know what you’re made of.”

“I know what you came from.”

“I know what you’ve done.”

And I know this because… when I stopped running, when I said, “okay, let’s do this, let’s get me back…let’s get back to burpees and all the crazy shit I did before I fell all apart…” That’s what was said to me.

…………………………………. and DESPITE injury and sick kid….. I would have been PUSHED. Back home, I would have been.

I hated that that is what I come from. I resented these people who came to OUR home to be waited on while one family member was dying, another was wheelchair-bound, and I was broken. But these people have had it …..easy.

Yeah. I said it. They got to take a day off after the loss of a spouse. They got to roll into a ball and cry. As they should have. As I should have. But I didn’t get that because I had to provide for people who have had an easy life. People who have had a hard life develop empathy and a perspective outside of their own, and don’t feel entitled to a brand-new window waiting on them.

You’ve had people do for you….. if you can’t do a single sit-up…. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but it’s a reality. You find out just what you can do when you HAVE to. Or you MAKE yourself but most people don’t.

Because….they feel entitled. Entitled to be waited on. Entitled to have someone else run up the stairs to get them this or that.



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