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Did I suck you in with those before and after photos?

I love reading transformation stories. I love reading about people who have made big changes for themselves. I love knowing what happened to get them to the point that they decided that they wanted something different for themselves.

I have my own transformation story. It started when I found out that I was pregnant with my son. It is the day that I know I started to pull out of the deepest part of grieving my dad’s death. It became abundantly clear that so many things around me were very wrong. This fog that I had created had lifted and nothing around me had changed but me. Things didn’t change quickly. I went through with planning a wedding that I tried to cancel many times.

The red flags were slapping me in the face but, I still went through with it because at the time it was easier to pretend. The money that was already spent, the time, disappointing people, it just seemed easier to continue, and my personal favourite being judged by others. How many things have you done or not done simply from the fear of being judged?

I continued on in this manner for a while. It was also a nice time, I was so in love with this perfect little baby and how incredible he was. I got to spend everyday with him. How lucky was I?

Then just before my son turned one my sons father drove drunk with him in his truck. He wasn’t even in his car seat. I was broken. I was so incredibly broken. I didn’t tell anyone immediately. I didn’t even know what to say. I had been hiding my real life from everyone. This wasn’t the first terrible thing that had happened or the last but it was the breaking point.

I was in an abusive relationship. This is a hard thing to say out loud. It is still scary to talk about. I stayed for another year. How could I leave? I felt like I had nothing. I had been convinced that I couldn’t stand on my own two feet. It’s hard to really comprehend how much being in this type of a relationship will shut you down. I don’t care if you’re the most confident, successful person in the world. It can break you.

You do the exact opposite of what you might think. Right now think of the advice you might give your friend if you thought they were in an abusive relationship. You would tell them to leave, to seek help, talk to someone. In my personal experience I did the opposite. You stay, you blame yourself, you’re embarrassed, you try to be better in some way, you make every excuse in the book, you pull away from those closest to you, you certainly don’t tell anyone.

At this time I still felt like I couldn’t change the circumstances of my life but I started to heal the broken parts of myself. This wasn’t an intentional act. I certainly didn’t have the self awareness at that time to do this for myself.

I returned to fitness. I’ve worked out for years, it is what I do for a living. I lost that part of myself while my life was falling apart. I started to go to Crossfit. I got out into the big bad world I had shut out and started making new friends. I felt sooo much better about myself. The physical transformation started, but the biggest and best transformation was steam rolling ahead. I started to feel like myself again. I was surrounded by like minded people who also loved the things I did.

Fitness and lifting have always been my escape. It is my go to. It has always been there to pick me up when I was down. I know that a good workout will always set me straight. Lifting has changed my whole life. I know that the life I have now and absolutely love is a result of self esteem boosting fitness.

Accomplishing things you didn’t know were possible, pushing yourself to a new personal best. The community that you can build within fitness is incredible. You get a whole new support system to share your ups and downs. Fitness will build you up in ways you didn’t even know were possible. Wanting a physical transformation is why most people start their fitness journey, but when you start to notice all of the other benefits I’m sure you will want to do it for life. I also found my absolute best friend. I will be thankful for that every day.

I was having a hard time writing this post for many reason. One of the big ones was that this was super scary to actually write it down. Full disclosure I just cried reading it out loud to Connor. I still sometimes think about this new mom who was already struggling and feel sad for how broken she was. I feel sad for the girl in the picture above who just had a baby six months before fake smiling, trying to carry on like everything is fine.

I know what fitness has done for me but I also have the privilege of watching it every day with my own clients. I get to watch people’s lives change everyday. I get to teach people how to use exercise as a stress reliever, to use it to help battle anxiety, depression, to use it to fall in love with themselves, learning to be proud of themselves. To help better explain this I thought the best way would be to ask some of my clients what it was about lifting that they loved.

What has lifting done for you?

Lifting is a for sure stress reliever for me. No matter how bad my day has been going or what crazy shit may be going on in my life I know I can come to class work it out in class and feel better when I leave. It’s also a plus that it is is with a great group of motivational women 😉 It also makes me feel proud. Proud of myself for not giving up just because it’s hard. Proud of myself for continuing to lift right through my pregnancy with evelynne and after. Instead of stopping just because people were like oh you can’t do that you shouldn’t lift heavy things like that while pregnant. It also makes me feel proud that I returned after my pregnancy to get right back into it to work to get where I was or maybe even better. 😊

Lifting to me has helped show me how strong I actually am. It’s show me that when I wanna quit I still have more left in the tank. It’s also so empowering when you hit a new one rep max. I can have had a horrible day and go to class and leave feeling a 100 times better.

Lifting for me means so much more then just being physically strong, which is an amazing bonus. It means being strong emotionally and mentally as well. When you start lifting things you never thought you’d be able to lift or doing more reps of exercises that you didn’t think you could it translates into all aspects of your life.

Liftings got me through some tough times and I always feel empowered after a workout. Even if it didn’t go as planned. It teaches you about yourself- when to push and when to take a step back.

I too love how powerful it makes me feel. I just feel way better about it compared to other workouts. And beating past bests and always trying to better yourself

How much better I feel after it. It could be the toughest workout and I was sweating and breathing so hard BUT afterwards no matter how your day is going… you feel better. It’s a stress reliever! Not only is it physically rewarding but mentally as well. Group class would also be socially

I love lifting because it feels empowering to be strong. Nothing feels better than lifting something really heavy off the ground or from the rack. And on a more selfish satisfaction side when ppl start talking about how they don’t lift bc they don’t want to get “bulky” I laugh and usually tell them what I can lift and they look awestruck bc I’m not muscular or bulky. And I’m proud of lifting!!

If you came to read this because you were hoping for some secret that I have that you don’t. I think I do. I know that finding lifting for most people is life changing. It can help you to take the power back in your life. You get to be proud of yourself every time you pick up a weight. You learn perseverance, patience, you get to be strong in every way.


One last quick note about lifting that I feel I should clear up real quick. The whole I don’t want to get “bulky” thing. In both of the photos above I weigh the exact same amount. I feel like this is important to know and why you should go throw out your scale immediately. My body composition is very different.

Bottom Emma is 6 months post partum and weighs 135lbs. Emma on top has a 300lb deadlift, 230lb back squat and got a personal best at the Toronto Scotiabank half marathon. She also weighs 135lbs.

Side note: I loved my body post-partum. I was so proud of it, I made a human being. How incredible is that?

What does this all mean?

All of this rambling leads to this. I just want you to love yourself enough to know when you deserve better. Find a way to love yourself as much as you can. It probably won’t be every day and that’s ok. Pick yourself up and keep going. You can make your life look anyway you want. It’s going to be scary as hell, but you will find your way. Find the things along the way that help you in your journey.

Now go lift some things.

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