Lately I’ve been a big ole’ baby about my fitness level. I have been a long-distance runner for 10 years, and I mostly started at the ripe age of 11 because I wanted to be on a team and have an outlet to set goals and make friends, and because I was a sad sight to see in any sport that required coordination and an attention span. I just ended up not being terrible at it, so I continued to run cross country, which led to joining the track team and training in the Spring, too. We lifted weights for track team, and that was always my favorite part of practice. I joined the powerlifting team on a whim in 10th grade for something to do in the winter, and I had a ton of fun with it, placing 4th in the State of Ohio’s high school women’s powerlifting competition. I didn’t know how much I really loved weight lifting until college, though, when I wasn’t a competitive runner anymore my freshman year. I did lots of research and gradually tried more and more new exercises until I stored myself an arsenal of training splits, workouts and exercises, experimenting with different techniques of cardio as well. When I transferred to my current college, I met by chance the girls on the cross country team, which is pretty small here. They convinced me to join the team and I impulsively said, “Sure!” This decision meant a LOT less strength training and high intensity cardio, and cross-training, in lieu of long runs 6 times per week. It also meant less muscle mass and definition and deprivation of the addictive pump, adrenaline, and confidence I get from the weight room. Don’t get me wrong, running has been a ton of fun and I am truly blessed to be on the team, and I am decent enough at it, but I think when we as people are deprived of something we like for a while or “not supposed” to do something, we want it more than when we could. I also think that fitness enthusiasts place a LOT more pressure on themselves and have incredibly high standards of what it means to be fit (oftentimes, though, they only apply these incredible standards to themselves; everyone else looks great to them, even with half the fitness level they have, but it just isn’t okay for THEM to be less than they once were). So, lately I’ve been lightly putting myself down and yearning for my prime figure from my heavy weightlifting days and it seems that each day when Insee myself in the mirror I see “average” and not “fitness trainer.” Yet, those around me haven’t seemed to notice my decrease in muscles and still jokingly describe me as “cut and ripped.” This seems funny to me, but I’ve been thinking I should listen to that voice that is oftentimes drowned out by the one I use to put myself down. The voice that tells me I look healthy and fit regardless of whether I maintain a cover-worthy body at all times, that I don’t have that much longer in my life that I am able to be on an NCAA running team, and that I, as a personal trainer, am knowledgable and trained to help people get fit effectively and quickly. I need to listen to the voice that says to chill out and be nice to myself, and that less strength training, a few more margaritas, and a pair of jeans a size up for running season are good for the soul. My bottom line here is that even personal trainers go through times when they don’t feel like they look their best and have periods when they struggle with their fitness and body image, too. But, we’re all in this together, and that’s precisely the reason we have such a supportive fitness community. That’s my soap box! So, I know how many of you feel! Have a happy day, and if you have to drop down a size on the dumbbells or do one less set this month, just know that there is next month, and improvement is inevitable if you do your best!