The Twenty Pound Wake Up Call

June 2, 2017

I didn’t imagine that I would do it. I joined a gym. A slightly fancy gym with a juice bar, Kiehl’s products and a cleaning crew working around the clock. It was the right choice but something that I did reluctantly like the purchase of my first iPhone because it required a new self-concept.

I like to think of myself as a yoga studio kind of person. As someone in resistance to forces that say look a certain way or workout for the sake of vanity. As someone self-sufficient and knowledgable about how to exercise at home or include movement as a way of life without making hefty investments in the (kettle) bells, whistles and gadgets (remember the thigh master – As Seen on TV?). It was not always this way.

Few people know that I started out in the gym as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. By age twenty, I was certified through several organizations and attended fitness conferences around the country.

I worked at elite gyms and trained Fortune 500 company managers whom I could tell to “drop and give me 20”. Actually, it was never my style to talk to people that way, though I may have joked with them.

Instead, I learned a lot about how to motivate different kinds of personalities and got a kick out being able to tell successful executives twice my age what to do. It was in the gym that I first discovered yoga when an optional training was offered for continuing education credits towards certification.

As my identity and interests shifted (and let’s face it, after my fitness level waned following the birth of my child), I shied away from sharing my background due to the embarrassment of not living up to it. Can you relate? 

In so many arenas, I see women selling themselves short because they don’t believe they have enough experience, knowledge or look the part. Or there is fear that sharing about themselves (especially regarding accomplishments) will open them up to judgment.


It doesn’t come naturally to write about this. However, after years of practice there is space for increased consciousness and tolerance for vulnerability. I recognize how I have let beliefs about what a personal trainer or yoga instructor should be like limit my expression.

A narrative about  what it means to be a gym vs. yoga person dominated my perspective and controlled my choices.

Self-judgments and high expectations about how I should be got in the way of accepting how really I am, revealing myself and finding what works for me now.

Like a rebellious teenager, the fear of being seen (by myself as well as others) as out of shape was exactly what prevented me from attending to it. The irony is not lost on me. It’s like being too tired to sleep.

The wake up call came when I weighed myself for the first time in six months and shockingly saw that I had gained almost twenty pounds. I have been spending an increased amount of time writing at a desk and in the car shuttling my child around. I also picked up some bad habits working from home, in addition to an almost nightly glass of wine before dinner and sometimes one with dinner.

I realized that I was replacing the stress relief that I got from yoga, hiking and dance with  what the Buddhist tradition calls False Refuges, thus trying to feed my soul with things that are temporarily satisfying but inferior and even harmful in the long run.

Sometimes, false refuges are the best that we can do in the moment and work as coping strategies. They may provide the short-term relief that we need to get something done or through an overwhelming experience.


Often, these strategies outlast their usefulness and can cause problems when they are used chronically. The obvious extremes are drug addiction and alcoholism but they show up in more subtle ways (such as numbing out with television, spending too much time on social media, obsessing over things…) that we can catch when we stay awake and pay attention. We might notice triggers or patterns that lead to these behaviors.

The narrative that I had around myself and fitness was created prior to having a child. In the last few years, I tried some studio classes but they were often difficult to match with my schedule and because of my background, I was picky about instructors. I tried to set aside time and space at home except it was easily interrupted by piles of laundry, the kid, the dog, the phone…

I saw that since I work a lot from home, I needed a space that I could go to, that is appealing enough that I would want to go there (sorry 24-hour Fitness) and that was conveniently located. I finally let my choice be defined by my current needs instead of the choice defining me.

My energy and how I feel in my body has already improved. I feel stronger and have broken through something mental as well as physical. There is a sense of greater freedom.

Previously, I might have waited to write about this until I lost that 20lbs. My idea of fitness is evolving and less about fitting an identity that has been constructed.

I am much more interested in brining forth aliveness (my brand of joy), vitality, self-love (metta), freedom and the rush I get from feeling strong in my body.

Instead of being guided by self-judgment, my core desired feelings lead me. If I start to compare myself to how used to be or someone else, I return to those desired feelings or the question: How can I be my best current self in this moment?

Where might you be limited by beliefs about yourself, shame or old modes of being? 

How do judgments and shoulds show up for you? 

Where are you locked into how you were in the past? 

Ever meet someone who stays focused on how strong (or successful or whatever) he or she was at 25 instead of working to be their best at 35, 45 or 65?

Few women in our culture are immune to body image issues but limiting self-concepts may can be about anything, such as how you are as a mom, employee or friend…

If you let go of how you should be, what else would be possible? 

What wakeup calls have you received? What are they telling you?

Even when you know exactly what to do, have experience doing it or believe you should be able to do it on your own, it does not mean that you always need to muscle through this alone.


Finding support and trying new ways, falling down or forgetting to get back up and needing help are part of the process. I do this for people. I’ve been doing it in different ways for two decades.

If you are ready to let go of beliefs that no longer serve you, find true refuge and rise to the best version of you, I am here to help. We can leave the shoulds, shame and judgments behind.

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