“When I first met you, I hated you.”

I recorded this post in order to make it easier for you to receive the message. I hope it serves you.

Fit Shaming

I will never forget the day that one of our clients at the health studio told me she wanted to confess something to me. We had just finished her workout, a challenging one, and she had been noticing some real improvements in her strength and endurance.

Her clothes were fitting better and she was feeling great.

She said "Sarah, when I first met you, I hated you."

I raised my eyebrows and I said "Oh, wow."

She continued. "I hated you just by looking at you. I called you a 'skinny bitch'."

I wasn't offended by her admission. I really wasn't. We had become friendly over the past couple of months, and I told her how much I appreciated her honesty.

We talked for a while about how fit people are judged for their weight, just as fat people are judged for theirs.

It's got a name. It's called "fit shaming".

When she felt comfortable to tell me her secret, it was after months of her being a client and seeing my workouts, my snacks and lunches, my food journal and my meal planning.

I had enthusiastically shared many recipes with her and had written out several easy meal ideas she could prepare for her family. I had given her a Food-Mood Journal that she was using daily.

She realized that I worked hard to be healthy; it didn't just happen by accident.

What We Eat IS Our Diet

When a new client would arrive, we'd often get asked: "so, how long will I have to work out for?"

We would cringe at the question.

Although we did have clients who regarded physical fitness as a part of life, unfortunately, most of them were motivated to start with us because they had some kind of event they wanted to get ready for; a dress or an outfit they wanted to look good in; seeing someone they hadn't seen for a while, who they wanted to look good for.

We always gave them the same answer:

"That depends on you. If you want to be healthy, then you have to eat well and move your body every day for the rest of your life. But if you're asking how long before you'll notice results, you should start to see a difference in a week or so if you balance the exercise with a healthy diet."

Invariably, we'd see them busting their butts and starving themselves until the day of the event, and then we wouldn't see them again...until they had another event to get in shape for...

And they'd start the process all over again.

That's what we're missing when we exercise like crazy and go on a strict diet and then binge as soon as the event is over. We're missing the crucial piece that our bodies don't go on or off diets.

What we eat IS our diet.

And moving our bodies is intended to be part of our lifestyle.

I realize this can seem daunting, to eat well and exercise every single day for the rest of our lives, but we literally are the choices we make.

Our muscles respond to the exercise we do.

Our bodies become what we feed them.

This is not by accident. This is a product of our choices.

When We Hate Something In Others, We Hate Something In Us

The woman who shared her admission with me had started working out with us because she was going on a trip and would be wearing a bathing suit.

She had planned to cancel her membership after she returned, but she decided to keep coming to the studio after her trip because she was noticing some real changes and she really liked the way the workouts made her feel.

She was feeling stronger, and she would push herself further with every session. She was setting, and achieving, short-term goals, which were motivating for her.

She enjoyed the training and the sense of community with the other members, and she was enjoying the health advice and the recipes I was sharing with her.

She was moving towards a much healthier lifestyle, creating a system for herself made up of new behaviours, and it felt wonderful to know that we had helped to inspire her.

So, although I wasn't upset by her admission, it did make me think a lot about how we judge others. It made me realize that when we "hate" others, often what we are hating is something about ourselves.

Only when we are able to acknowledge where the hate is coming from, can we address it in ourselves and choose behaviours that help us move from hatred to empowerment.

In my new friend's case, she realized that she "hated" me because while she struggled with exercising and eating well, she believed I had won some kind of genetic lottery.

Once she realized how hard I worked at it, she could trade in her hatred for respect. She began to adopt some of my behaviours. She realized that we were no different, we were just making different choices.

As she began making new choices, she could see the physical changes in herself as a result.

In the process, she developed a mutual admiration with others who had made the decision to put their health first, as well as compassion for those who were still struggling with their weight.

Because she had been there, she could now become a source of inspiration to them.

And on it goes. One by one, we can lift each other up and raise the health of our families, our communities, our cities and our countries. One by one, we can change the world.

But it has to start with each of us.

All Addiction Is The Same

I am not a "skinny bitch", but someone who takes my health seriously and works my butt off to resist the temptation that is all around each and every one of us all the time.

I am certainly not immune to cravings, but success breeds success, and so making choices that support my lifestyle empower me and make me feel strong.

It was not always this way. When I drank, I was unable to control the amount I would drink and I looked for every opportunity to indulge.

After meeting James, I realized that although we went to "different parties" every night, they filled the same void. I used alcohol to fill mine. He used food.

All addiction is the same. We use our addiction to fill a hole in our soul. But instead of filling the hole, our addiction makes it bigger, broader, wider, deeper...until there is almost nothing left of us.


I still struggle with addiction. These days, while I don't crave alcohol very often, I still crave the sugar. Although I try to eat healthier versions of sweet treats, I struggle with "eating to avoid" rather than eating to nourish.

Perhaps you can relate.

The acknowledgement is how I keep myself accountable. It allows me to change my state. It reminds me to use the pleasure/pain principle with my eyes wide open.

My commitment to eating healthy food as much as possible and exercising daily helps keep me on track.

It helps me ward of depression, for which I am predisposed, and for which I can feel creep up when I am feeling anxious or frustrated or angry or out of control.

Grabbing on to health and fitness has been the lifeline I needed to help me recover from my addiction to alcohol and that continues to help me ward off the demons that want nothing more than to keep me down.

Doing Whatever It Takes

I have shared with you several of my strategies on how I stay sane and what I do to prepare for road trips or long days at work.

But what I have come to realize is that I can share all the strategies and plans and systems in the world, but they will not serve you unless you first get to a place where you know, way deep down, that you have to change.

I believe this is true of any addiction, whether it be to food, alcohol, shopping, drugs, sex, relationships...

We have to get to a place where we are so sick of it, the way James was with food, the way I was with alcohol, that there is a feeling of "if I don't change, I will die". This can mean literally dying, as in mine and James' cases or figuratively dying in the case of non-life threatening addictions, which give us the feeling that we can't live our lives fully while we are still stuck in the addiction.

But if we can get there, then we can acknowledge that hole. We can look at it, talk to it (and about it), and it can slowly begin to close. Inch by little inch, it closes, the more we acknowledge it and fill it with things that help it heal.

Healing things.

Healthy things.

Getting to this place is tough because we are comfortable with our habits. We like our behaviours and our rituals.  It often takes an accident, a shameful experience, family and friends abandoning us, losing everything, or having a health scare, just to name a few, to get us to change.

Then, once we get there, we have to make a decision that we are going to put ourselves first and then do whatever it takes to create the change we want.

And "whatever it takes" means making choices in every moment that support our new decision.


The Bottom Line

If we really need to make a change, then the truth is, we need to hit a rock bottom or draw a line in the sand or make that one big decision to create the change we want for ourselves. If we don't, we likely won't have enough emotion attached to propel us into action.

No one else can do this for us.

Creating change always starts with the decision to step out of our comfort zone (our habits), and step into new behaviours in order to build something better for ourselves.

If you are someone who needs to change, then I want to raise the bottom for you.

I don't want something bad to happen to you or for you to get a diagnosis or lose a friend or loved one before you decide you've had enough. I don't want to see you disconnected from friends and family because of your weight or your addiction or because of anything else that might be holding you back.

I don't want you to feel cast out and struggling to find meaning in your life.

I promise if you grab a hold of health and fitness, a whole new world will open up for you. You will be among a group of supportive and like-minded people who only want to see you win!

What I Want

I want to serve you in the best possible way I can. I believe the best way to do this is to share with you my experiences, my struggles, and what I know for sure.

Whenever I am challenged to stay on track with my sobriety and my health, I remind myself that I want to prevent illness and disease that will take me away from the people and things I love.

I want to be fully present in my relationships and in my life; not half-focused on food or alcohol or anything else that could distract me from being in the present moment.

I want to live without aches and pains and I want to be able to ride my bike and go for hikes and ski beautiful mountains and practice yoga.

I want to prepare and enjoy wonderful food that nourishes my body and heals me from the inside out.

I want to live the rest of my life without another hangover.

I want to enjoy clear skin, bright eyes and a body that fits comfortably into my clothes.

I want to be who I really am, free to discover new parts of myself as I continue to stretch and grow.

I want to live more freely, without the constant concern over what others think of me or how I look.

I want you to live your life one day at a time.

One moment at a time.

One goal at a time.

One decision at a time.

I want you to love your life one bite a time.


P.S. What do YOU want? I encourage you to write a list of your own with as many items on it, covering as many areas of your life, as possible. Even better, write yourself a letter 3 months into the future, as I did at the Just Say Yes event, and see how your life changes!

P.P.S. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with addiction or weight issues, please pass this along. You never know when someone will hear the words at the exact right time. Perhaps that time is now. 

P.P.S.S. If you haven't signed up to this blog, I think you should! That way, you won't miss a single post, and you also get a week of meal planning, recipes and a shopping list when you sign up! 

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