This is part two of my interview with martial artist and personal trainer, Tracy Herold, on the Healthy at Every Size movement and TrailNet’s TrailNet on Tap: Active Transportation for Health at Every Size. Part one can be read here. Check out TrailNet on Tap: Active Transportation for Health at Every Size, Wednesday, August 28th at 7pm at Urban Eats Cafe & Bakery, 3301 Meramec, St. Louis, MO 63118.
SEX+STL: Tell us a bit about yourself as a trainer and mixed martial artist.
Tracy Herold: After my friend died, many in our circle made hard, solid life changes. One of mine was to get my certifications to do personal training with the ideal of working with people who are seeking a better quality of life and not a number on the scale. I don’t work with people who have the sole goal of “getting skinny”, I work with those who want to go hiking with their kids and not gas out at the quarter mile mark.
In personal training, I work with individuals and small groups, in homes and local parks. The perception of judgment can make a gym setting unworkable for some, so we don’t go there. I also teach kickboxing at Title Boxing Club at Rock Hill, which is just a hoot for everyone. Our classes are very inclusive, and always a riot. Also, you get to beat things up, it’s awesome therapy.
The other life change was although I began in Muay Thai, to begin training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That experience is humbling and intriguing. You learn really fast that you cannot judge anyone based on appearance, that you will be surprised by who can take you down.
I still have to get that first cage match lined up.
Any advice for our readers about dealing with body image issues?
Just go to the gym naked. It will change your life!
Get over it, we all have wobbly bits… but I know it is not that easy. Even for all of my bravado – 22% of my body mass is bravado – I still dissect my face and body in the mirror. It is what we are trained to do: see things as less than the sum of their parts, and make others a profit in fixing it.
I hear all of the time how someone is “too fat” to work out, too afraid that people will stare, that somehow they do not deserve to take the time to take better care of themselves by doing an activity they may love. It makes me want to cry to see how much self-worth is tied into size and perception.
Understand that when you are physically active, it is for you and you alone. You have your reasons, your speed, your own happiness in your activity. It is yours. Own it.
If you feel someone is looking your way negatively, understand that it is their issue, not yours. Toss it.
Understand that your body is yours to do with as you choose. Your body is a reflection of some of your decisions. Examine them. Own it.
Those decisions you made based on others? The unhealthy binge after a bad break up? Admit it, own it… then toss it.
Understand when something is yours to own and work with, and when something needs to be tossed aside. This is your body. Your responsibility to it is to move it, nourish it, and respect it.
I will tell you a few truths about body image: The first is that it is all about a made-up war of comparison. What you are sold on screens and magazines is not real. Even if the models are not Photoshopped, most are at a cut weight and size for the shoot, and will rehydrate and eat up within 24 hours. That size 4 fitness model walks around 20 pounds heavier than photographed because that size 4 is not healthy for her at a long term.
The second is the sad-but-true quip I heard from a friend, that even skinny chicks have body issues. We all need to be kinder to each other and ourselves. Sizeism in any direction is a waste of energy.
The last is simple: Selling you a fix is the American way. There is no money in self-acceptance.
Understand that life is not good and bad. It’s all on a scale. Good, better, best. And do the best you can. Be honest with your actions and your reasons, and a lot of the rest sorts itself out.