2020 has been weird. Okay, that’s the understatement of the year, but I don’t know what I can say about it that hasn’t already been said about 4 billion times already so I’m going to leave it at that. Eight months into this year, and I’m thinking it’s time to get back into writing and bringing the one-on-one conversations about staying healthy, getting stronger, and gaining confidence that I have on a pretty much a daily basis with clients and friends back to a broader group of people.
At the start of quarantine I was furloughed from my job (go figure, gyms aren’t exactly the most sanitary place to be in a pandemic) and lost the busy, rigid routine that I had been used to. I am a creature of habit. I love routine and I love being tied to a busy schedule. It keeps me grounded and it forces me to prioritize what’s really important to me like exercise, cooking, and spending time with the real MVP on this planet, my husband Chris. When I was first furloughed, I tried to keep myself on a similar schedule for a while, but after a lot of beating myself up for not being productive enough, I realized that I needed a change of plans. It turns out, while I have really been incredibly lucky this year–Chris has a stable job so we haven’t had to worry about paying the bills and my family has stayed healthy and safe–the sense of impending doom really kicked my anxiety and depression into high gear.
Now, this isn’t something new for me. I have dealt with anxiety and depression–that obnoxious, dynamic duo–since I was a kid. But, something has been different about this year. I have felt like I don’t have a right to be struggling mentally when so many people I know have been hit so much harder than I have. That’s the worst thing about mental health issues though: they don’t care what’s going on in your life or who has it worse, they just want to beat you up. And I’m finding that it’s okay that I don’t have it that bad from an outside perspective. I can still have struggles. My panic attacks aren’t less valid because I can’t explain to someone else exactly why they happen. I have always been someone who needs to be able to prove I was productive each day or I would feel bad about myself. Like, really bad. Blame that good ole protestant work ethic and incredibly hard-working immigrant parents. But this year, with all it’s absolute garbage, has forced me to slow down. To take stock of what is still here when my job goes away and my productivity isn’t as high and my workouts aren’t as good and my nutrition isn’t what I want it to be.
Being a personal trainer is weird. I love my job with all my heart. There is nothing more exciting to me than to have a client tell me that they no longer have chronic hip/shoulder/back pain after months of hard work together or they are able to play with their grand-kids longer without getting tired, or they don’t pee their pants when they sneeze anymore because our pelvic floor work has helped the problems they’ve had since their first child was born.
And this is a big but.
Being a personal trainer means that people judge your knowledge and your ability to help them based on how you look. It comes with the job description, and I’ve always known that, but imagine for a moment if all your worth, knowledge, and years of experience and certifications stopped mattering based on the fact that you’re not a size 0. What if your coworkers or clients or boss decided that, since you don’t have abs, you can’t possibly know what you’re talking about?
Listen. Like I said, I absolutely love my job and can’t see myself doing anything else. But, when a global pandemic happens, and you go into “stock up on nonperishable foods, even though they aren’t even things you usually eat, and stress eat a week’s worth of food in two days” mode, and the gym is closed, and you are depressed and anxious and have a few autoimmune diseases, you are going to gain weight. It just happens. It’s not necessarily bad. It’s not necessarily good. It just is. It is a blessing to be able to buy enough food that you gain weight stress eating. It is. It’s also a nightmare to gain weight stress eating and to feel like everyone you know and love is judging you and no longer thinks you are competent because of it. From personal trainers to accountants, I know several friends who have felt this way since 2020 took a nosedive. Whether the people around you are actually judging you or not might determine whether you need new friends, but it doesn’t determine your intellect or ability.
I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I guess what I want to say is, if you have gained weight this year, that is normal and a blessing. If you have kicked up your workouts in quarantine and lost weight and feel great, that is also a blessing. The fact that you are here reading this and not in a hospital and haven’t had to choose between internet access and affording groceries is a blessing. I am more blessed that my anxiety and depression want me to think and you probably are too.
2020 has been a nightmare and I fully accept that. But I am also fully accepting that 2020 has shown me the people that love me no matter what and I’m grateful for that. Also, I probably love YOU no matter what and I’m proud of you for making it this far in a year that feels like the end of everything. You’re dope. You’re capable. You’re going to make it through this. And I am too.