Based in Frome, somerset, #fitMess is a blog by Joanna Beale. Her posts draw on her work as a personal trainer, as well as her own personal past experience of significant obesity.  Her general focus is overall wellness and body positivity.

Dark dawns and facing storms

I couldn't decide whether to blog or vlog this post. I'm drawn to writing it because of the level of emotion involved; I'm worried I might cry if I say it all out loud, committing trails of smudged mascara and a lake of viscous snot to YouTube forever. Yet, I was so worried about committing this truth to the page, as I realised to say it out loud was to admit and acknowledge it is, and was, reality. We are all human.

This is what it boils down to:

I nearly gave up. Not like a little wibble, not like a moment of insecurity; I came as close as imaginably possible to utterly, completely, irreversibly, throwing in the towel.

Let me contextualise this: at this moment, I'm writing this in the gym from where I now run my business. My classes are, for the most part, sold out. I have a good client base for personal training, I love my clients, and the number of them continues to grow. Business is not just good, it's great, better than it's been in years. I'm thriving in my new home and I am unendingly grateful that my career is now flourishing here. It's the beginning of May, and I've been here two months.

At the beginning of the year, I knew I'd be leaving the studio I set up and ran alone. The crossroads was a painful place to be. I cried every day of December, and I spent every day in January uncertain of what the future would bring. I neglected every aspect of my life in order to reflect deeply on what might happen. I wasn't scared so much as breaking-my-heart terrified. Every day brought fewer answers and more confusion. I felt only feelings of failure, loss, grief and despondency. My heart was consumed by the sense of overwhelming wastage, of time, training, hardship, effort... ending the book as the chapter finished seemed not only fitting, but almost the inevitable choice. I hadn't realised, but over the preceding months, maybe even years, I'd kind of slowly drowned in a weird lonely negativity. I had tried so hard to perpetuate an ineffective and inappropriate situation that I lost sight of the fact that my working conditions simply weren't right for me.

Working in solitude is not a place I thrive. It's the reason I completed only the first year of my PhD; and it's the reason, to some extent, I lost my mojo over at Epicocity. Some people are more social than others. I like seeing people, working around people, talking to people; generally just being around others in my working day. When I'm isolated, I don't do well. What has struck me since my departure, though, is how little conception I had of how low my mood had become. Over a significant number of months, and some quite exceptional circumstances, I entirely lost track of myself along the way. I forgot about the things that have always made me happy, I lost sight of how to communicate my needs, and I abandoned goal-setting, future plans and, gradually, out seeped all of my forward momentum.

The Escape trilogy of posts in March were a watershed in this process. The days I spent away, although I didn't explicitly state it at the time, were taken to assess whether or not I could find the strength to continue. I knew there was a button that needed to be reset; I just didn't know what it was for, or what it looked like. All I knew was that every moment was a confusing blur of uncertainty. Even I didn't have a clue what to do. But the thing that little break did was afforded me the time to acknowledge the things of true importance in my life:

My own health. The wellbeing of my children. Maintaining a safe and happy home for them. Being emotionally present in my relationships. Communicating clearly and effectively. Being real. Having purpose. Becoming stronger. Empowering myself in all areas of my life.

I was so afraid to begin again when I left the studio, almost cripplingly so. At first, I just wanted a place to take my clients where we could carry on with our programmes while I worked out what my longer term strategy was going to be. I nearly didn't come here. I nearly closed the studio to leave my whole business behind. As my head cleared, and I settled in to my new surroundings, I could literally feel the support of the people around me. Between my clients, my friends, the gym staff, and all the new people I was encountering every day in this incredibly nurturing environment, I realised the only thing that had been missing was me. The real me. The one that got left behind in all the stresses of maintaining a premises alone, a divorce, being a single parent and a new mum, the stress of a critically ill parent and a serious injury. I hadn't stopped loving my life; I'd simply stopped being myself. The whole ethos of #fitmess, it is, and it always was, me, through and through. I just needed to find that place where I valued my own input again, where I was listening to what my body and my heart was telling me I needed to live my best life. Too many of these excuses and distractions sucked out my mojo; inertia disguised as complications, creating a static buzz that just became the norm for too long. Now, I've refocused and I feel myself truly moving forward again.

I fucking love this job and I love how I do it, my way. I love working on my fitness for fun, not for perfection. I love being busy, so it tunes out the crazy, but not so it gets crazy. I love goals and plans and excitement for the future. I also like burgers and naps, an awful lot. I love my children, but I seriously value my own time, too. And all of that's just fucking fine. 'Normal' service is resumed ;)

I think it's clear where the conclusion of this post is heading. Don't quit, right? Sure, don't quit... unless you know you're in the wrong place. Sometimes change is the best thing you can do for your own wellbeing. Moving away from an unproductive situation is not the same as giving up. You can take a sidestep and find yourself in an entirely different situation. But don't tear out the pages of your book because you're afraid of the next few pages. You will never find your true strength in an easy situation. Face that fucker down. You've got this.

Bottled up

Bottled up