There are moments in our lives when our multiple words collide. Where our past and present meet and just make you happy. Or at least, the moment where I met today’s guest post, Cristie Ritz King was one of those moments. I met Cristie last summer at the Women Create Media conference in San Diego right before BlogHer. I felt like I had always known her. She was warm and kind…and funny! It turns out that we had a mutual friend in common from our in real life worlds and from there, the chatting and friendship began. Cristie has taken a huge personal journey this year starting her own health and nutrition coach career at Real Life Wellness, where she helps regular people live their best lives. She also recounts her regular life foibles and tales on her personal blog The Right Hand Mom.
A few years ago when I set out to get accredited as a health and nutrition coach, I was right in the middle of a personal growth journey. I was finally losing the baby weight from a child who was under no circumstances a baby anymore. I was exercising regularly again and I was rediscovering my love of cooking. It seemed I had finally found my passion after a life of career-less jobs. My mission was clear: help regular people find wellness just like me. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but that was exactly why I wanted to do the job – to help people see that perfect isn’t the only alternative to sick.
Then, a not so surprising thing happened: the more I got into the learning the less I felt qualified to guide. I met amazing people. I discovered incredible things. I got motivated and then I got stuck. It seemed everyone else was better than I was so why would I even try to compete? Why wouldn’t someone go to that guy? He’s vegan. Why not learn from her? She’s got biceps to die for. What about that couple? They beat a chronic disease. I’ve never beaten anything, except for beating myself up.
I’ve never been the best when it comes to health and fitness. I am, as my mother once so lovingly pointed out, a “big girl.” No matter how many sports I played as a kid or how fit I was, petite has never been what comes to mind when describing me. I’m the one in group pictures who looks like I could practically eat most of my friends.
No matter how many miles I ran as a healthy young woman you could still rest drinks on my hips, and my double Ds stay stubbornly double, no matter how big or small my waist. I’m what many would call zaftig and even at my absolute lightest I might have worn a single-digit size for single-digit minutes. At my best I am big and strong. I can lift more than most men. At my worst, I am big and fat. I can drink more beer than most men.
I thought I had made peace with my figure. After all I was aiming my business at regular people for their Real Life. Alas, when I began to surround myself with others in my industry — women who are lean and lithe and men who are seemingly always carrying green juice around — all I could see was that I wasn’t enough.
So, after I boldly declared my new direction, I quietly curled back in my shell hoping no one would take me up on my offers to coach them toward better health.
This may have been the end of the story had it not been for a well-timed doctor’s visit. I went for results of blood work done after I complained of not feeling well despite all my efforts to eat and exercise. I actually almost cancelled the follow-up because I was feeling better than when I initially visited the doctor some months earlier.
My first complaint to the doctor was about my weight because the scale had barely moved. He quickly shushed me, because it had actually moved 12 pounds in six months and 30 in a year – just not enough for me, apparently. More importantly, the rest of my health profile was so good he actually said, “I wish I could teach all my patients how to do what you are doing.”
Well, what do you know? I wish I could say the doctor’s words helped me turn myself around that day, but as you may have guessed I’m not convinced of my own worth that easily.
What actually did it was that four-mile run. It came the morning after a night of grief-induced book club gluttony. We had lost a member of our tribe to breast cancer and we were drowning our sorrows in cupcakes, bean dip and wine.
I was doing everything wrong and I didn’t care because I knew I’d get up the next day and drink a green smoothie and run four miles. I had no guilt because I had divorced good and bad feelings about myself from the food I was eating. I enjoyed the company and the cupcakes but not equally.
The next day, instead of spiraling totally out of control because of my gluttonous night (as I’d been apt to do in the past) I decided to get back on the horse, sugar-hangover and all. I ran four miles and I felt horrible the entire time. I wondered if my girlfriends were exercising that same morning or if they were still punishing themselves for the food.
That’s when it hit me. It is my “regularness” that makes me good at what I do. Yes, those people in my industry who are perfect (or at least look that way) are incredibly motivating and impressive. They make outstanding coaches. But so do I. Not because my arms are jacked or my kitchen contains only chia seeds and quinoa. No, I make a great coach because I’ve walked in my clients’ shoes. I know how to overcome grief eating and an absolute hatred of most exercise. I recognize that health isn’t tied directly to pants size but that your waist does need attention. I know how to get where we all need to go without torturing myself or punishing or depriving myself of food or good times.
I am a big girl. I am a healthy girl. I am a regular girl. And that is exactly enough.
Regular IS perfect.
Many of you know that Just.Be.Enough. does not believe in using this Guest Post Friday space to promote anything other than the story. However….in this particular case, because it is something very close to my heart, I wanted to share that Cristie will be offering a one day Women In Transition Retreat! in Bethesda Maryland on June 30th. If you are local to the DC area, and around that day…give yourself this gift of time, massage, coaching, and reflection with Cristie.